Asterisk Home Phone System

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I’m looking for ideas for building a innovative, powerful home phone system. Something that does asterisk voicemail well, integrates cell phones into the house system, etc.

I know there are a lot of details that need to be discussed, but lets leave it at that for now.

– What is everyone doing ?

– Has anyone figured out how to minimize cell charges when on the road via making calls via the home phone system ?

– Does anyone have their cell phone forwarded to their home phone system and have it do their messaging ?

– Is anyone using Google Phone capabilities in conjunction with Asterisk ?



25 thoughts on - Asterisk Home Phone System

  • Linuxguy123 wrote:
    So you really aren’t looking for a nice home phone system, as stated in your original post.

    If you want to learn and have a test bed and you live alone, then set yourself up with a system that is based on Asterisk, and have at it.
    Learn, play, fail then succeed, partially, then progress.
    Keep in mind that you will probably spend more in hardware, and if you have other household members they will not be happy with you messing around with their telephones.If you have little or no experience in telephony you will have a more difficult time, and may create a system that is more difficult for many users. Asterisk doesn’t yet do a really good job of recreating the user interface of many modern hybrid key/pbx systems

    You need to start by reading “asterisk, the future of telephony” A rather presumptuous title, but a good reference none the less.
    If you search the recent archives of this list, you will see the trials and failures of Asterisk and Google

    If this is to be used by you while you attempt to make a living on your own, I would say to you that is most unwise.
    Good luck and revisit when you have something up and working and have some serious questions

    John Novack

  • That sounds exactly like what I am looking for.

    So you have asterisk loaded on a wireless router ? Linksys 54G by
    chance ?

    Which VOIP phones are you using ?

    Which ATA are you using ?

    How big is the system ? (number of lines, users, etc.)

    How does a wireless router handle voicemail ? Ie no hard drive, so
    where does it store it ? NAS ?

    Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it.

  • Hi,

    Yes, Asterisk at the moment. Cisco E3000. 54G is too small for
    asterisk, not enough flash/cpu.

    I have Aastra 6731i, PAP2T, HT286 a Polycom and an Snom unit. Linphone,
    Bria, jitsi work as well for PC/Mac/iPhone. Any voip device/software
    would work.

    The wife uses call-through on her Blackberry with MY10, she adds
    contacts with a pause after her voxnumber; like
    1NPANXXXXXX,personsnumber so it dials in then dials out on the trunk. We
    have unlimited 60 countries so we can literally call anywhere, from
    anywhere and never have to think about it.

    Took me 6 months here-and-there to get it this far. Well worth it
    though as we save about $180/month in cell phone bills now between us.

    Just family and tinkering. I had load tested it with SIPp simulating 10
    concurrent calls, sat at a steady 93% cpu. I’d say the E3000 would
    suffice for home use, 2-3 concurrent users. We stream off the NAS
    through it also and don’t even notice during a call.

    It records to memory (flash) and sends a wav to email. Fax works the
    same way. Storage can be on a USB key, it works but I don’t use it that



  • Steve Totaro wrote:

    Assuming multiple mobiles (e.g. household or office), a typical setup
    around here (Switzerland) is that you can call freely within a group of
    numbers, often including one or two fixnet numbers.

    Where is “here”?

    Did you mean to say you don’t pay for roaming either?? Wow. I could do
    with a subscription like that. (here roaming means using your phone in
    another country).

    Using DISA also means getting a corp caller id, not a mobile.

    How is that done from a mobile? Sofar that has been my main reason for
    using DISA – cost is not a real issue.

    /Per Jessen, Zürich

  • Per Jessen wrote:

    I guess theoretically roaming is using a GSM network other than
    your “home” network, but in Europe that = roaming internationally,
    which is typically very pricey.

    /Per Jessen, Zürich

  • If this is what you need (fax/SIP/SIP Trunking/Vmail to email/Fax to email) and are willing to run on real hardware, or a virtual machine (not an embedded device), look in to PBX in a Flash along with IncrediblePBX/IncredibleFAX addon. This setup will do everything you want, and then some. It may take you a few weeks to setup and tweak to your liking, but once it’s up and running, you won’t look back.
    I cut my phone bill from $58/mnth for POTS with a few services to ~$4/mnth with everything under the sun. That savings has enabled me to buy SIP hardphones for around the house, and of course every laptop, netbook & smartphone has a client installed.
    We both have DISA enabled and our access line programmed as a “MY5” number, and we route all of our calls through the server at home. My cell bill went from ~$100/mnth to $48.50.

