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Return of Free Voicemail Transcription & Voice Dialing

It’s been a bumpy road for Speech-to-Text solutions with Asterisk® since Google pulled the rug out from under their (formerly) free offering. We found a partial solution with IBM’s offering which now provides 500 free minutes a month on their LITE plan, or you can choose their Standard Pricing Plan and pay 2¢ a minute for all you can eat. Be advised that the IBM offerings have changed three times in the last year. But we’ve been searching for turnkey voicemail transcription and voice dialer offerings that could be incorporated into Incredible PBX 2020 at no cost. And now we’ve found one thanks to Mozilla Machine Learning Group’s DeepSpeech project. Details here. We also want to thank @Stepan Novotill and @jerrm on the PIAF Forum for their work in bringing this project to fruition for the Asterisk community.

The instructions which follow should work fine with existing Incredible PBX 2020, Incredible PBX 16-15, and Incredible PBX 13-13 platforms running on CentOS 7. We haven’t tested on other platforms, but @jerrm has offered some tips for those using Debian/Raspbian.

Deploying Voicemail Transcription with DeepSpeech

Log into your server as root and issue these commands to install DeepSpeech components:
(NOTE: Lines 4, 5, and 6 below are actually part of a single line of code)

cd /usr/local/sbin
yum -y install python3-pip wget
pip3 install deepspeech
wget -O - https://github.com/mozilla/DeepSpeech/releases/download/v0.6.1/deepspeech-0.6.1-models.tar.gz | tar xzv --no-same-owner
chown -R asterisk:asterisk deepspeech-0.6.1-models
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmail-deepspeech.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmail-deepspeech.tar.gz
rm -f sendmail-deepspeech.tar.gz
cp -p sendmailmp3.deepspeech sendmailmp3

In the FreePBX GUI, edit your extensions and enable voicemail with settings like these:

For delivery of transcribed voicemail messages to arrive in your email, you obviously must have outbound email working on your PBX. You can test this using the following command with your actual email address:

echo "test" | mail -s testmessage yourname@gmail.com

If the email never arrives, first check your spam folder. If it’s not there, then chances are you have not configured an FQDN for your PBX properly. Try the following tips.

hostname noreply.incrediblepbx.com
nano -w /etc/hosts

Make certain the line in /etc/hosts begins like this:   noreply.incrediblepbx.com pbx.local

Deploying a Free Voice Dialer with DeepSpeech

Once you complete the steps above, it’s easy to deploy a free Voice Dialer for Asterisk on any Incredible PBX platform. This allows you to pick up a phone connected to your PBX, dial 411, and call any individual or company listed in your AsteriDex database by saying their name.

Issue the following commands to replace the default Incredible PBX Voice Dialer setup:
(NOTE: Lines 6 and 7 below are actually part of a single line of code)

cd /usr/local/sbin
mv deepspeech-411.txt /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin
mv getnumber2.sh /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin
cd /etc/asterisk
sed -i '\:// BEGIN Call by Name:,\:// END Call by Name:d' extensions_custom.conf
sed -i '/\[from-internal-custom\]/r /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/deepspeech-411.txt' extensions_custom.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

Now pick up a phone on your PBX and dial 411. When prompted, say "American Airlines" and then press the pound (#) key. You’ll be connected to American Airlines reservations. Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, January 20, 2020

Need help with Asterisk? Visit the VoIP-info Forum.


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  1. Well that was fun. But unfortunately running deepspeech command generates an "Illegal instruction" error. This is on an Incredible PBX 2020 system.

    [wm: Try running the two commands below. This should tell you what came unglued. Are you sure no errors were shown as you executed the install commands (including combining the three lines as noted)?

    cd /usr/local/sbin
    deepspeech --model /usr/local/sbin/deepspeech-0.6.1-models/output_graph.pbmm --lm /usr/local/sbin/deepspeech-0.6.1-models/lm.binary --trie /usr/local/sbin/deepspeech-0.6.1-models/trie --audio /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/en/no-valid-responce-pls-try-again.wav
  2. The install worked fine. I did it again just to be sure. The command and it’s output below:

    root@localhost:/usr/local/sbin $ deepspeech –model /usr/local/sbin/deepspeech-0.6.1-models/output_graph.pbmm –lm /usr/local/sbin/deepspeech-0.6.1-models/lm.binary –trie /usr/local/sbin/deepspeech-0.6.1-models/trie –audio /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/en/no-valid-responce-pls-try-again.wav
    Illegal instruction

  3. There appears to be a problem with CPUs that do not support AVX, which in many cases virtualized PBXes do not. Searching around I haven’t found a suitable fix (yet).

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