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The Most Versatile VoIP Provider: FREE PORTING

Adding Incredible PBX Goodies & More to VitalPBX 4



As continued use of FreePBX® becomes more and more precarious because of deprecated components and looming incompatibility with Asterisk® 21, the appeal of 3CX and VitalPBX as a VoIP platform becomes increasingly compelling. Whether you’re a home user, a small business, or a call center, VitalPBX provides a solution to meet your requirements. To make the transition a bit less painful, today we introduce a number of popular Incredible PBX applications for VitalPBX 4. And, as always, all of the Incredible PBX additions are free, open source, and GPL code.


If you’re unfamiliar with the VitalPBX VoIP platform, here are some features that may be of interest. First, it runs on the latest Debian 11 platform and is Asterisk-based freeware with optional commercial components. Most GPL applications designed for FreePBX will run equally well under VitalPBX without modification. Second, VitalPBX provides multi-tenant functionality with the purchase of a commercial module. Third, VitalPBX supports Asterisk High Availability (HA) failover at no cost using an open source script provided by the VitalPBX developers. Complete tutorial here. Compare this to the FreePBX HA offering which retails for $1,500. Commercial modules offer Microsoft Teams integration as well as the full complement of Sonata Suite Call Center offerings: Billing, Switchboard, Stats, Dialer, and Recordings. Faxing, Paging, Queues Callback, and Phone Provisioning modules are also available at modest cost. Keep reading if any of these are of interest to you.


Getting Started with VitalPBX

Before you can install VitalPBX applications, you’ll obviously need a VitalPBX server. You can build the platform with on-premise hardware, or in the cloud using one of our recommended providers, or on a Raspberry Pi. We recommend at least 4GB of RAM and at least a 30GB disk. Two gigs of RAM will suffice with a 2GB swap file. VitalPBX can be deployed using the VitalPBX ISO, or you can start with a fresh Debian 11 platform and then run the VitalPBX install script:

wget https://repo.vitalpbx.com/vitalpbx/v4/apt/debian_vpbx_installer.sh
chmod +x debian_vpbx_installer.sh
apt install sudo
./debian_vpbx_installer.sh

For Raspberry Pi deployments, here are the steps using a 32GB microSD card:

Begin by downloading Raspberry Pi Imager for PC, MAC, or Ubuntu desktop. Run the Imager from your desktop computer with the following settings after inserting your 32GB microSD card into your desktop machine (see the sidebar for an inexpensive microSD/USB device):

OS: Raspberry Pi OS (other) -> Raspberry Pi OS Lite (64-bit)
Storage: Select your microSD card (32GB Type 10 recommended)
Click WRITE

Remove the microSD card from your desktop computer. Insert it into your Raspberry Pi and power on the device. The initial Raspberry Pi OS setup for the United States follows. For users elsewhere, follow your nose.

Choose keyboard layout: (Other, English (US) for USA users)
Keyboard Layout: English (US)
username: nerd
password: make it secure, type it twice
login: nerd with new password
sudo passwd root
create new secure root password
logout: exit
login: root with new root password
userdel nerd
nano -w /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  edit and uncomment: PermitRootLogin yes
  uncomment PasswordAuthentication yes
  save: Ctrl-X, Y, then ENTER key
run: raspi-config
  Settings Apply to: pi
  Localization: WLAN Country: US
  System Options: Wireless LAN: Enter your SSID and SSID passphrase
  System Options: Hostname: debian
  System Options: Power LED: YES
  Interface Options: SSH: YES
  Localization: Locale: Disable en_GB.UTF-8 and Enable en_US.UTF-8
  Localization: TimeZone: America, NewYork
  FINISH and Reboot

Once your Raspberry Pi has restarted, login as root with your root password and run the debian_vpbx_installer.sh script from above.

