We’re kicking off a new series on VoIP trunks today. One of the main reasons is that Google has (again) warned that Google Talk (aka GChat), XMPP, and SMS messaging are going away on June 26. If true, that would mean that Google Voice (as we know it today) will no longer function on Asterisk®-based PBXs. If you’re smart and care about uninterrupted telephone and messaging services, you’ve got two months for contingency planning.

Today we’ll be taking a fresh look at the international calling marketplace. These calls never were free with Google Voice so we simply want to update you on the best VoIP deal available. FreeVoipDeal once again takes the prize for the best selection of free international calling destinations at the lowest prices. Today we’ll provide a quick tutorial on how to turn your Incredible PBX server or free 3CX platform into a terrific platform to make free international calls, lots of them.

Here’s How It Works. For every 10 euros ($10.72) you deposit into your account, you’ll get 300 minutes a week of free calls to a specific list of countries for 120 days. After you exhaust your free minutes, calls to the “free” countries revert to their standard VoIP rates. You can also call anywhere else in the world at very reasonable per minute rates that compare favorably with other SIP providers around the world. The beauty of a PBX and SIP trunks is you can mix and match as many providers as you like to take advantage of favorable calling rates to multiple countries. Currently 3CX’s free PBX limits you to one trunk although you’d be smart to try it and also sign up for an account on the PIAF Forum. Rumor has it that a free upgrade to the commercial platform may be just around the corner again. Even with one trunk, FreeVoipDeal is an excellent choice if many of your calls are to destinations outside the United States and Canada. So let’s start with the FreeVoipDeal trunk option today because it is one terrific deal.

Betamax 101. There are a few things you need to know about the so-called Betamax VoIP services up front. Most importantly, they change rates and free countries more frequently than college kids change partners. The calling rate to some country from some Betamax provider changes almost every day because Betamax has dozens of companies offering similar services with differing rates and freebies. You can keep track of the daily changes on this Facebook page. Here’s a 6-year old spreadsheet that will give you a good idea of what you’re up against. Don’t depend upon it for the current rates. You’ll need to visit the actual site(s) of your choice for their current rate tables or visit the site (not) maintained by Betamax for a country-by-country comparison by provider. That’s another way of saying DON’T BLAME US IF YOUR 3-HOUR CALL TO ANTARCTICA CHANGED FROM 20¢ PER MINUTE TO $1 PER MINUTE OVERNIGHT. IT PROBABLY WON’T, BUT THEN AGAIN IT MIGHT. One other word of warning. Some Betamax sites (marked with a red asterisk in the Betamax country table) such as powervoip.com have good calling rates, but they tack on a 3.9¢ connection fee to every call. If you make lengthy calls, it’s not a big deal. If you make numerous short calls, it drives your discount calling rates through the roof. Before making a lengthy call to a remote destination, spend the two minutes it takes to look up the current rate and take a snapshot of the web page for your records. Here’s another tip. If you make frequent calls to Antarctica, spend a little time doing your homework. Review the latest Betamax spreadsheet to track down the cheapest rates. Then double-check the actual sites for the current rates. There’s a $150 difference in the cost of a 3-hour call at €.20/minute from some Betamax sites versus the €.902/minute rate at some other Betamax sites. THIS CAN AND OFTEN DOES CHANGE! HINT: Don’t use FreeVoipDeal for Antarctica calls. 🙂

Today we’ll be focusing on the company we’ve tracked for many years, FreeVoipDeal.com. Except for the domain name, the setup with other Betamax providers is similar but not identical. And, of course, you’ll have to kick in another deposit to make free calls from each site. The length of the Freebie period also may vary so read the terms carefully. FreeVoipDeal actually hasn’t changed much since our first visit about three years ago. In fact, we still had most of our ten euro credit so we could play all we wanted even though the calls were no longer free since our four month window has long since expired.

Here’s the April 22, 2017 Freebie list by country. Don’t depend upon it! Check their actual web site or the Betamax country summary for current freebies and current rates. Here’s a clever trick to remember. When you visit the FreeVoipDeal Rate Table, click on the Out of Minutes tab for a quick listing of all the Free Calling Countries as well as the rates once you use up your four months or 300 weekly minutes of free calls. With few exceptions, most of the “free countries” still have a rate of 1.1¢ per minute even after you run out of minutes.

