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Asterisk advice and costs

 
 
Les Desser
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      07-17-2006
We are a volunteer emergency first responder group and currently share a
Siemens switchboard with a company, that provides us with the features
below (except recording)

We need to set up our own independent switchboard. To replicate the
existing one, even with a reduced configuration is likely to be very
expensive and so we are looking for alternatives.

Our needs are:-

4 incoming lines from the public.
8 outgoing lines to the operators

Calls are received on a central number and forwarded simultaneously to
*all* operators. The duty operator should answer but if that does not
happen (may already be on a call) then any one of the others will
answer.

So, any ringing incoming line must be forwarded to all available
outgoing lines which must all ring until the call is answered, at which
point the remaining lines must clear down, ready for a subsequent call.

We also need to record the 4 incoming lines as MP3 files.

Is all of the above possible with Asterisk and does anyone have any idea
of equipment costs?

Many thanks.
--
Les Desser
(The Reply-to address IS valid)
 
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alexd
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      07-17-2006
Les Desser wrote:

....

> Our needs are:-
>
> 4 incoming lines from the public.
> 8 outgoing lines to the operators


By 'outgoing lines to operators' do you mean lines used to place calls out
onto the phone network to e.g. a first responder's mobile? Or do you mean
eight extensions [handsets] in an office with one person manning each?

> Calls are received on a central number and forwarded simultaneously to
> *all* operators. The duty operator should answer but if that does not
> happen (may already be on a call) then any one of the others will
> answer.
>
> So, any ringing incoming line must be forwarded to all available
> outgoing lines which must all ring until the call is answered, at which
> point the remaining lines must clear down, ready for a subsequent call.
>
> We also need to record the 4 incoming lines as MP3 files.
>
> Is all of the above possible with Asterisk


Yes.

> and does anyone have any idea of equipment costs?


It depends on what type of PSTN connection you have. ISDN30 cards start at
around 250 quid. ISDN2 cards start at about 20 quid [of which you'd need
two if you have four channels of ISDN2]. If you have IP PSTN [from Sipgate
or Gradwell or whoever], then every PC comes with a network card.

Hardphones start at around 50 quid and go up to the sky. Softphones are
free.

A PC to put it all in starts at about 400 quid but it'll be worth spending a
little extra on RAM, and storage for call recordings. If said call
recordings are mission-critical, you could add a tape drive or DVD burner
for nightly backups.

If a disaster affects your office and you need to respond to it, add in the
cost of a UPS to power your server and a Power over Ethernet switch to keep
the phones alive.


Perhaps you'd be better off with a second hand PBX? Bear in mind that you
can prototype your asterisk system without any outlay, other than your
time.

--
<http://ale.cx/> (AIM:troffasky) ((E-Mail Removed))
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Brian A
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      07-17-2006
On Mon, 17 Jul 2006 17:02:56 GMT, alexd <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>Les Desser wrote:
>
>...
>
>> Our needs are:-
>>
>> 4 incoming lines from the public.
>> 8 outgoing lines to the operators

>
>By 'outgoing lines to operators' do you mean lines used to place calls out
>onto the phone network to e.g. a first responder's mobile? Or do you mean
>eight extensions [handsets] in an office with one person manning each?
>
>> Calls are received on a central number and forwarded simultaneously to
>> *all* operators. The duty operator should answer but if that does not
>> happen (may already be on a call) then any one of the others will
>> answer.
>>
>> So, any ringing incoming line must be forwarded to all available
>> outgoing lines which must all ring until the call is answered, at which
>> point the remaining lines must clear down, ready for a subsequent call.
>>
>> We also need to record the 4 incoming lines as MP3 files.
>>
>> Is all of the above possible with Asterisk

>
>Yes.
>
>> and does anyone have any idea of equipment costs?

>
>It depends on what type of PSTN connection you have. ISDN30 cards start at
>around 250 quid. ISDN2 cards start at about 20 quid [of which you'd need
>two if you have four channels of ISDN2]. If you have IP PSTN [from Sipgate
>or Gradwell or whoever], then every PC comes with a network card.
>
>Hardphones start at around 50 quid and go up to the sky. Softphones are
>free.
>
>A PC to put it all in starts at about 400 quid but it'll be worth spending a
>little extra on RAM, and storage for call recordings. If said call
>recordings are mission-critical, you could add a tape drive or DVD burner
>for nightly backups.
>
>If a disaster affects your office and you need to respond to it, add in the
>cost of a UPS to power your server and a Power over Ethernet switch to keep
>the phones alive.
>
>
>Perhaps you'd be better off with a second hand PBX? Bear in mind that you
>can prototype your asterisk system without any outlay, other than your
>time.