Adding a Whitelist & Hardening Your Firewall

We’ve built firewall whitelist rules for some of our favorite providers: Skyetel, BulkVS, VoIP.ms, Acrobits, SignalWire, Nexmo, Callcentric, and Anveo Direct. Also included are all private LAN, non-routable IP addresses and the default OpenVPN addresses. Issuing the following commands will install this whitelist and overwrite your existing firewall whitelist, if any. WARNING: The existing VitalPBX Firewall exposes all of your SIP ports as well as SSH, HTTP, and HTTPS so deploy VitalPBX behind a hardware-based firewall unless you significantly harden the VitalPBX Firewall ports. If you’re sure you’ve whitelisted the IP addresses of all your remote PCs, extensions, and trunk providers in Admin -> Firewall -> Access Control, then you can harden your firewall and protect your server by deleting the following entries in Admin -> Firewall -> Rules: HTTP, HTTPS, SSH, PJSIP, SIP, and IAX2. Then test all your connections to make certain they still are accessible. For future additions, we strongly recommend using OpenVPN addresses which require no new Firewall additions.

cd /root
wget https://filedn.com/lBgbGypMOdDm8PWOoOiBR7j/VitalPBX-4/whitelist.sql
mysql -u root ombutel < whitelist.sql
vitalpbx apply-firewall
iptables -nL

gTTS Text-to-Speech Engine for VitalPBX

We've tested and implemented at least a half dozen text-to-speech engines to support Asterisk applications including Festival, FLITE, Amazon's Polly, IBM's Bluemix TTS, Pico TTS, and more. None are better than Google's free gTTS engine. Here's how to deploy it with VitalPBX to support all of your applications requiring TTS support. Login to your server as root and issue the following commands:

apt-get update
apt-get -y install jq libsox-fmt-all
apt-get -y install python3-pip
pip install --upgrade pip
pip3 install --upgrade pip
ln -s /usr/bin/pip3 /usr/bin/pip
pip install gTTS

Adding Custom Contexts Support to VitalPBX

In addition to the commercial modules, there are a number of free VitalPBX add-ons, one of which is Custom Contexts. We would recommend adding all of the free ones to get started. After logging into the web interface as admin, navigate to Admin -> Add-ons -> Add-ons. Click the Check Online button to load the latest available add-ons. Then click the Install icon for the following add-ons: System API, Authentication Codes, Bulk Extensions, Custom Contexts, Phone Books, and Task Manager. Once these add-ons are installed, you can install the following components.


Adding Incredible PBX Starter Kit to VitalPBX

We've put together a collection of some of our favorite Incredible PBX applications to enhance the VitalPBX platform. These include telephone apps like Yahoo News Headlines (dial 951), NWS Weather Reports by ZIP Code (947), Today in History (86329), and Telephone Reminders (123). In addition, we've reworked the pbxstatus utility (above) which will display whenever you log into your server as root from the Linux command line.

Many of these applications rely upon the gTTS text-to-speech engine so be sure you install it before proceeding.

To install the Incredible PBX collection, log into your server as root and issue the following commands:

cd /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx
cp extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf /root/extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf.bak
cd /
wget https://filedn.com/lBgbGypMOdDm8PWOoOiBR7j/VitalPBX-4/incrediblepbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx.tar.gz
rm -f incrediblepbx.tar.gz
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"
echo "0 0 * * * root /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/run_recurring >/dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab
echo "3 0 * * * root /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin/run_reminders >/dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab

Using Telephone Reminders with VitalPBX

Nerd Vittles Telephone Reminder System has been reworked for VitalPBX 4 and PHP 8.1. It lets you schedule reminders for future events (at least 4 minutes in the future) by telephone by dialing 123. When the appointed date and time arrives, Asterisk swings into action and places a call to the number you designate to deliver a customized reminder message. Recurring reminders also are supported. You can set up reminders that place calls daily or on weekdays as well as weekly, monthly, and annually. This means it can be used to wake you up in the morning, or to remind Granny to take her medicine every day, or to remind your Little League team of practice times and locations, or to remind you and your customers of scheduled and recurring events. External reminder calls are supported using your default outbound route's dial string, e.g. NXX-NXX-XXXX.

The complete tutorial for Telephone Reminders 4 is available here. The web interface is not yet supported on the VitalPBX platform; however, this Telephone Reminders app adds features that are not available in the *38 offering included in the VitalPBX Feature Code listing. Among these are optional recurring reminders as well as the ability to revise your reminder message before actually scheduling it.

Headline News & Weather Forecasts & Today in History

These three applications are self-explanatory. The best way to learn about them is to dial the three extensions from any phone registered on your VitalPBX server: Headline News (dial 951), Weather Forecasts by ZIP Code (dial 947), and Today in History (dial T-O-D-A-Y)

Adding OpenVPN to VitalPBX

The most secure method for accessing VitalPBX is to place your server behind a hardware-based firewall and use OpenVPN from the client PCs and phones to access the server. VitalPBX includes an OpenVPN add-on that includes both a server and a free 2-client license. For unlimited clients, you can purchase the commercial module for $120. In the alternative, you can deploy your own OpenVPN server and clients using this Nerd Vittles tutorial for Debian.