How Free International Calling Works

Placing international calls through FreeVoipDeal can be done in a number of ways. That’s the real beauty of a PBX. First, you can either load an app to make the calls if your smartphone or PC supports it. Or, in the case of 3CX, you can use a SIP phone or a 3CX client running on your smartphone to dial a number through your PBX using the registered FreeVoipDeal trunk. With Incredible PBX 13 or Incredible PBX for Wazo, you can use a SIP phone to dial a FreeVoipDeal number directly through your PBX, or you can dial a DISA access number to connect to your PBX and then enter your DISA password after which you will get a second dial tone to place an international call using your FreeVoipDeal trunk. The beauty of the DISA approach is you can call into your PBX from any telephone to place free or dirt cheap international calls. No SIP phone or SIP client is required.

Using Incredible PBX 13 and DISA for Calling

On the Incredible PBX platform, you can use the DISA application to provide secondary dialtone for processing international calls. A phone number and trunk will receive incoming calls bound for DISA from your cellphone. An inbound route will only forward incoming calls to DISA that match your cellphone number. A secondary trunk from FreeVoipDeal or other providers will be used to process outgoing international calls that are dialed using DISA. We’ll create an outbound route or rule for every country to which you want to authorize international calling. Each of these outbound routes will point to the least expensive (or free) trunk to complete the call. In the VoIP world, you actually could have dozens of outbound trunks that handle international calls based upon the country codes of each international call. This lets you take advantage of the best calling rates for each country. We will block international calls to country codes not specifically authorized.

Just to restate the obvious, a misconfigured DISA application that allows the world to make international calls on your nickel can get expensive quickly. We’ll protect today’s DISA setup for Incredible PBX with three layers of protection. First, we’ll require that the CallerID of the incoming call match your cellphone number. While this isn’t failsafe since CallerID numbers can be spoofed, it does reduce the risk considerably. Second, to make DISA calls, you’ll have to know the incoming phone number managing DISA on your PBX. And third, you’ll have to enter the correct DISA PIN before being prompted for an international number to dial. Without all three, nobody gets to make an international call. Just remember, compromising DISA on your PBX is just as risky as handing out your credit card to a stranger so follow the setup steps carefully. And then TEST, TEST, TEST to make sure strangers can’t access your DISA setup. We’ll show you how.

Here’s an overview of the DISA setup drill once you have Incredible PBX 13 running. We’ll walk through each of the six steps below. Don’t get frustrated. There are a number of steps, but none of them are difficult. Just pretend you’re baking cookies and don’t skip any steps.

  1. Set Up Your Trunk to Process Incoming DISA Calls
  2. Set Up Your Trunk(s) to Process Outgoing International Calls
  3. Configure DISA with a Very Secure Password
  4. Configure an Inbound Route to Limit Incoming DISA Calls to Your Cellphone #
  5. Configure an Outbound Route for Each International Country Code
  6. Test, Test, Test

1. Setting Up Incoming DISA Call Trunk

Before you can make calls to your PBX, it’ll need a phone number (known affectionately as a DID). As installed, Incredible PBX includes preconfigured SIP trunks from about a dozen SIP providers. All you’ll need is credentials from the company you wish to use. Most providers of DID trunks offer a monthly flat rate for unlimited incoming calls. There’s a great deal from our Platinum Sponsor, Vitelity, at the end of this article. And their international calling rates are extremely competitive as well.

In addition to SIP trunks, Incredible PBX is preconfigured to support Google Voice trunks for those living in the United States. While they last, these trunks are free and provide unlimited incoming and outgoing calls throughout the U.S. and Canada. Because this option is free, U.S. residents would be crazy not to use it for today’s application while it’s still available. The setup procedure is covered in detail in all of the Incredible PBX installation tutorials. So start there.