I'm NOT an expert in Asterisk etc. but could you not port the PSTN
numbers to a voip company such as voiptalk ( as they give you the
flexibility to point to any SIP of your choice) thus avoiding some
hardware costs???
I am assuming that, as the OP posted to a voip group, he may looking
for a voip centred solution.
Often, with voluntary groups, funds are short so,
if you wanted to avoid exchange hardware altogether, you could use
Easypabx. ( www.easypabx.com )
I don't know what reliabilty level you are looking for in the
exchange. Easypabx does go down occasionally so for an emergency group
it may NOT be regarded as suitable - but it is free and may be worth
a look to get you started , perhaps while you are developing/raising
funds a hardware solution. You can check views, via the forum, re the
reliability of the exchange.
In Easypabx you can set up a ring group so that all extension ring at
the same time, which, I gather, is what you want to do. The extensions
don't have to be in the same geographical place of course. You can set
up IVRs to give whatever announcements you want.
You can have all the incoming lines you are needing and up to 100
extensions. You would use these as your outgoing lines.
In this case each operator location would need broadband access for
their ATA or SIP phone.


Remove 'no_spam_' from email address.
 
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Les Desser
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-17-2006
Thank you alexd and Brian for your responses.

Rather than reply point by point to each of you I will try and clarify
our requirements, but with reference to the points raised.

Because of the reliability element - 24/7 - I do not think that a VOIP
solution is for us.

Even though we may have enough redundancy with the operators on ADSL, I
do not think we could trust the centre to be dependent on ADSL.

I posted here as it was the first group I found that had significant
Asterisk traffic. I hope I was right

The 8 outgoing lines are via PSTN. The actual switchboard location is
un-manned. The operators are housewives at home doing duty rota hours
but it is necessary for all phones to ring so that if the duty operator
cannot answer then someone else will pick up.

The ISDN card for 250 - how many channels per card?

We would only need one or two phones for occasional use. Presumably
need a card for that.

How many cards (of all sorts) would we need? Would they all fit in a
standard PC? If not how does one add extra cards?

The PC as such is not a problem. As a computer consultant I have
several spare Dell servers available. Ditto for UPS. My zero knowledge
of Linux is a problem.

Backups of the recording would be via ADSL to my own servers.

Thanks for the tip about PoE for the phones.

As to using a PBX we considered using a Panasonic KXTD30 with 8
extension ports forwarding to eight external numbers but it did not
work.

We have only been able to find a particular Siemens PBX that can treat
an external line as an extension but the costs are high.
---------

Someone raised a problem today were we to use a switchboard with an
external recorder.

If we have ISDN30 with 12 channels, we would have a problem if we used
an external recorder, as the 4 incoming lines would not be allocated to
specific channels. I presume with Asterisk this would not be a problem.
Only the incoming call need be record as both the incoming and outgoing
calls would carry the same traffic.

--
Les Desser
(The Reply-to address IS valid)
 
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Jono
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-17-2006
It happens that Les Desser formulated :
> Thank you alexd and Brian for your responses.
>
> Rather than reply point by point to each of you I will try and clarify our
> requirements, but with reference to the points raised.
>
> Because of the reliability element - 24/7 - I do not think that a VOIP
> solution is for us.
>
> Even though we may have enough redundancy with the operators on ADSL, I do
> not think we could trust the centre to be dependent on ADSL.
>
> I posted here as it was the first group I found that had significant Asterisk
> traffic. I hope I was right
>
> The 8 outgoing lines are via PSTN. The actual switchboard location is
> un-manned. The operators are housewives at home doing duty rota hours but it
> is necessary for all phones to ring so that if the duty operator cannot
> answer then someone else will pick up.


Are the phones remote phones?

> The ISDN card for 250 - how many channels per card?
>
> We would only need one or two phones for occasional use. Presumably need a
> card for that.


Thought you wanted 8 (?), or is that just lines? with 2 housewives??

> How many cards (of all sorts) would we need? Would they all fit in a
> standard PC? If not how does one add extra cards?