    Don’t skimp on the hardware, use a pc (any old P4 with 512-1G of RAM will do), embedded devices just don’t have the horsepower to make a featured Asterisk server shine.

    Sent: Wed 8/24/2011 10:49 AM

    OK. I’m a 54G guy. I just bought a E4200 the other day for our media


    Our plans have free local calling and 20 cents a minute for “long
    distance”. I spent $80 last week on “long distance” that would have
    been $12 on our home plan. To say nothing of all the other benefits.


    Are you using a POTS connection or SIP provider for your phone system ?

    Sounds perfect.

    :drool: So you can receive faxes that arrive at home on the road then,
    as an email attachment, right ? Without having to find a fax machine
    while traveling and coordinating with the sender ?

    If we wanted faxes received on the fax machine, can asterisk recognize a
    fax tone and route the call to the fax machine ?

    Will the fax machine send via an analog connection to the asterisk
    system ? Or does it need its own line directly out ?

    What information resources did you use when setting up your system ?

    Thanks again for the replies.


  • The original title and subsequent questions were a clear sign to stay away
    from a pointless thread.

    Going one direction and then completely changing deserves a new thread.

    I learned a long time ago not to answer questions from people that have put
    in zero effort but fell for it, and fell for a really bad set up of

    Thread subject, “Looking for ideas for nice **Asterisk** home phone system”

    Actual subject?!?!

    Not relevant but currently in the U.S. for now. Per minute plan was the
    relevant bit.

    Oh, yes, I meant roaming between carriers or off-net in the States. I have
    over a dozen or more SIMs from various countries/carriers, inbound is free
    in quite a few of the countries, or at least providers I have SIMs for.

    Just use a SIP client on your phone. Many providers have multiple failover
    paths for inbound calls.

    This thread morphed from a nice home phone system into something completely

    Probably should never have fallen for such wide open and sill question.

    Yes, spoofing provides that.

    SIP client. Spoof card, yes it is DISA, but you don’t have to do anything
    but use the card.

  • RGR that, but cells with SIP mitigate all of that. Also, multiple SIMs are
    another solution that I use. It is extremely rare, even in the worst
    countries that I cannot get WiFi. Actually the worst countries have the
    benefit of starting from scratch. I was the original guy to help assess how
    to rebuild the infrastructure in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea for the
    USAID WARP project in the Manu River area of Africa in 2004 for USAID.

    All the copper was gone to make pots and pans. Wifi, VSAT and if lucky, a
    some fiber to Senegal, although Sonatel had a monopoly on all of that in

    SIP GSM works great over VSAT with the proper tweaking. I had great calls
    from an FOB in a war zone using SIP and GSM over VSAT, G729 was the worst.
    VSAT is inherently lossy, jittery, and tons of dropped packets. Perfect
    clarity and security was achieved using Vyatta, OpenVPN and QoS and rate
    limiting. QoS is done by by the port, so OpenVPN turned SIP into what IAX
    was designed for, VoIP over one port. Once callers get used to the lag,
    they stop talking on top of each other. 700ms ping times are pretty high.

    There are plenty of GSM or SIM boards to accommodate physical lines. That
    is how most of the NGOs I worked with setup their phone systems with the
    lack of SIP. A 16 or less card to hold SIMs in place of E1s, VSAT, or any

    Check out chan_mobile too. One of the greatest Asterisk Apps. Besides
    allowing your bluetooth phone to become an extension as well as a the
    equivalent of an inbound and outbound trunk (depending on your needs), you
    can use it to send SMS and data if you have those features on your phone.
    The phone is seen as a GSM modem over the Bluetooth link. I don’t use
    Asterisk’s SMS apps, just like I don’t use Asterisk’s FAX app.

