I'm trying to create a VOIP system that will allow me to run multiple conference calls at the one time.

For instance, A is talking to B and C And at the same time D is talking to E and F

So I'm guessing that would require to phone lines to accomplish?

I want to do this with no other hardware than a home computer and an internet connection. Which is why I mentioned SIP. From what I've gathered, I would simply install Asterisk and create a VOIP account with some provider then point Asterisk to that provider's SIP server?

All the forum posts I've read on this matter have people saying they've got that setup working perfectly. But I foresee a problem with multiple phone lines...

'Skype for SIP Beta' give you the ability to pay for multiple 'channels' allowing more than one phone conversation at the one time. Which is what I want. But lets say I want to use another VOIP provider. All the VOIP provider's signup pages I've looked at don't mention anything about multiple channels/lines. You simply sign up and that's you done.

Does this mean their one SIP account you sign up for will give you multiple lines? Does Asterisk handle all this routing? Do I need to signup for multiple SIP accounts and point Asterisk to each one to replicate the multiple lines?

To sumamrise what I need: A system that will let me make multiple concurrent VOIP conference calls

How can I get this working?

EDIT: I don't intend to have any 'internal clients'. All Asterisk will be doing is receiving two phone numbers (landlines) and then calling them both to create a three way conference call. The two landline numbers can be anywhere in the country. They won't be on any internal network.

To put it into ASCII

Landline1 ---- Landline2
         \    /

Hope that clears it up

  • Setting up an Asterisk box is not trivial. We had a seasoned Sysadmin guy and it took him weeks to get it right (ie acceptable to management who expect phones syetems to work very reliable and without problems). If you do this for a business I'd consider contracting this out. Still much cheaper than a conventional phone system. – user12889 Feb 8 '10 at 22:35

You're on the right track with Asterisk; you can set up what you're talking about that way.

I'm assuming that 'A' and 'D' are your external lines, and 'B', 'C', 'E' and 'F' are all internal.

The important thing to look for with a provider is that they support "Bring your own hardware". Many VoIP providers require you to use the hardware they provide; it's actually news to me that Skype is considering moving to an open format; I would personally recommend a different provider. Explore thoroughly, but make sure that they support "BYOH" and Asterisk specifically.

At any rate, it sounds like you don't want to have to invest in Dialogic cards for the Asterisk box, or IP phones for your clients, so ...

  • An Asterisk box.
  • Softphones for your internal clients.
  • An SIP provider that gives you two "lines".

The proper configuration.(!) The Asterisk docs are quite good, and you should be able to set this up just with reading the documentation. (An entire retelling is too much to post here).

Have fun and keep us posted on your progress!

Oh, add to the above list: enough bandwidth to support the number of simultaneous calls you intend to run.

  • Thanks for the quick reply :} Just a few more questions: I don't intend to have any internal clients. Is this a problem? All I want the Asterisk box to do is: Be given two phone numbers (landlines) to dial. They can be anywhere in the country. My Asterisk box will then call both those numbers and put them into a conversation together. It'll basically be a way to get two 3rd party landlines into a call. Question 2: The only SIP Provider experience I've had is what I was looking at yesterday. I'm not sure how common 'two lines providers' will be. Is this a rare occurrence to find in proivoders? – Logi Jan 5 '10 at 0:52
  • You probably won't get the cheapest deals, but, yes, it's possible to get "multiline" service with an SIP provider; again, look for that ByoH option, and Asterisk support (most that support Asterisk will proudly announce that fact). Once you have that, yes, tying the two calls together into a conference shouldn't cause any problem. There are a couple of different ways it could be set up, and I don't have the docs in front of me right now, but, again, the docs are high-quality, and definitely your friend. – Adrien Jan 5 '10 at 17:20

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