My VOIP experience so far

I have been “planning” to swap mine an my wife’s office over to VOIP for some time now. What has slowed me down is the complexity of getting the software setup.

The software most site use is Asterisk or Asterisk-based. Then there was getting a suitable GUI to set it up and get it working. That wasn’t fun either. There are two main ones. Asterisk-GUI and FreePBX neither of which I liked much. Asterisk-GUI comes from the same company that supplies Asterisk, but it hasn’t seen much development in months and FreePBX seems geared to call centres and the like as it wants mySQL installed on the server as well.

The “simplest” way to get Asterisk up and running is to install AsteriskNOW. AsteriskNOW is essentially Centos 5.1 and FreePBX install in a single step. I tried that and could not get my X-Lite softphone to connect to the PBX so I gave up.

So I went with Ubuntu 10.04 and installed Asterisk 1.6.x and then downloaded the Asterisk GUI from This version works brilliantly with Asterisk 1.4 but with 1.6 it can stall out on the login screen. There is patch to the javascript to hack around it.

I easily got my X-lite softphone to connect and also setup the other extensions. I quicky got it to setup voicemail boxes and e-mail sends of the messages. Getting a VOIP provider to work with me was another issue.

I first tried VOIPtalk which worked on incoming calls but I just could not figure out how to get outgoing calls to work. They use IAX to speak to Asterisk server. Though they supported SIP there was no documentation on their website as to how to get that working. I sent a note to their technical support but didn’t hear anything back.

I then tried sipgate. This time outgoing and incoming calls did work but without audio on the external phone. People could not hear me though I could hear them. A quick test by directly connecting softphone to their server showed that it was nothing to do with my Asterisk server.

I then tried voipfone. I got incoming and outgoing calls working with audio on both ends. I was soo happy!

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be hopefully porting our old landline numbers to VOIP and testing the switching. Essentially to ensure that my wife’s phones use her account and my phones use my acount when dialing in dialing out.

Next obstacle is to sort out my broadband. Which is fast enough for a couple of calls but my ISP has told me that my line is operating at 50% of its expected speed. sigh.

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