2. Trunk Setup for International Calling

We’re going to walk you through setting up a trunk with FreeVoipDeal to handle free international calls to certain countries documented above. This may not be the best fit for you depending upon the international destinations you wish to call. Figure that out first! Then adjust the trunk settings below to match each SIP provider trunk you wish to create. There’s no limit to the number you can have. And, with most of these providers, you pay by the minute for international calls anyway so there is no harm in configuring multiple trunks to take advantage of the best rates calling the countries of your choice. The same applies to all-you-can-eat and “free” trunks except there are varying fees for using the services so you’re probably not going to want a dozen of them even if some of the calls are free after making a periodic deposit. Start with the pink and green entries on the old spreadsheet we referenced for the cheapest historical rates and then visit the actual sites and read the fine print. One of our favorite Betamax sites for many tourist destinations is HotVoIP.com.



To add new trunks to Incredible PBX, use a browser to access the IP address of your server. Choose Incredible GUI Administration from the Admin menu of the Kennonsoft GUI (shown above) by clicking on User to switch. The default username is admin and the password is what you set when the install completed. Once the Incredible PBX GUI appears, click the Connectivity tab and choose Trunks -> Add SIP (chan_sip) Trunk.

For Trunk Name, enter FreeVoipDeal. In the Dialed Number Manipulation Rules section, add a rule for each country code you wish to activate. You can decipher the Country Code for any country at this link. For example, for the United Kingdom, you’d enter a rule like this where 44 is the Country Code and each X represents a required digit in the local area code and phone number. The trailing period means the number includes one or more additional digits. NOTE: DISA calls will not have to be prefixed with 011 to place international calls. Just enter the country code and number to be called. And, I am told that only 441, 442, and perhaps 443 calls to the U.K. are free since those are the designated landline prefixes.




If there are other countries, you wish to support with this trunk provider, you’d click Add More Dial Pattern Fields and insert an additional rule for each country following the example above. If you’ll be using this trunk to make calls in the U.S. and Canada as well, the correct Match Pattern is 1NXXNXXXXXX, and calls will need to be dialed with the 1 to avoid conflicts with international dialing. And, by the way, calls to Alaska and Hawaii are also free!

Next, we need to enter the Outgoing Settings. For the Trunk Name, enter freevoipdeal. Clear out the entries in Peer Details section and enter the following using your actual FreeVoipDeal credentials for yourusername and yourpassword:

authuser=yourusername
username=yourusername
secret=yourpassword
type=peer
qualify=yes
nat=yes
insecure=port,invite
host=sip.freevoipdeal.com
fromdomain=sip.freevoipdeal.com
dtmfmode=auto
disallow=all
canreinvite=no
allow=alaw&ulaw

Finally, clear out the default entries in User Details and click the Submit Changes button and then red Apply Config button to save your new trunk.

Spoofing Your CallerID. When setting up your FreeVoipDeal account, you can set up one or more numbers to use as your CallerID number on FreeVoipDeal calls. You simply verify the number with a code sent by SMS or phone call from their service. Once you’ve gone through the verification procedure, you can spoof the outbound CallerID on FreeVoipDeal calls using your actual cellphone number. Just add the following entries to your Trunk settings replacing 9991234567 with your cellphone number. Special thanks to @hillclimber on the PIAF Forum for the tip.

fromuser=0019991234567
sendrpid=yes

3. Configuring DISA for International Calling

In the Incredible PBX GUI, we’ll set up DISA by clicking the Applications tab and choosing DISA. Add your new DISA configuration by following this sample. Use a VERY secure password. It’s your phone bill. Once you’ve finished, click the Submit Changes button and then red Apply Config button to save your new DISA setup.



4. Inbound Routing of DISA Calls

Here’s where we lock down your setup so that Incredible PBX only accepts DISA calls from your cellphone number. If you want to allow additional people to use your DISA setup or if you have multiple cellphones, then simply create multiple inbound routes with the 10-digit numbers of each phone to be supported.

In the Incredible PBX GUI, we’ll set up a new Inbound Route by clicking the Connectivity tab and choosing Inbound Routes. If you plan to support multiple phones, then create multiple inbound routes and give each of them a unique Description and CallerID Number that matches the phone number of the cellphone to be supported. Be sure to check the CID Priority Route checkbox and set the correct Destination for your incoming calls. Just fill in the blanks appropriately using this template as a guide. Once you’ve finished, click the Submit button and then red Apply Config button to save your new Inbound Route.