If you already have an OpenVPN server in operation, create an OpenVPN client for VitalPBX and name it incrediblepbx.ovpn. Copy it into the /etc directory of your VitalPBX server. Then issue the following commands and reboot to activate OpenVPN on your VitalPBX server:

apt-get update
apt-get -y install openvpn unzip
cd /
wget https://filedn.com/lBgbGypMOdDm8PWOoOiBR7j/VitalPBX-4/openvpn-vitalpbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf openvpn-vitalpbx.tar.gz
rm -f openvpn-vitalpbx.tar.gz
shutdown -r now

Getting Started with Faxing

If your deployment is for a home or home office, then VitalPBX offers a free faxing component for a single trunk. We've tested this with VoIP.ms, and it works flawlessly. Begin by enabling the Virtual Faxes module. For your Trunk, enable FAX Detection and T.38, if desired. For your Fax Device, provide a Description, Destination Email, and CallerID Name and Number. For your Inbound Route, enable Fax Detection and Fax Destination of Fax Devices selecting the Destination Description you assigned to your Fax Device. Now place a test call to your DID from FaxZero.com. The Fax Sending module worked equally well.

Adding CallerID Names for Incoming Calls

Legal Disclaimer: Most CNAM providers have restrictions regarding caching of CNAM data. The courts consistently have ruled that phonebook data is not copyrightable. And every PBX caches CNAM data. After all, that's what CDR logs are all about. Consult with your own attorney if you have concerns, or simply stop reading here. 🙂

Some providers of DIDs also offer CallerID Name (CNAM) service for incoming calls. With VoIP.ms, it's optional and costs $0.008 per call. With BulkVS, it's mandatory and costs $0.003 per call. With many DID providers, you will only receive the CallerID Number on incoming calls. Thus was born our CallerID Trifecta and later Superfecta add-ons many years ago. Most of the free sources from yesteryear have disappeared, and we've only found two commercial sources that are reasonably priced at $0.003 per call: BulkCNAM (from the BulkVS folks) and EZCNAM at same price with a 25¢ credit to let you try out their service. Both work well.

Once you have installed Custom Context module for VitalPBX as well as the Incredible PBX Starter Kit from above, here are the steps to implement CNAM lookups on your incoming calls. First, sign up for an account with one or both of the providers and obtain a SOAP API Key from BulkCNAM or a traditional API key from EZcnam. Then login to your server as root and create an executable install script using the following template for BulkCNAM:

cd /root
rm -f superfecta-bulkcnam
wget https://filedn.com/lBgbGypMOdDm8PWOoOiBR7j/VitalPBX-4/superfecta-bulkcnam
sed -i 's|SOAP-API-KEY|actual-key|' superfecta-bulkcnam
sed -i '\:// BEGIN CallerID Superfecta:,\:// END CallerID Superfecta:d' /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx/extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf
cat superfecta-bulkcnam >> /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx/extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"


Or create an executable install script using the following template for EZCNAM:

cd /root
rm -f superfecta-ezcnam
wget https://filedn.com/lBgbGypMOdDm8PWOoOiBR7j/VitalPBX-4/superfecta-ezcnam
sed -i 's|=API-KEY|=actual-key|' superfecta-ezcnam
sed -i '\:// BEGIN CallerID Superfecta:,\:// END CallerID Superfecta:d' /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx/extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf
cat superfecta-ezcnam >> /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx/extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"


In your install script of choice, replace actual-key with the SOAP API key or API key you obtained from the provider. Make the script executable (chmod +x) and then run it to install the new script in your dialplan. Then reload dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

As deployed, the [superfecta] context assumes you want incoming calls routed to extension 501. You can modify this in /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx/extensions__80-IncrediblePBX.conf and reload your dialplan.

In the VitalPBX GUI, login as admin and navigate to PBX -> Applications -> Custom Contexts and create a new Custom Context and reload the dialplan:

Description: CallerID Superfecta
Context: superfecta
Extension: s
Priority: 1

Destination:

Custom Contexts -> Incredible PBX

In PBX -> Calls Routing -> Inbound Routes, edit your existing Inbound Route for your incoming DID and set the Inbound Destination to: Custom Contexts -> CallerID Superfecta. Then reload your dialplan.

