Asterisk is an IP PBX (private branch exchange), operating as a central point of communication in a company. It operates using a business’s internet connection, removing the need for traditional landlines to provide a greater level of flexibility and an increased number of features.
Founded by Auburn University student Mark Spencer, Asterisk is a free, open-source platform that allows phone systems to be customized to a business’s unique needs. Using Asterisk, an ordinary computer can be used as a communications server, allowing businesses to easily manage a PBX, IVR system, conference bridge, and much more.
|Reviewed by Expert Market:||06/08/2016|
With Asterisk PBX, businesses have access to unified communications, allowing one-on-one phone calls, text messaging, videoconferencing, integrated email, fax, chat, and instant messaging.
All of this is funneled through one scalable system, making changes and updates easy. IP PBX has a variety of benefits to businesses of all sizes, making them a popular choice as organizations choose new systems or update existing telephony.
Asterisk PBX brings a variety of features to businesses, including:
- Customized pricing options - Features can be customized to meet a business’s budget. Instead of paying for features or minutes that it will never use, a business pays only for the features it uses each month.
- Toll-free service and DIDs - Toll-free lines are available for businesses that need to offer customers the ability to call in for free. With Direct Inward Dialing, lines can be grouped to let calls be more easily managed.
- Fully-controlled phone systems - Businesses hire teams of developers to develop and maintain customized applications. With the Asterisk framework, developers can develop and maintain customized phone functionality, adding and removing features as necessary.
- Pre-packaged solutions - Even businesses without access to developers can utilize Asterisk. The Asterisk Exchange Marketplace features a list of packaged solutions available to businesses of all sizes.
Benefits of Using Asterisk
Open-source solutions are popular with developers because they allow full customizability without the price.
Whether a business chooses a packaged solution or to take advantage of the Asterisk open-source framework, there are several major benefits of the solution.
- Flexibility - Open-source software gives developers the ability to explore the programming in depth and make any changes necessary to achieve the desired end result.
- Simplicity - Asterisk removes the complexities associated with telephony to create a simple, completely customizable interface that provides the communications options necessary.
- Scalability - Because Asterisk is fully customizable, the system grows with an organization. When a new employee joins the staff, a new phone number can be assigned immediately and menu options on phone directories can also be updated. All of this is done in-house, leaving the business in control of its own system.
- Stability - Asterisk’s interface delivers the stability and reliability a business needs, with security and updates issued on a regular basis.
How Businesses Use Asterisk
Businesses of all sizes have successfully switched to Asterisk for their communications needs, including nonprofits. Chicago-based Ounce of Prevention used Asterisk’s Switchvox unified communications system to shave $10,000 off if its monthly telecommunications costs.
Large businesses and organisations have successfully deployed Asterisk, as well. In 2011, the Belgian province of Luxembourg migrated from Cisco to Asterisk due to its lower cost and ability to keep its existing infrastructure. The seamless migration allowed the province to save money and migrate toward Open Standards (SIP).
Asterisk offers two pricing plans. The first is a metered rate plan that charges companies based on a set rate per minute of usage. This option may be best for small businesses and companies with fluctuating usage from week to week.
A channelized rate plan provides a set, predictable monthly bill that allows unlimited inbound and outbound calls.
Asterisk is a flexible, reliable telecommunications solution for businesses of all sizes. The affordable cost and scalability makes it a popular choice in an era when technology needs are constantly evolving.