They're usually PCI

> The PC as such is not a problem. As a computer consultant I have several
> spare Dell servers available. Ditto for UPS. My zero knowledge of Linux is
> a problem.
>
> Backups of the recording would be via ADSL to my own servers.
>
> Thanks for the tip about PoE for the phones.
>
> As to using a PBX we considered using a Panasonic KXTD30 with 8 extension
> ports forwarding to eight external numbers but it did not work.
>
> We have only been able to find a particular Siemens PBX that can treat an
> external line as an extension but the costs are high.


The KXTDA30 you mention can, well for ISDN lines anyway.


If all your housewives are remote from the location of the switchboard,
you will need twice as many lines as you have housewives, surely? One
each for as many inbound calls you want to handle ( & one each for
the housewives to receive the calls as they are forwarded from your
switch.....or at least as many lines as housewives plus intended
simultaneous call volumes.

You will not get trunk-to-trunk call forwarding working sucessfully
with POTs lines. ISND2/30 would be a different matter. So would VoIP
trunks.


 
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Ivor Jones
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-17-2006
"Jono" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote
in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) yonder.com.co.uk

[snip]

> If all your housewives are remote from the location of
> the switchboard, you will need twice as many lines as you
> have housewives, surely? One each for as many inbound
> calls you want to handle ( & one each for the
> housewives to receive the calls as they are forwarded
> from your switch.....or at least as many lines as
> housewives plus intended simultaneous call volumes.
> You will not get trunk-to-trunk call forwarding working
> sucessfully with POTs lines. ISND2/30 would be a
> different matter. So would VoIP trunks.


It's just an idle thought, but isn't all this talk of Asterisk and PABX's
a bit overkill..? Call forking would enable 8 ATA's, all programmed with
the same account details, to all ring at the same time to an incoming
call. The first to answer would get the call.

You'd have to sort out the recording another way, but as long as everybody
involved had VoIP the call handling aspect would work.

Ivor


 
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Jono
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-17-2006
Ivor Jones submitted this idea :
> "Jono" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote
> in message
> news:(E-Mail Removed) yonder.com.co.uk
>
> [snip]
>
>> If all your housewives are remote from the location of
>> the switchboard, you will need twice as many lines as you
>> have housewives, surely? One each for as many inbound
>> calls you want to handle ( & one each for the
>> housewives to receive the calls as they are forwarded
>> from your switch.....or at least as many lines as
>> housewives plus intended simultaneous call volumes.
>> You will not get trunk-to-trunk call forwarding working
>> sucessfully with POTs lines. ISND2/30 would be a
>> different matter. So would VoIP trunks.

>
> It's just an idle thought, but isn't all this talk of Asterisk and PABX's a
> bit overkill..? Call forking would enable 8 ATA's, all programmed with the
> same account details, to all ring at the same time to an incoming call. The
> first to answer would get the call.
>
> You'd have to sort out the recording another way, but as long as everybody
> involved had VoIP the call handling aspect would work.
>
> Ivor


I agree, from a technical POV, however, the OP's calls are critical.


 
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hairydog@despammed.com
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-17-2006
On Mon, 17 Jul 2006 11:42:09 +0100, Les Desser
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>Our needs are:-
>
>4 incoming lines from the public.
>8 outgoing lines to the operators


Is there some other requirement for this? Your explanation doesn't
seem to need all these lines.
>
>Calls are received on a central number and forwarded simultaneously to
>*all* operators. The duty operator should answer but if that does not
>happen (may already be on a call) then any one of the others will
>answer.
>
>So, any ringing incoming line must be forwarded to all available
>outgoing lines which must all ring until the call is answered, at which
>point the remaining lines must clear down, ready for a subsequent call.


That's easy. You don't even asterisk to do that. Just set up the
requisite sip accounts on somewhere like voip.co.uk and it is all done
on their system. There is no need for the call to go in to your
switchboard and out again, eating your bandwidth and introducing
delays.

The only cost is an ATA for each user.

Except:

>We also need to record the 4 incoming lines as MP3 files.


That's a problem. If the calls are being answered remotely, to be able
to record them centrally, you'd need to pass the call to your system,
record it, and feed it out again. A horrible mess.

Couldn't you record it where it is answered?
 