How It Works: When an incoming call from a new caller is detected, the Superfecta script will greet the caller and ask the caller to press 7. Once the caller presses 7, the Superfecta script will look up the CNAM entry matching the CallerID Number and then route the call to extension 501. Successful callers are whitelisted and logged in the Asterisk database: database show cidname. When the same caller calls again, the call will be routed to extension 501 without prompting to press 7. Additional routing options are available by editing the [superfecta] context.

Configuring Gmail as SMTP Relay Host

The VitalPBX Portal includes the option to configure either a self-hosted email server (which may or may not work depending upon your upstream provider) as well as an SMTP relay host such as Gmail. You'll find it under Admin -> System Settings. In the alternative, you may prefer to do it yourself. Here's how.

1. Log into your server as root and issue the following command:

dpkg-reconfigure postfix

Click OK on the first dialog. Choose Internet Site as your Type of Mail Configuration. Accept the defaults for the System Mail Name, Root and Postmaster Recipient, and Other Destinations. Choose Yes for Forced Synchronous updates. Accept the defaults for the Local Networks, Default Mailbox Size, and Local Address Extension Character. Choose IPv4 for the Internet Protocol.

2. Once Postfix is reconfigured, edit /etc/postfix/main.cf. In the second section of code beginning with relayhost =, replace the relayhost= line with the following block of commands:

relayhost = [smtp.gmail.com]:587
smtp_use_tls = yes
smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtp_sasl_security_options = noanonymous
smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd
smtp_tls_CAfile = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
smtp_fallback_relay =

3. Create the following new file using your Gmail account name and password.

nano -w /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd:

[smtp.gmail.com]:587 yourname@gmail.com:yourpassword

5. Change the permissions on the sasl_passwd file:

chmod 600 /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

6. Use postmap to compile and hash the sasl_passwd file:

postmap /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

7. Restart Postfix: systemctl restart postfix

8. apt -y install mailutils

9. Send yourself a test email: echo "test" | mail -s "Test Mail" somebody@gmail.com

Free Voicemail Transcription of Messages

For many years, Incredible PBX has included documentation to deploy IBM's Speech-to-Text (STT) engine to transcribe voicemail messages and deliver them by email for missed calls. Today we are pleased to bring that same functionality to VitalPBX 4. To get started, make certain that you have outbound email functioning on your server using the steps in the previous section. Then open an account with IBM and sign up for their LITE Speech-to-Text service. This provides you with 500 minutes a month of free STT transcription; however, you must use it at least once every 30 days or risk having your STT account terminated. So you may wish to setup up a recurring weekly reminder at a time when your extension will not otherwise be answered. Set up a short message to assure that voicemail transcription will be triggered. This will keep your LITE plan active without using many of your allocated minutes.

Once you have signed up for the STT-LITE service, navigate to Resources:AI/Machine Learning:STT in the LITE Tier and obtain or create an API Key and URL. Copy both the API Key and URL to your desktop. You'll need them as part of the VitalPBX component install below.


Next, login to your VitalPBX server as root and issue the following commands:

cd /root
apt -y install dos2unix lame
wget https://filedn.com/lBgbGypMOdDm8PWOoOiBR7j/VitalPBX-4/sendmailibm.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm.tar.gz
nano -w sendmailibm
# insert your API Key and URL and Save file: Ctrl-X, Y, ENTER
cp -p sendmailibm /usr/local/sbin/.
cp -p voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx/.
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

When the nano editor opens in step 6 above, insert your API Key and URL in the spaces provided. Then save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then ENTER. Continue with the remaining steps above to complete the install.

By default, this setup assumes that incoming calls are delivered to an extension on your PBX. Assuming that is extension 501, open the VitalPBX GUI and edit your Extension's settings by adding your email address in General Settings and in the Voicemail tab specify Enable Voicemail and Attach Voicemail YES. If you wish to delete the messages from your server after sending the email, specify Delete YES. Then save your settings and reload your dialplan.


Finally, make a test call to that extension and don't answer. Leave a brief message and hang up. The transcribed voicemail together with an MP3 recording of the message should arrive within a minute or two.

