If you’ve been waiting for a low-cost, feature-rich SIP phone that meshes perfectly with your Asterisk® PBX, your prayers have been answered. Digium has just released not one, but four, new SIP phones with prices starting at $59. No, that’s not a typo. Digium gave us a couple of early models to play with, and today we’ll walk you through the incredibly simple setup. We would begin by noting that, despite the pricing, these phones are configured with nothing resembling a bargain basement feature set. All four models have color displays, HD Voice, POE for use without the $15 power adapter, and at least two lines. The phones can be configured using the phones themselves, or through a slick web interface, or with auto-provisioning by MAC address. Beginning with the $89 A22, the top three models support gigabit Ethernet. With the $119 A25, you get four line registrations as well as a second LCD supporting six Rapid Dial keys or up to 30 BLF entries. The top-of-the-line $169 A30 supports six line registrations and an LED setup that closely matches our previous VoIP Phone of the Year, Yealink’s T46G. While the phones were not designed for use with Switchvox®, we found them to be plug-and-play with 3CX® which is probably also true with Switchvox even though we have not tested them on that platform. We have been using our A22 phone with one line connected to Incredible PBX® for the Raspberry Pi and the second connected to VitalBox. We’ve had zero issues with the phone, and sound quality is excellent.



Connecting Digium’s A-Series IP Phone

To get started, you’ll need a power source for the phone which can be either a POE network connection or a power adapter. You’ll also need to connect to a network that can provide DHCP or VLAN configuration data. Once the phone boots up, press the checkmark button (✓) twice to display the IP address assigned to the phone. Using a desktop browser, navigate to that IP address and enter admin:789 as the default login credentials.

Configuring a SIP Extension on Your IP Phone

Once you’re logged in, click on the Line tab and fill in the blanks for the SIP1 account using the desired extension number, extension password, and IP address of your Asterisk server. Be sure Activate is checked. It should look something like the following. Then click Apply.

This one-minute setup is all that’s required to put your new phone into production with Asterisk. You’re ready to make and receive calls. The L1 button on the A20 or A22 phone (pictured above) should now be lit. To light up the L2 button, add a second SIP connection by repeating the drill after choosing the SIP2 Line from the pull-down menu. If you have redundant PBXs, fill in the IP address of the Backup server, and the phone will automatically failover when the primary PBX goes down. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

With 3CX extensions, the setup is virtually identical except the phone’s Authentication Name field should reflect the Authentication Name chosen when setting up the 3CX extension.

Customizing Your SIP Phone Settings

VoiceMail Setup. The voicemail button can be activated for one or both SIP lines in the Advanced Settings tab under each of the SIP connections. Check the Subscribe to Voice Message box and enter the Voice Message Number to retrieve your voicemails, e.g. *98701 for extension 701 on an Asterisk PBX or 999 for a 3CX extension’s voicemail.

Customizing Phone Display. If you’d like to customize the branding and background image on your phone, navigate to Phone Settings and click the Advanced tab. Here’s a link to download one of our favorite beach scenes (pictured above), or you can use your own 320×240 BMP image on the A20 and A22. The high end phones use a 480×272 BMP image. The Asterisk label at the top of the phone’s display can also be adjusted in the Greeting Words field. We’re Enchilada fans personally. 🙂

Changing Passwords and PINs. You also can adjust the passwords and PINs for the phone device itself under the Phone Settings:Advanced tab. The default is 789. To modify the admin credentials for the browser interface or to add new accounts, go to System and click on the Account tab. Because the phone can be configured using either the phone itself or the browser interface, you’ll need to change both sets of passwords to secure your phone.

Adjusting Codecs. Depending upon your PBX setup, you may need to adjust or reorder the codecs for one or both of your SIP lines. Simply navigate to Line:SIP1:Codec Settings and make any necessary changes. HINT: You’ll rarely have a problem if you make G.711U (U.S.) or G.711A (elsewhere) your primary codec although G.722 is what you’ll want for HD Voice. This is especially important if you’re using Google Voice trunks or 3CX client software.

