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I volunteered to work for a political campaign. We want to make a unified number (with multiple lines) to put as contact us number.

We want it to work like customer support numbers, you call a fixed number (most probably short number) receive a prerecorded message, and this call is routed to one of many other phones.

We asked about this solution from the telecom company. They provide it with sky-rocketing prices.

I think about something simple. I think about getting multi-line number, and connect it directly to a computer which forward the call to any free online chatting service (skype, msn, gtalk, ...)

Is there any computer software (open source/cheap) which do this? or do something similar? Even if it do this for a single phone line.

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3 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Yes, there is a software/hardware that can achieve this, and relatively cheaply. Asterisk is an open-source (free) PBX software, that can do what you need, and more. Asterisk is usually used on linux, although there are pre-packaged virtual machine appliances available. There are also lots of Asterisk-derivatives, like PbxInAFlash, TrixBox, and others, that are packaged with various add-ons.

In addition, you need a hardware to connect your phones to a computer. Like LinkSys PAP2 (really old, but can be bought second-hand cheaply), which can connect two phones. There are bigger devices that can connect more phones, or you can buy a dozen PAP2s (they are network-connected, and scale ok).

However, judging your expertise from your question, putting everything together does require a certain level of technical expertise that you probably don't have. So getting outside help is probably a good idea. But you certainly don't need to pay your telco's prices.

What you will pay for

  1. Cost of the hardware: Computer + VoIP adapters to connect phones to the PBX. Depends on the number of phones, but generally $20 per phone is a fair price if you need 2-10. Any generic computer made in the last 5 years will handle the 5-10 simultaneous calls ok.

  2. Cost of network traffic. Depends of number of simultaneous calls and call quality. Your basic home-level broadband internet connection can probably handle 5 simultaneous calls ok.

  3. Cost of DID (incoming phone number). Generally very cheap ($5/mo), but if you need vanity number (1-800-CALL-ME), then the sky is the limit.

  4. Cost of incoming calls (per minute, depends on country, generally way cheaper than what your telco quotes).

  5. Cost of the technician setting things up.

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that is a great answer! thanks a million! +1 for "what you will pay for" part –  Yousf Nov 10 '11 at 19:39
    
Don't forget freeswitch. apparently also rather easy to set up. –  Matt H Nov 10 '11 at 19:49
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The previous answer is just wrong or useless or disorientation.

  1. You don't have to buy any VOIP-adapters and connect analog telephone to Net, you can (at least at start) use any computer with Internet and softphone on it
  2. You can also don't run own VoIP-server, there are a lot of SIP-operators, which allow both personal and business usage of service
  3. You have to find hosted PBX, which better fits your needs and other conditions (you don't name origin countries for operation and customers, it can make difference in some situations, you tell nothing about budget...).

pbxes accounts (starting from Soho) or any OnSip plans may be enough for your needs (first names, which I recall)

  • You have to buy only one DID-number from selected SIP-operator for needed country, it's cost is heavy depends from a different factors, can't predict at all
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Yea umm, lets try to be constructive. This would be a great answer if you didn't troll the other one in both comments and answer –  TheLQ Nov 15 '11 at 17:25
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just log on therealpbx.com and they will provide you a tollfree number and sip extention which you can configure any open source softphone and its cost u around 9.99 $ per month . There is no need of sip server or any other software.

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