You Snooze, You Lose

Sorry to say our supply of free licenses to one of our favorite add-ons, the $100 Starter Kit, has been exhausted. If we get additional ones to hand out, we'll post an update here. Here's what's included in the VitalPBX Starter Kit:


Originally published: Monday, August 7, 2023    Updated: September 13, 2023



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FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

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The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 



The Next Best Thing to (formerly free) Google Voice

Today we want to once again shine the spotlight on LocalPhone, an oft-overlooked VoIP service that’s been around forever. You can call to and be called from any LocalPhone user at no cost. They also offer phone numbers (DIDs) of your choice almost anywhere in the world with free or almost free incoming calls. For those wanting a U.S. DID, the cost is 99¢ a month with a $3 setup fee. That gets you up to 100 free incoming calls a day to your PBX or any SIP phone. Additional calls are a penny per call. There are no limitations on the duration of the calls. If you prefer to forward the calls to your cellphone number in the contiguous U.S., there’s an additional fee of 0.5¢ per minute. But there’s little reason to do that when sending the calls to a SIP softphone on your Android device or iPhone is free. And now the mobile LocalPhone app supports PUSH Notifications. We’ll show you how.

FYI: Nerd Vittles receives a referral credit to keep the lights on when you sign up for service.

Deciphering Your SIP Credentials with LocalPhone

Once you have signed up for a LocalPhone account, the first thing you’ll want to do is make note of your Internet Phone credentials under My Account. These are what we typically refer to as SIP credentials consisting of a SIP ID, SIP password, and SIP server (localphone.com). That’s all you’ll need to configure an incoming LocalPhone trunk on any Incredible PBX® server. And these are the same settings you’d use to configure any SIP phone running on any Android or iOS device. As we noted, you and any other LocalPhone user can call any Internet Phone number worldwide at no cost without limitation. For world travelers, you’ll want to download the LocalPhone app for your smartphone (Android or iOS) and take advantage of their extremely competitive international calling rates.1

Ordering Incoming Numbers (DIDs) from LocalPhone

Begin by funding your account under My Account -> Add Credit. $10 will last you a long time.

The next step is to order one or more incoming phone numbers from LocalPhone.2 If you have friends in far away places that call you frequently, you can purchase DIDs in those locations to eliminate the cost of incoming calls both to them and to you. If you only want a dirt cheap U.S. DID for your home or small office, then LocalPhone is also a perfect fit. Navigate to My Account -> Incoming Numbers and choose the United States as the desired Country. Next, pick the State and City for the desired DID. For free incoming calls, set Call Forwarding and Caller ID for Internet Phone to your assigned Internet Phone SIP ID. You can also elect to forward calls to a SIP URI, if desired. Agree to the terms of use and make your purchase.

Configuring a LocalPhone Trunk with Incredible PBX

We’ve previously covered the LocalPhone trunk setup with Wazo. Most other releases of Incredible PBX include preconfigured LocalPhone trunks for incoming and outgoing calls. Login to the Incredible PBX GUI as admin using your favorite browser and navigate to Connectivity -> Trunks and edit the LocalPhone-In trunk. Set Disable Trunk to NO. Then click the sip-Settings tab. Insert your LocalPhone SIP ID in the username, fromuser, and authuser fields. Insert your LocalPhone SIP Password in the secret field. Change the context field entry to from-trunk. Click on the Incoming tab, and modify the Register String 9999999:yourpassword@localphone.com/9999999 replacing 9999999 with your LocalPhone SIP ID and yourpassword with your LocalPhone SIP Password. Click the Submit button and reload your dialplan when prompted.

Navigate to Connectivity -> Inbound Routes and create a new Inbound Route for LocalPhone using your SIP ID as the DID Number and choosing a desired Destination for incoming calls from your LocalPhone DID. Save your settings and reload the dialplan when prompted.

Configuring a LocalPhone Trunk with VitalPBX

Login to the VitalPBX GUI as admin using your favorite browser and navigate to PBX -> External -> Trunks. Create a new SIP trunk with the following settings replacing 999999 with your LocalPhone SIP ID and 1234 with the LocalPhone SIP Password. Leave the Device for Incoming Calls (User) section blank. Then click SAVE and reload your dialplan.