Auto-Provisioning Your A20, A22, and A25 Phones

Let’s get to the fun stuff now. Everything we’ve covered (and much more) can be scripted with these new phones. You can read all about it here. For today, let’s get your Phonebook Contacts populated using your AsteriDex database entries. And then you can press the Down button on the phone to retrieve your Contacts.

Setting Up Phone Provisioning. Before you can auto-provision your phone, both your phone and your Asterisk server need a little navigation information. Let’s start with the phone so login as admin:789 to get started. Click on the System option and then the Auto Provision tab. Write down the last 12 digits of your phone’s MAC address (CPE Serial Number highlighted above). Check the DownloadDeviceConfig option (as shown). Disable the DHCP Option and the SIP Plug and Play options by clicking on the respective tabs. Then open the Static Provisioning Server option (as shown). Enter the local IP address of your server assuming your phone and server are both behind a firewall. For the Protocol Type, choose HTTP. For the Update Mode, choose Update After Reboot. Then click the Apply button.

Next, let’s configure the phone so that you can press the Down arrow button to access your Phonebook Contacts. Click on the Function Key option in the left margin. Then look in the Programmable Keys section and locate the row with the settings for the Down button. Change the entry in the Desktop column to Phonebook. Then click the Apply button.

Configuring Asterisk for Phone Provisioning. Now we need to get your server set up to support phone provisioning. The way provisioning works is we will set up a provisioning profile for each phone which will be processed by your web server whenever a phone is rebooted. This profile will also tell the phone where to find your Phonebook Contacts XML file. To get started, navigate to /var/www/html and create a new .cfg file for each of your phones using the 12-character MAC address of the phone, e.g. 000123456789.cfg. The file should look like the following with the exception of the Auto Pbook Url entry which should reflect the local IP address of your server:

<<VOIP CONFIG FILE>>Version:2.0.0.0

<PHONE CONFIG MODULE>
LCD Title          :IncredblePBX

<AUTOUPDATE CONFIG MODULE>
Download CommonConf:0
Download DeviceConf:1
Check FailTimes    :5
update PB Interval :720
Clr PB B4 Import   :1
Trust Certification:0
Enable Auto Upgrade:0
Upgrade Server 1   :
Upgrade Server 2   :
Auto Upgrade intval:24
Auto Pbook Url     :http://192.168.0.108/phonebook.xml

<<END OF FILE>>

Populating Phonebook Contacts with AsteriDex. Now we’re ready to build the Phonebook Contacts file (phonebook.xml) using the AsteriDex 4 database. Just issue the following commands and then reboot each of your phones (Menu+8+Yes):

cd /var/www/html/asteridex4
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/asterisk-phonebook.tar.gz
tar zxvf asterisk-phonebook.tar.gz
rm -f asterisk-phonebook.tar.gz
php asterisk-phonebook.php

Digium A-Series IP Phone User Guide

Last but not least, take a look at Digium’s A-Series IP Phone User Guide (PDF) for more tips.

Final Thoughts on A-Series IP Phones

If you couldn’t already tell, we’re quite impressed with the new A-Series phones from Digium. If you’re on a budget, the $59 model is one terrific bargain for home or SOHO use. The only thing you’re really forfeiting with this phone is the gigabit Ethernet port which will have zero impact on small and medium-sized network implementations of a VoIP server. Rather than buying power adapters for your phones, drop by your favorite WalMart and purchase a network switch that includes POE support. They start at about $30. Then pick one of these phones up from your favorite provider and let us know what you think. You’ll also be helping to fund Digium’s open source Asterisk project. Enjoy!

Originally published: Friday, April 13, 2018





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This article has 1 comment

  1. These are just overpriced Fanvil phones.

    [WM: Yes. They do look familiar, but there’s lots to love about Fanvil’s IP phones. And Digium’s pricing is comparable so you might as well help out the Asterisk project.]

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