Neutral comparisons of PCI vs. box?

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Asterisk Users 8 Comments


I need to find a recent and neutral comparison of the major products
available to connect an Asterisk server to the telephone network,
whether ISDN (BRI) or PSTN, and through a PCI card or some external
box. I’m told there are less issues (echo, stability) with external
boxes compared to PCI cards.

Apparently, the main brands are Digium, Sangoma, Rhino Equipment,
Patton, and Audiocodes.

Thank you.

8 thoughts on - Neutral comparisons of PCI vs. box?

  • I would disagree that there are fewer issues.

    I would phrase it as:

    * pay somebody else to do it in the form of appliance and lose most
    control versus do it yourself and have total control but also the
    chance to screw up.

    These are the choices you face in much of tech, such as develop
    software yourself that does exactly what you want versus buy somebody
    else’s software that does some of what you want.

    If you want to pay somebody else to do it, there’s also the middle
    road of pay somebody who knows how to do PCI cards to do it for you.
    We call those people consultants or vendors. You can try hiring the
    vendors directly or ask them for recommendations for vendors trusted
    to do a good job.

  • On Wed, 8 Dec 2010 09:33:22 -0500, David Backeberg

    Thanks for the input. Has someone in this ng tried a PCI card and then
    an appliance of the same grade, and could provide some feedback?

    Thank you.

  • Hi!

    Yes, and IMHO the external gateway/appliance is usually – but not always (see fax) – the
    better choice because you save yourself many headaches caused by all kinds of upgrades:
    kernel, OS/distribution, Asterisk version, card firmware, and then there’s also the mainboard
    compatibility issue). Search this list for “dahdi” and “zaptel” and you’ll see what I mean. In fact
    for Digium it wouldn’t be a dumb move to start offering gateways.

    PCI cards can keep you from doing an upgrade and might even cause you to create a
    separate Gateway Asterisk box that you won’t touch and an Application Asterisk box that only
    speaks SIP to the outside. Even though an external gateway is a single point of failure it can
    be much more easily be shared by more than one Asterisk (in the case of a PCI card you
    might even have to keep a spare one on the shelf).


  • I’ve done both. It’s hard to determine what ‘same grade’ means. I
    guess you could go by price?

    I’ve used Digium PCI cards. They worked well.

    I’ve used Cisco gear for terminating PRI lines. It also worked well.

    Both the cards and the appliances have had ‘issues’.

    The Digium PCI cards themselves were solid, but there are lots of ways
    to do the configuration wrong. You have to match the line settings to
    the line provided by the phone company, but sometimes you figure those
    out by trial and error. That’s essentially no different for the

    With asterisk there are certain bugs I’ve run into, but unlike with
    Cisco, I’ve been able to find the actual problem, change the code, and
    run the version I want, which also has the patch I want.

    I’ve gotten into an upgrade / downgrade trap with Cisco where I wanted
    to fix a PRI error so I upgraded. Then the upgrade generated broken
    callerID. I couldn’t downgrade if I wanted the PRI fix, and I wanted
    the PRI fix more than I wanted callerID. Alas, Cisco.

    All known, documented issues, escalated through Cisco paid support.

  • Please respect the *non-commercial* nature of this mailing list. The
    poster did not ask for voice quality management solutions, they asked
    for a comparison of PCI interface cards and gateway boxes. Even if your
    response was relevant, it still doesn’t belong on this list as an

    If you want to offer your product to someone in response to a question
    they ask on this, list, please contact that person directly.