VoIP Galore!

After years of careful planning, it is finally done.  I managed to finally go all digital voice here at home.  Freeing myself from the “traditional” telephone providers, aka Bell, proved to be a most interesting and fun challenge.

The set up did not come super easy.  It required a lot of work and fiddling around with archance software.

First up, is the IP-PBX.  I went with Asterisk, as it is the best well known package to use.  Specifically, I went with Trixbox, since it comes as a distribution as is easy to install.  Within about 20 minutes the phone system itself is working. Next, I wanted to integrate true “unified communications”, so I set up Office Communications Server 2007 R2.  I can now make calls from the OCS client, and take them too, score!

For the phones in the house I went with the Cisco SPA3102.  It is finicky, and MANY people who claim to have set them up properly in Asterisk, have not.  Unless all 4 LED lights are on, it’s not set up.  After a couple days of playing, finally, all 4 lights work, and it is a proper extension in the house.  The SPA3102 features 911 and power-off pass-through, so, in emergencies, it will still work with Ma Bell.

Finally, I decided to use FlowRoute for my IP-Voice traffic.  There rates are cheap, and with the SPA3102 I can still keep my Bell line, but route local calls locally, and long distance out to FlowRoute.  All of my calls are digital, as even to go to local Bell calls, Asterisk digitizes them.

I’m quite pleased with the performance.  Even in a VM Asterisk runs ok.  In my next major hardware swap (later this year), I’ll move Asterisk to physical hardware to improve voicemail recording, but right now, it is not a issue.  Saving 50$ a month is quite impressive.  I may even offer the service to family and friends, who knows.

All I can say is once you go digital,  you never want to go back!