    For fax, I use Hylafax and for text, I use Kannel. These are WAY more
    powerful than Asterisk apps. With Kannel, I used the Bluetooth GSM modem to
    send SMS from my cell. Kannel is awesome as is HylaFAX

    I used the Asteirsk System() app to call lynx with a special URL. The URL
    contains all the authentication, recipient, and SMS body. Calling that URL
    via System(), as I said, I like lynx, causes an SMS to be sent. Kannel is
    extremely customizable. I once had ten cell phones for for SMS modems. My
    findings with t-mobile were that each phone could send an SMS once a
    second. With ten, using chan_bluetooth, I could send ten SMS per second
    using ten phones. Kannel is very well developed. Chan_mobile is

    The same is true with HylaFAX.

    Steve T

  • VoIP mostly aside, a couple more thoughts.

    I am not sure I understand your reasoning for DISA or how it is cheaper.
    You can buy a card that accepts SIMs as FXO and FXS.

    For your reasoning, a card of such nature is required. Populate it with
    different SIMs or whatever that are in calling groups or whatever you were
    trying to say.

    Just use callback back and some logic to reduce your costs.

    Call back will allow you to use the corp identity, and LCR will cut costs
    over DISA.

    The system calls you back after you make a call. Then the call is placed.
    There is a very brief outbound cell phone call, followed by a an inbound
    call from the server that you initiated with call back.

    Inbound to a cell is generally less expensive that oubound on a cell,
    sometimes completely free.

    Corp identity shows just fine.

    Steve Totaro

  • Steve Totaro wrote:

    I did – you didn’t understand my reasoning, I explained it. If you had
    nothing to contribute to this thread, perhaps you should have stayed
    away too.

    /Per Jessen, Zürich

  • Steve,

    I’m looking at using Kannel for a project here. Would you mind if I
    contacted you off list with some getting started questions?


  • Skyler,

    I would be glad to help within reason. Since it is not Asterisk and I use
    app System() and Lynx as the glue, it wouldn’t fit asterisk user’s list
    anyways. I use fast AGI for most of the SMS variables.

    Helping within reason is good for my karma, too much and I need to be
    compensated. At the very least, thanked publically ;

    Like the old Italian saying, “I give my friends just enough so that they
    need me, but not too much so that they dont”

    I have quite a bit of experience with Kannel and the code.

    Hit me up and let’s see what help I can provide.

    Steve T

  • Great discussion, all of it. Thanks, people.

    How much power does the home asterisk box need ?

    I’m using Asus Eee Box (1012Ps) as Myth front ends in another project.
    About $280 with 320 Gb hard drive and 2 GB RAM. Atom 510 processor. Built
    in Wifi. Nearly silent. Runs F15 nicely. Would one of them suffice ?

    FWIW, I’m typing this email on one now because my main system is down.

    It looks like I am going to need an ATA for the fax machines. Two. My wife
    informed me yesterday she wants her own in her office. VOIP handles fax
    machines, right ?

    I’m wondering what phones everyone is using. Should I stick with analog
    wireless handsets or are there some good SIP wireless phones out there that
    I don’t know about ???


  • Much less than you would think. Any modern processor is more than enough.

    More than enough unless your extended multi-generation family lives with
    you. And you multiply like rabbits. And you all want to talk at the same

    The LinuxMCE (http:// project may be of interest to
    you. They integrate Asterisk, Myth, home automation and the kitchen sink
    into a single distribution. They just announced their 8.10 release
    candidate a couple of days ago.

  • I’m running my small home Asterisk system on an Itox motherboard
    with an Atom N270, at 1.6 GHz. No CPU-related problems noted.
    In fact, I’d run it fairly successfully on a Pentium Pro 200,
    and it worked well enough for simple uses (e.g. no fancy
    codecs or transcoding).

    This could very well be the most problematic (heart-breaking, frustrating)
    part of your whole intended installation.

    Fax -> modem -> very sensitive to jitter and dropouts. Making fax
    work over VoIP (using A-law or u-law) is often feasible within a
    LAN environment, because the jitter and packet-loss rates are low.
    Making fax work decently on VoIP over the Internet is much harder…
    jitter and packet-loss rates which would be slightly annoying for
    a voice conversation can seriously disrupt or abort a fax call.

