One of the other things I’ve done recently is install Asterisk on one of my many Linux machines. The main reason is to aggregate all of the SIP accounts I currently maintain and funnel them into one line on a phone. Asterisk provides a lot of different functionality: an interactive voice response system, inter-extension calling, dial plans for call routing, voicemail, and lots more. The primary reason I set up Asterisk was related to my work in the SPA-3000 beta forum — a number of the members were trying to get the SPA-3000 and Asterisk to interoperate. After a lot of debate, I decided I’d give it a shot.

It’s actually pretty damned cool to have my own phone system at home that I have complete control over. Since I have a number of SIP devices already, and the SPA-3000 can bridge PSTN and SIP, I have everything I currently need. I could use one or two more SPA-3000s to bridge all of my POTS lines as well as my SIP adapter from Broadvox Direct.

In addition to a number of extensions that ring handsets, I’ve also set up an “echo test” extension, a “time” extension (it replicates how “612″ used to work on Free World Dialup), a “music on hold” extension (I also set up Music on Hold), a voice menu, and more. It’s very powerful. In fact, VoicePulse utilizes a custom version of the Asterisk software in their commercial service offering. One of the ways they gave back to the Asterisk community was to pay for the time of Allison Smith to record voice prompts for the Asterisk IVR.

I expect I will discover many ways to make use of my Asterisk server in the coming weeks.