Uses and introduction to asterisk

Asterisk, (from the asterisk symbol “*”), is a convenient-to-use private branch exchange (PBX) implemented in a software that can be used by businesses and individuals alike. Similar to any PBX service, Asterisk sufficiently allows attached telephones to make calls easily. It also helps in connecting to other telephone services, together with the public switched telephone network – the PSTN – and also voip service.

It is compatible with different operating systems among which Linux, NetBSD, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, Windows (emulated)and Solaris and provides all of the features one could ask for in a PBX.

VoIP telephony offering companies, , also use Asterisk as a user agent or for the purpose of trunked connection with the IAX2 or SIP trunking protocols, apart from ATAs and other software user agents.

Asterisk, being an open source PBX software package, includes many features available in proprietary PBX systems including voicemail services with Directory, Call Conferencing, Interactive Voice Response, Call Queuing, three-way calling, caller ID services, ADSI, and IAX. Furthermore, Asterisk supports a variety of VOIP protocols, among which MGCP (call manager only), H.323 (for both client and gateway), MGCP and SCCP/Skinny and SIP. This enables IP phones to be connected with the traditional phone line easily.

Supporting both traditional and VoIP telephony services, Asterisk allows users to create new telephone systems, or progressively upgrade their existing systems to newer technologies. Some companies are using Asterisk servers to substitute proprietary PBXs, while there are others who are providing additional features which include voice mail or voice response menus, or virtual call shops, or otherwise, to cut down prices by routing long-distance calls over the Internet.

Quite interestingly, Asterisk requires no auxiliary hardware for Voice-over-IP, even though it does need a non-standard driver for implementing dummy hardware as a non-portable timing mechanism (for features such as conferencing). A single (or multiple) VOIP provider(s) can be employed for outgoing and/or incoming calls (outgoing and incoming calls can be handled through entirely different VOIP and/or telco providers).

Compared to other PBX options, Asterisk purges the tremendous cost of setting up a traditional PBX system, which otherwise eliminates the prospect of using PBX for small businesses. However, with Asterisk, even a small business voip solution can provide all the benefits of PBX without spending too much money.
Since Asterisk phone systems are VOIP PBX systems, they make use of broadband connections to connect the telephone network to the customary global telephony network. You can easily make and receive calls in the same manner as in a traditional PBX system. Also, since the connection is made via Internet and not the phone line, employees who work remotely can be connected directly to the office PBX through their Internet connections.

For large businesses spread across several geographical areas, asterisk allows the sub-offices to remain connected over the network, which saves the company much of the expense of long distance and conference calls otherwise. Moreover, employees who need to travel frequently can easily stay connected to the office PBX system providing they have a working Internet connection.

Asterisk phone systems allow every extension to have its personal voicemail box, which is further connected to the employee’s email account. Thus, this greatly avoids not a single message to be missed. It also holds features found in the most exclusive products available in the market, for instance on-hold music that supports both MP3 and streaming media. Customers will not have to wait longer as the call queues allow agents to monitor the queue at the same time as they take the incoming calls, so they the calls can be shortened, if necessary.

Asterisk phone systems have so much more to offer to their users. There are other VOIP PBX options out there, but Asterisk, being the oldest and most well-established, is the ideal choice among many business owners.

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