I bought a new server at the end of December and installed Fedora Core 2 on it. At the same time, I started playing with Asterisk, an open-source PBX. Initially, I used it in conjunction with Firefly, a soft-phone, to chat across the Internet with Rob for free. That’s fairly cool, in and of itself. However, this wasn’t cool enough.
So, I soon signed up for a free phone number in the UK with voipuser, so I could receive inbound phone calls from a traditional phone line. Cooler, but not quite there, yet.
Off to eBay, where I found interface cards that would allow me to hook my phone line at home into my server and allow Asterisk to handle all my phone calls. $20 and a week later they arrive. Getting closer.
Of course, if Asterisk answers all my phone calls, then I really need a “hard” phone rather than a soft phone. So, off to The Clones Society to order a SIP phone. $150 and 3 days later, I’m the proud owner of a SIP phone. Neat.
So, now I have an Asterisk server answering my phone, a SIP phone and various inbound phone numbers in the UK. Still not enough, though.
Aha! A local Ottawa number from Unlimitel for $2.50/month and 1.1 ˘/minute. Now we’re talking. (Small pun intended.)
Added to that is a phone number in Columbus, OH so that I can virtually eliminate some of my long distance charges and at the same time have the ability to provide a cheap way for a friend in Columbus to call back to Ottawa. I think we’re there.
So, let’s recap things: a Linux-based PBX with connections to the PSTN, local and international inbound and outbound DIDs and terminations, voicemail, conference bridges, the ability to dial into my system from elsewhere and then dial out through the various connections. And there’s a calling card application for Asterisk that I’m going to play with.
Hang on, I think I’ve just become a phone company. Now, that’s cool.