5. Outbound Routing by Country Code

The DISA application is going to obtain the phone number to be dialed and will pass that to the Outbound Routes module. The job of the Outbound Routes module is to examine the phone number passed to it from DISA to figure out which trunk to use to make the outbound call. It then will pass the call to the appropriate trunk which sends the outgoing call on its way to the destination.

For each Dialed Number Manipulation Rule in every Trunk that you set up in Step #2 above, you’ll need a matching Outbound Route if your PBX is used to place calls using multiple trunks. If you’re only using one provider for all of your outbound calls, then we can use a more generic Outbound Route. It’s always a good idea to create the one-to-one match between Outbound Routes and Trunks to make certain that outbound calls are sent to the correct Trunk for processing. So let’s do that using the U.K. trunk we created above.

In the Incredible PBX GUI, we’ll set up a new Outbound Route by clicking the Connectivity tab and choosing Outbound Routes. When the template appears, notice in the far right column that there’s a listing of all your existing Outbound Routes. Calls are actually processed sequentially using the order that these Outbound Routes appear in the list. If there’s no number match in the top route or if the call via the top route fails, processing drops to the next route in the list until there is a match AND a successful connection. You can adjust the sequence by dragging the Outbound Routes to a different position in the priority list.

It’s important to use specificity in your Outbound Routes (especially with International calling) to make certain that a call isn’t inadvertently processed by a secondary trunk. For example, if you have a Google Voice trunk in addition to a FreeVoipDeal trunk, we want to make certain that calls to England are processed by the FreeVoipDeal trunk and that 10-digit numbers starting with area code 440 (Cleveland) are routed out through Google Voice. The easiest way to do this is to require the Outbound Route Match Pattern for U.K. calls to be at least 11 digits, e.g. 44XXXXXXXX. (the trailing period is important in that it requires at least one more digit for a match). And we can force a Hangup if the FreeVoipDeal trunk is not available for some reason by adjusting the Destination on Congestion setting. This keeps the call routing from dropping down to the next available Outbound Route in the list if FreeVoipDeal happens to be off-line at some point. So our Outbound Route for U.K. calls should look something like this:



The final step is to move the new Outbound Route for U.K. calls to the top of the Outbound Routes listing in the right column to assure that it is processed first. Once you’ve done that, click the Submit Changes button and then red Apply Config button to save your new Outbound Route AND the adjusted Outbound Route Priority List.

Another alternative in creating Outbound Routes is to use a Dial Prefix that never matches a real phone number to direct calls to a particular trunk. For example, you might use 08 as a dial prefix for FreeVoipDeal calls. By placing 08 in the Prefix column of the Dial Pattern, it will get stripped off before the number is actually passed to the FreeVoipDeal trunk for processing. We actually prefer this setup because it adds an additional layer of security for international calls. If someone were to break into your DISA application by knowing your cellphone number AND your DID AND your DISA password, it’s unlikely they’d also know to prefix outgoing international calls with some arbitrary dial prefix. Just don’t use 08 in case they’re a Nerd Vittles reader. 😉

6. Test, Test, Test!

The easiest way to test the new setup is to place a couple of calls and to watch the Asterisk CLI (asterisk -rvvvvvvvvvv) and see how the calls are processed and who answers at the other end. Then you can apologize for reaching the wrong number.

You can make up your own test methodology, but here’s one that works for us. There are several tests you need to make. First, call your Incredible PBX DID from your authorized cellphone and enter a correct DISA password to see if you get dial tone to make an international call. Then repeat the drill with an invalid password and make sure you don’t get a dial tone. Next, call your Incredible PBX DID from a phone other than your authorized cellphone. You should not get a prompt for a DISA password. Finally, we use the first three digits of a U.K. number to identify a matching NANPA area code. Then, we find hotels in the two matching cities. For example, one might attempt to call a hotel in Bath, England (44 1… ……) and a hotel in Bermuda (441-…-….). The U.K. call should go through, and the Bermuda call should fail. If you pass all three tests with flying colors, you’re good to go.