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Les Desser
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      07-18-2006
In article
<(E-Mail Removed) er.com.co.uk>, Jono
<(E-Mail Removed)> Mon, 17 Jul 2006 23:04:05
writes

>It happens that Les Desser formulated :
>> Thank you alexd and Brian for your responses.
>>
>> Rather than reply point by point to each of you I will try and
>>clarify our requirements, but with reference to the points raised.
>>

[...]
>>
>> The 8 outgoing lines are via PSTN. The actual switchboard location
>>is un-manned. The operators are housewives at home doing duty rota
>>hours but it is necessary for all phones to ring so that if the duty
>>operator cannot answer then someone else will pick up.

>
>Are the phones remote phones?


Yes
>
>> The ISDN card for 250 - how many channels per card?
>>
>> We would only need one or two phones for occasional use. Presumably
>>need a card for that.

>
>Thought you wanted 8 (?), or is that just lines? with 2 housewives??


Clarification:

4 incoming lines from the public - all on the same number.

8 outgoing lines to PSTN - each programmed to call a specific
ex-directory number.

8 housewives at home each with an ex-directory line reserved just for
this purpose.

So on an incoming call, all eight phones at the eight homes will ring.
>
>> How many cards (of all sorts) would we need? Would they all fit in a
>>standard PC? If not how does one add extra cards?

>
>They're usually PCI


That does not leave a lot of room for cards, unless each card has many
ports. On my PE1600 Dell server there are 6 slots: 2 long white
connectors, two long green and two short white. (4 PCI and 2 ISA?)
>

[..]
>>
>> As to using a PBX we considered using a Panasonic KXTD30 with 8
>>extension ports forwarding to eight external numbers but it did not
>>work.
>>
>> We have only been able to find a particular Siemens PBX that can
>>treat an external line as an extension but the costs are high.

>
>The KXTDA30 you mention can, well for ISDN lines anyway.
>

If I can get a categorical assurance that it will do the job then it
would be my choice. I can get it trade (45% off) and am reasonably
familiar with it. Testing with analogue lines has not worked and the
latest I have been told is that it will only ring one of the outgoing
lines (as soon as it has forwarded one extension to an outside line the
others would fail to transfer as the original incoming call would be
considered as having bean dealt with)
>
>If all your housewives are remote from the location of the switchboard,
>you will need twice as many lines as you have housewives, surely? One
>each for as many inbound calls you want to handle ( & one each for
>the housewives to receive the calls as they are forwarded from your
>switch.....or at least as many lines as housewives plus intended
>simultaneous call volumes.


Agreed - that is what I meant by 4 incoming (max call volume) and 8
outgoing (max remote operators)
>
>You will not get trunk-to-trunk call forwarding working sucessfully
>with POTs lines.


I presume you are referring to the switchboard end. The remote
operators would have normal analogue lines.

> ISND2/30 would be a different matter.


As I said above, if we could get it to work on KXTDA30 with ISDN lines
then I would be more than happy (over the moon in fact) (except that
call recording would be an additional cost and complication.)

--
Les Desser
(The Reply-to address IS valid)
 
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Les Desser
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Posts: n/a
 
      07-18-2006
In article <(E-Mail Removed)>,
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) Tue, 18 Jul 2006 00:53:21 writes

>On Mon, 17 Jul 2006 11:42:09 +0100, Les Desser
><(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>>Our needs are:-
>>
>>4 incoming lines from the public.
>>8 outgoing lines to the operators

>
>Is there some other requirement for this? Your explanation doesn't
>seem to need all these lines.


I hope I have answered that in an earlier post
>>
>>Calls are received on a central number and forwarded simultaneously to
>>*all* operators. The duty operator should answer but if that does not
>>happen (may already be on a call) then any one of the others will
>>answer.
>>
>>So, any ringing incoming line must be forwarded to all available
>>outgoing lines which must all ring until the call is answered, at which
>>point the remaining lines must clear down, ready for a subsequent call.

>
>That's easy. You don't even asterisk to do that. Just set up the
>requisite sip accounts on somewhere like voip.co.uk and it is all done
>on their system. There is no need for the call to go in to your
>switchboard and out again, eating your bandwidth and introducing
>delays.
>

Unfortunately we cannot accept VoIP as a robust enough solution (sorry
for posting to a VoIP group)

[..]
>
>>We also need to record the 4 incoming lines as MP3 files.

>
>That's a problem. If the calls are being answered remotely, to be able
>to record them centrally, you'd need to pass the call to your system,
>record it, and feed it out again. A horrible mess.
>
>Couldn't you record it where it is answered?


For us that would be more of a mess. We need ready access to all
recordings and only a central solution is really practical.
--
Les Desser
(The Reply-to address IS valid)
 
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