We return to the VoIP Wild West again today with another free calling discovery. As most of you know, these don’t last forever, but they sure are great while they exist. VoipDiscount.com is one of the better deals to come along in quite a while because of the scope of the countries to which you can place free calls. As you can see from their banner, the list includes not only the United States and Canada, but also
50 49 OTHER COUNTRIES including Mexico and most of Europe, South America and the Far East! And calls to formerly expensive places such as Costa Rica are about a penny a minute. Click on the banner for their complete price schedule. The only (published) catch is you have to open an account with at least $15 to cover the upfront costs of calls to these other places. Be sure to read the comments for some others!
Getting Started. To begin, you’ll need to download their softphone client from the VoipDiscount.com web site using a Windows PC. When you’ve installed the softphone, run the application and create a username and password for yourself. Once you’ve verified your email address, you can add 10 euros (about $15) to your account using a major credit card or PayPal, and you’re all set. Be sure you configure the client to NOT start up each time you start Windows since we’re going to be using the service with your Asterisk® server. And, when you shut down the client, be sure to look in the Windows Toolbar at the bottom of your display and REALLY exit from the softphone to shut it down. Otherwise, you won’t be able to connect to the service with Asterisk since you can’t have two clients logged in at the same time.
Creating a VoipDiscount Trunk. If you’re using Asterisk@Home or the Asterisk Management Portal (AMP), or FreePBX, then getting things set up for VoipDiscount is a breeze. Open the management portal with your web browser pointed to the IP address of your Asterisk system and choose Setup->Trunks. Now create a SIP trunk for the service with a Trunk Name of voipdiscount and with Outgoing Dialing Rules in the U.S. that look like this:
Add the following PEER Details in Outgoing Settings using your own username (in three places!) and password. Leave the Incoming Settings blank.
For the Registration String, enter the following using your own username and password:
Click the Submit Changes button and click the Red Bar to update Asterisk.
Creating a VoipDiscount Outbound Route. Now choose the Outbound Routes option and click Add New Route. Fill in the blanks with something like the following:
Now click the Add button and then the Submit Changes button. Then move the Dialing Route for OutVoipDisc to the top of your list of dialing priorities, and click the Red Bar to reload your new Asterisk settings.
Making a Test Call. Once you complete the above steps, you should be able to make a test call to anywhere in the U.S. by dialing 88-678-1234567 where 88 is the dialing prefix you set up in the Outbound Route (make it anything you like!), 678 is the area code for the call, and 1234567 is the local phone number. For those in other countries or, if those in the U.S. wish to call outside the U.S., add the appropriate dial patterns for each country to both the Trunk Dialing Rules and the Outbound Route Dial Patterns. For example, for U.K. calls, the trunk rule would be 0044. and the outbound dial pattern would be 88|0044.! Dont’ forget the trailing period at the end of both of these entries. Enjoy!
The Bait and Switch Begins. Well, it didn’t take long. It’s been a day, and Mexico already has disappeared from the free list. It’s now 6¢ a minute. That’s 40%-500% more than Voxee.com depending upon the city you call in Mexico. We’ll keep you posted with new "developments" each week. In the meantime, talk fast and check for current rates before you dial. This is going to be fun!
Adding Automatic Callbacks to Your Asterisk Voice Mail System. Don’t you just love those Baby Bell phone messages that say "Press 1 and, for a charge of 75¢, we will place this call for you"? Well, now you can add similar functionality to your Asterisk Voicemail System minus the 75¢ charge. Sometimes it’s a lot more convenient to have the computer do the dialing after you’ve listened to a voicemail message particularly when you’re zipping down the highway at warp speed. To add the functionality to Asterisk using the Asterisk Management Panel (AMP) or freePBX, here’s how. Open the settings for the voicemail extension you wish to configure with this option: Settings->Extensions->ext#. Now scroll down to the vm options field and add the following: callback=from-internal. Save your changes and click the big Red Bar to update Asterisk. In the future, when you listen to a voicemail message on this extension and want to automatically return the call, choose 3 for Advanced Options and then 2 to Return the Call. Just be sure your Default Asterisk Outbound Route is configured to dial using the same number format as your received CallerID numbers, and you’re all set. And, by the way, this works with Asterisk@Home versions at least as far back as 1.5. Too bad no one ever bothered to document it. Very slick!
Nerd Vittles User Map. Thanks for visiting! We hope you’ll take a second and add yourself to our Frappr World Map compliments of Google. In making your entry, you can choose an icon: guy, gal, nerd, or geek. For those that don’t know the difference in the last two, here’s the best definition we’ve found: "a nerd is very similar to a geek, but with more RAM and a faster modem." The map still isn’t quite representative of where all of our visitors are coming from, but we’re getting there. Give it another week or two. Finally, we’re always looking for the best BBQ joints on the planet. So, if you know of one, add it to the map while you’re visiting as well. We’ll check it out one of these days.
Coming Attractions. By the end of this summer, we’ll be ready to begin tackling some of the Asterisk hardware cards including the new Sangoma cards and the soon-to-be-released Digium cards. All of these new cards now support hardware echo cancellation. There’s just one catch: we don’t have any. If you’d like to make a small contribution to assist with the project, just click on the donate button in the top right corner of the main page. When the kitty grows sufficiently to fund the cards, we’ll begin our in-depth tutorials to assist everyone in making the right hardware choices. And, by the way, we’re not talking about huge individual donations. We’d much prefer 200 people donating $5 each rather than Bill Gates coughing up $1,000. But, heck, whatever works to get the hardware funded.
Got a PDA or Web-Enabled Smartphone? Check out our new PDAweather.org site and get the latest weather updates and forecasts from the National Weather Service perfectly formatted for quick download and display on your favorite web-enabled PDA, cellphone, or Internet Tablet. And, of course, it’s all FREE!
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