Using Wazo for FreeVoipDeal Calling

We previously have documented how to create a FreeVoipDeal trunk using Incredible PBX for Wazo. Just follow along in that tutorial to get started. Wazo will not actually process outgoing calls through the FreeVoipDeal trunk until you configure an outgoing route in IPBX:Call Management:Outgoing Calls. Outgoing call routing is covered in this separate tutorial. Once you complete those two steps, you can place outgoing calls from any SIP phone connected to your Wazo PBX. In addition, you can use Wazo’s WebRTC client to place calls using any FireFox or Chrome browser. Our complete WebRTC tutorial for Wazo is here.

Adding DISA Support to Your Wazo PBX

If you’re new to PBX lingo, DISA stands for Direct Inward System Access. As the name implies, it lets you make calls from outside your PBX using the call resources inside your PBX. This gives anybody with your DISA credentials the ability to make calls through your PBX on your nickel. It probably ranks up there as the most abused and one of the most loved features of the modern PBX.

We use two-step authentication with DISA to make it harder for the bad guys. First, the outside phone number has to match the whitelist of numbers authorized to use your DISA service. And, second, you have to supply the DISA password for your server before you get dialtone to place an outbound call. Ultimately, of course, the monkey is on your back to create a very secure DISA password and to change it regularly. If all this sounds too scary, don’t install DISA on your PBX.

1. Download the DISA dialplan script into your /root folder where it can be edited:

cd /root
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/disa-xivo.tar.gz
tar zxvf disa-xivo.tar.gz
rm -f disa-xivo.tar.gz
nano -w disa-xivo.txt

2. When the editor opens the dialplan code, move the cursor down to the following line:

exten => 3472,n,GotoIf($["${CALLERID(number)}"="701"]?disago1)  ; Good guy

3. Clone the line by pressing Ctrl-K and then Ctrl-U. Add copies of the line by pressing Ctrl-U again for each phone number you’d like to whitelist so that the caller can access DISA on your server. Now edit each line and replace 701 with the 10-digit number to be whitelisted.

4. Move the cursor down to the following line and replace 12341234 with the 8-digit numeric password that callers will have to enter to access DISA on your server:

exten => 3472,n,GotoIf($["${MYCODE}" = "12341234"]?disago2:bad,1)

5. Save the dialplan changes by pressing Ctrl-X, then Y, then ENTER.

6. Now copy the dialplan code into your Wazo setup, remove any previous copies of the code, and restart Asterisk:

cd /root
sed -i ':// BEGIN DISA:,:// END DISA:d' /etc/asterisk/extensions_extra.d/xivo-extrafeatures.conf
cat disa-xivo.txt >> /etc/asterisk/extensions_extra.d/xivo-extrafeatures.conf
/etc/init.d/asterisk restart

7. The traditional way to access DISA is to add it as an undisclosed option in an IVR that is assigned to one of your inbound trunks (DIDs). For the demo IVR that is installed with Incredible PBX, edit the ivr-1.conf configuration file and change the “option 0” line so that it looks like this. Then SAVE your changes.

exten => 0,1(ivrsel-0),Dial(Local/3472@default)

8. Adjust the inbound calls route of one of your DIDs to point to the demo IVR by changing the destination to Customized with the following Command:

Goto(ivr-1,s,1)

Here’s how it looks with the Nerd Vittles Wazo Demo IVR:



9. Now you should be able to call your DID and choose option 0 to access DISA assuming you have whitelisted the number from which you are calling. When prompted, enter the DISA password you assigned and press #. You then should be able to dial any number supported by your dialplan to make an outside call from within your PBX.

SECURITY HINT: Whenever you implement a new IVR on your PBX, it’s always a good idea to call in from an outside number 13 TIMES and try every key from your phone to make sure there is no unanticipated hole in your setup. Be sure to also let the IVR timeout to see what result you get.

