I remember in about 2008 when my business was first starting to grow. I had about 4 staff and I needed more. However my then single telephone line couldn’t handle it. I was either using long telephone cables or wireless phones but all connected to the same single line. It was a nightmare.

Getting more lines was easy. Getting a PBX installed was less easy. It was brutally expensive and didn’t really achieve much. Well in a sense, we could now make multiple calls and transfer calls to each other. It worked for about a year before I ran out of extensions.

It was time to play with some gadgets. VOIP – Voice over IP was starting to become a little more popular. I found a piece of software called Asterisk which is a telephony solution. I simply needed a telephone card which was easy to find.

I went from 7 extensions to several hundred almost overnight and best of all it was all under my own control.

Fast forward to 2019. If you need a PBX here’s what I learnt.

  • A voip solution from any service provider will give you a superior experience. Amongst others your telephone number will be assigned to you via a username and password which will allow you to move locations without needing to port your number. It will also connect you to the current telephony trends.
  • Asterisk’s installation is very easy – Search for a version that has FreePBX already installed. FreePBX is a control panel which allows you to manage every aspect of your installation.
  • Pick your hardware based on your requirements. The software is capable of supporting tens of thousands of extensions but those limits are based on the power/configuration of the hardware. The software is rather lightweight – a Raspberry PI costing just over R1k will support 16 to 32 extensions with limited services. If you require call recording then a standard desktop will suffice. Although I’d strongly suggest more critical usage to be built on server hardware because it is more reliable and will provide better support.
  • It is worth paying experts to help you configure your PBX.
  • The fact that Asterisk is free software shouldn’t put you off. It is extraordinarily well tested and rather robust. It, like many other free internet based applications make their money out of support. Notwithstanding the free nature of the software, Asterisk has been deployed into almost all major corporations as the primary telephony solution. It is also used as the backbone in the data centre to provide voip services.

I hope this brief overview helps you implement a great solution. Please comment below to give me your thoughts. Take care :).