    Some (relatively few) VoIP providers support a specialized mode
    called T.38. in which their “far end” equipment intervenes in the
    fax protocol in order to “smooth out” the process of making fax
    work over a lossy/jittery/high-latency VoIP connection. This isn’t
    common and seems to be hard to count on.

    I suspect you’ll be better off either:

    (1) maintaining one analog land-line, and using it for fax
    (and perhaps backup for VoIP), and/or

    (2) subscribing to a commercial “fax to email” gateway service,
    in which people send their faxes to a number owned by the
    service provider, and the resulting fax is converted to a
    compressed PDF and then emailed to you. I imagine that
    some of these providers also have an “email to fax”
    service, operating in the reverse direction… you email
    a PDF or other file to an address alias they provide, and
    it’s faxed out for you.

    You *can* operate a sort of hybrid system in your house, if
    that’s convenient to you… e.g. a SIP ATA for your fax
    machine, to Asterisk, to an analog land-line (via either a
    dedicated PCI bus card, or an outbound port on a channel bank
    or certain ATA devices). The jitter and delay on the home
    LAN would be low enough that this should work reliably.
    You could also run a combination of hylafax, and iaxmodem
    on the Asterisk system, and thus use the Asterisk server as
    a fax-to-email / email-to-fax / document-to-fax gateway.

    Several companies make DECT SIP phones and systems… typically I
    think they’ll handle 4 to 6 DECT handsets, and a couple of independent
    SIP calls at any given moment. These may or may not be less expensive
    than buying some one- or two-analog-line SIP systems, and some
    ATAs; they’d definitely involve less equipment and wiring.

  • Do any of the DECT systems handle multiple incoming phone lines ?

    How do the DECT systems integrate with the voice mail services on an
    Asterisk system ?

  • At 04:28 AM 8/26/2011, you wrote:

    I have a dual core Atom I use for my home office Asterisk/Samba box.
    Never seen TOP show over 5% unless I was doing a build or something.
    I have a Digium Analog card for my POTS lines so I needed a bigger
    case. I use which costs $12/year for a fax number and
    essentially unlimited email delivered faxes. Makes my wife happy and
    I don’t have to figure out how to get faxes to work.


  • They don’t. However, that’s not an issue because Asterisk does.
    Incoming, I have two PSTN lines, three SIP providers, and used to have
    an IAX2 provider also. Asterisk integrates them all and uses
    least-cost routing to place outgoing calls through the various trunks.

    Exactly the same as all other handsets and softphones. Voicemail comes
    into my email as well as being available by dialling the appropriate
    voicemail number from any handset.

    In another message you mentioned using a PAP2 with a Panasonic phone
    on each line. This is similar to what I have and it works well for me.


  • I use a small box (like those hp thin clients)
    But these are a bit stronger aluminium housing, instead of plastic,
    and better foor cooling.

    Power consumption: 8 Watt under full load
    CPU: Model: 6.28.2 “Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU Z530 @ 1.60GHz”
    Memory Size: 1 GB
    Disk /dev/sda: 64.0 GB, 64023257088 bytes
    This model has just one ethernet port, others have two
    Size: 10×10 cm


  • Is this a custom build box or does a company sell them preassembled? We are always on the lookout for potential boxes we can use for small installations.

  • Not much 🙂

    I’ve been running our phone system and home media/storage network on a
    VIA C7 cpu based home build that I *downclocked* to 1Ghz from 1.2Ghz for
    about three years now.


  • I gu

    Because my first inplementation was before Curl() was part of Asterisk.

    I am very familiar with Lynx and it wjust works. Never an issue.

    Don’t enable or use apps on an Asterisk system if there is another, reliable
    app that can be used.

    I keep Asterisk’s role to a minimum. I only load the apps that are needed
    for the implementation. I usually build them all, but, either I do a noload
    or rename the .so.

    I also try to put other functions of different machines, to segregate the
    mission critical, or at least the as much Asterisk from other features.
    Databases, fast-agi, HylaFax, recording calls, and whatever else.

    It is just the way I do things, budget providing of course. I want the core
    being as stripped down OS, apps, and Asterisk as possible.

    Steve T