Using 3CX’s Free PBX and Client for Calling

As we’ve previously noted, we will be configuring 3CX’s free PBX1 to make calls exclusively using a FreeVoipDeal trunk. So we’ll first configure the FreeVoipDeal Trunk on the 3CX platform. Then we’ll add appropriate Outbound Rules. And finally we’ll set up the 3CX Client to place outgoing calls directly using the FreeVoipDeal trunk on the 3CX server. Begin by adding a Generic SIP Trunk that looks something like this using your FreeVoipDeal credentials. The Main Trunk No must be a spoofed number (note the format!) that you have previously verified following the Spoofing Your CallerID instructions above. In the free 3CX implementation, you probably would want this number to be your cellphone so you could receive incoming calls.



For the Outbound Rules, these will depend upon the countries you wish to call. For each country whose dialed numbers differ in length, you will need a different Outbound Rule. For example, for NANPA calls in the U.S. and Canada, you could set up an Outbound Rule for 10-digit dialing like this:

Rule Name: NANPA
Calls to: Numbers with a Length of 10
Make Outbound Calls on Route 1: Generic SIP Trunk
Strip Digits on Route 1: 0
Prepend on Route 1: +1

For international calls, you’d use similar logic but adjust the dial string length to match your international destination and change the Prepend string to just the + symbol.

Once you have the FreeVoipDeal trunk up and running, create an Extension that will be used to place the calls using the 3CX Client. Send yourself the Welcome Email. Install the 3CX Client on your smartphone. Open the welcome email on your smartphone and double-click on the attachment to configure the 3CX Client for use. Now you should be able to place calls to all of the destinations you configure in your Outbound Rules above.

Using FreeVoipDeal’s MobileVoIP App

FreeVoipDeal also offers a MobileVoIP app that can be used directly on your smartphone (Android, iOS, and Windows phone versions available) using any Wi-Fi, UMTS, 4G/LTE, 3G, GPRS or EDGE connection. The drawback is the lack of the three extra layers of security protection that Incredible PBX using DISA offers. MobileVOIP lets you log in with your registered Betamax credentials and offers the option to use your existing VoIP credit from your smartphone. The downside is that anyone with the app and your credentials can call anywhere and talk for as long as they like on your nickel using any of your registered CallerIDs. You’ve been warned. For more information or to download the app for your mobile device, go here. Remember to dial the “+1” country code prefix for U.S./Canada calls.

Originally published: Monday, April 24, 2017


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of Asterisk gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

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  • Run on Premise or in the Cloud, on Windows and now on Linux
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  • Easy install, backup & restore, version upgrades
  • Automatically configures IP Phones, SIP Trunks & Gateways

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    1. Don’t confuse 3CX’s free PBX with Sangoma’s FreePBX® GUI. The former is a truly free PBX. The latter is a code generator for Asterisk that commingles free components with commercial nagware for which you have to pay registration fees before use and maintenance fees annually after purchase. []
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    This article has 2 comments

    1. Just a quick correction, voip-comparison.com is NOT maintained by Betamax Gmbh (or the related companies Finarea SA or Delmont sarl) but rather by some guy in Germany who picked up where I left off many years ago, with a comparison table on voip-info.org. The Facebook page you linked to is maintained by the same guy.

      There is NO official Betamax comparison site, so the accuracy of the comparisons on voip-comparison.com always depends on the Finarea/Betamax/Delmont services not changing the format of their website, etc.

      This is a most useful tool if using Betamax/Delmont VoIP services: http://www.timedicer.co.uk/programs/help/dellmont-credit-checker.sh.php

      Thanks for your blog and especially your Asterisk contributions.

      Wolf

    2. “Google has (again) warned that Google Talk (aka GChat), XMPP, and SMS messaging are going away on June 26”

      This has ALWAYS been Google’s MO. Is anyone really surprised? Here’s what they do:

      1) offer a “free” service so they don’t have to pay anyone to test their code

      2) take feedback from the unpaid testers to improve their code enough until they can monetize it

      3) cut off the testers without even a “thank you”

      4) sell all of the tester’s personal information to advertisers

      5) PROFIT!

      They ARE, after all, primarily a data-mining company (not a search engine as most everyone has been mislead to believe).