Asterisk - The Open Source PBXToday, I received an inquiry from Paul, asking:

I’m looking for a VOIP device that allows point-to-point communication on a LAN; no outside service provider wanted or required. It seems it would be a simple enough device to build, yet I don’t see any.

Any Ideas?

Well, the answer to your question in short is yes, but it is probably overkill for what you need. The basic reason for lack of turnkey “VOIP over LAN” devices that you just plug in and work is that you still, like the telephone company, need a ‘central office’ which knows what is where.

Assuming you have internet connectivity, utilizing AOL’s “VoiceTalk” on their IM client, or comparable services from Yahoo and others, allow you to do this, PC to PC while there are also USB telephones that are compatible with these services, allowing you to plug them into a PC and utilize them.

But, for what you really want – you can turn to the Open Source PBX called “Asterisk.” Asterisk is a great example of how powerful the open source software movement is. This program will allow you to run a complete telephone PBX like most major corporations purchase from Lucent and other companies, for free. Just define your stations, plug in any standard SIP phone, and you are ready to go!

if you decide at anytime to expand outside of your home and want to be able to connect to the ‘outside’ world as well, you can add standard POTS lines to specified interface cards, allowing you to have a very complex multi-line, multi-extension, world-wide-accessible, world-class system.

Bottom line is if you have an extra PC laying around the house, you probably will meet the requirements of the system. You may have to ask a geeky friend who is familiar with Linux to assist you, but it’s getting easier all the time thanks to the efforts of thousands of individual developers around the world collaborating on this great platform.

To learn more, visit http://www.asterisk.org.

If you know of any other ‘plug and play’ inter-home communication devices, let us know and leave your feedback below!