Asterisk is a popular, open source telephony solution enabling switching and private branch exchange service. Working on Linux, it represents a completely free solution to implement a business PBX system, and is frequently referred to as the Asterisk PBX. Asterisk phone systems include most of the advanced features of modern PBX systems including automated attendant, conference bridging, call queueing, voicemail, paging, parking and of course private calls within the network and intercom calling.
As Asterisk phone systems are “protocol agnostic”, they can connect the private exchange to the outside world using both the traditional phone system and VOIP technologies, and they can support any IP phone. SIP and other protocols are also supported.
Just as with many open-source software products, Asterisk phone systems can be built either from scratch, starting with the raw engine, if users have sufficient knowledge about the Asterisk environment. This is useful for projects with very specific specifications, and in fact, this serves a whole community of developers who then distribute their own Asterisk-based specific software product.
But Asterisk phone systems can also be built starting from an Asterisk distribution package. A software appliance called AsteriskNOW needs to be used, which will install the operating system, drivers for specific telephony cards and phones, as well as a simple, basic administrative user interface. Using AsteriskNOW, it only takes about 20 minutes to turn a simple computer into a complete, fully working enterprise phone system!
An additional question: Respond to this Question
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