  • Description: LocalPhone
  • Codecs: ulaw,alaw
  • Local Username: 999999
  • Remote Host: localphone.com
  • Remote Port: 5060
  • Local Secret: 1234
  • Insecure: Port,Invite
  • Allow Inbound Calls: YES
  • Username: [leave blank]
  • Host: [leave blank]
  • Local Secret: [leave blank]
  • Remote Username: 999999
  • Remote Secret: 1234
  • From User: 999999
  • From Domain: localphone.com
  • Qualify: YES
  • Insecure: [leave blank]
  • IP Authentication: NO
  • Qualify: [leave default]
  • Register String: 999999:1234@localphone.com/999999

Navigate to PBX -> External -> Inbound Routes. Create a new Inbound Route for LocalPhone using your SIP ID as the DID Number and choosing a desired Destination for incoming calls from your LocalPhone DID. Save your settings and reload the dialplan when prompted.

Configuring a LocalPhone Trunk with FreePBX

Login to the FreePBX® GUI as admin using your favorite browser and navigate to Connectivity -> Trunks. Add a new chan_sip trunk named localphone. Then click on the sipSettings tab and enter the following replacing 999999 with your LocalPhone SIP ID and 1234 with the LocalPhone SIP Password.

  • username=9999999
  • type=friend
  • secret=1234
  • nat=no
  • insecure=port,invite
  • host=localphone.com
  • fromuser=9999999
  • fromdomain=localphone.com
  • dtmfmode=rfc2833
  • disallow=all
  • context=from-trunk
  • canreinvite=no
  • authuser=9999999
  • allow=ulaw&alaw

Next, click on the Incoming tab and enter the following Register String replacing 999999 with your LocalPhone SIP ID and 1234 with the LocalPhone SIP Password:

9999999:1234@localphone.com/9999999

Then click SUBMIT and reload your dialplan.

Navigate to Connectivity -> Inbound Routes and create a new Inbound Route for LocalPhone using your SIP ID as the DID Number and choosing a desired Destination for incoming calls from your LocalPhone DID. Save your settings and reload the dialplan when prompted.

Using Local Numbers for International Calls

LocalPhone has a unique feature that lets you dial a local number from a phone number you have whitelisted in your country and reach almost anyone in the world that you’ve added to your Contacts List. You only pay LocalPhone’s discounted international calling rate for the calls. For example, to call a landline in the U.K. from the U.S. using a LocalPhone-provided U.S. phone number, the calling rate is less than a penny a minute. A call to Cyprus by dialing a U.S. number assigned to your account for your whitelisted phone numbers is 4.5 cents per minute. To get started setting up your whitelisted phone numbers and contacts list, navigate to My Account -> Local Numbers in your LocalPhone account. In your Local Numbers list, first add and verify phone numbers you want to authorize to make calls on your nickel. Next, add the names and phone numbers of international destinations you wish to reach by dialing a local number. LocalPhone will immediately assign a local number for each destination. Simply add these local numbers to the contacts list on your smartphone, and you can call from anywhere in your country at the discounted LocalPhone international calling rates. There are no double-dialing or call menus to navigate. Dialing the assigned local number transparently connects you directly to your destination with no intermediate hurdles.

Using LocalPhone with Other Trunk Providers

So long as your PBX doesn’t have more than two incoming calls to a single DID at the same time, the most economical PBX design is to use LocalPhone DIDs as your published DIDs. This reduces the cost of incoming calls to less than a dollar a month per DID for up to 3,000 incoming calls of unlimited duration. Then use one of our Platinum Sponsors, Skyetel or our soon-to-be-available ClearlyIP SIP trunking service for outbound calls and spoof the outbound CallerID on those other trunks using your LocalPhone DID.

Enjoying the Best of All Worlds with LocalPhone

If you have an iPhone or Android smartphone in addition to a PBX, you can take advantage of LocalPhone’s ability to send incoming calls to multiple destinations. Just make sure your PBX isn’t routing the incoming calls to a destination that is automatically answered, e.g. an IVR. On your Android phone, download the VitalPBX Communicator from the Google Play Store and configure a SIP connection using your LocalPhone SIP credentials. Incoming calls from your LocalPhone DIDs and Internet Phone Number now will be sent to both destinations.

If you have followed one of our previous tutorials that document making SIP URI calls from either a PBX or a SIP client such as LinPhone on your smartphone, then you can take advantage of LocalPhone’s incoming SIP URI feature.3 Just dial 9999999@localphone.com where 9999999 is any LocalPhone SIP ID. You also can add Custom Extensions in Incredible PBX much like the Lenny extension using a Dial string of SIP/9999999@localphone.com to reach worldwide LocalPhone destinations from any PBX extension at no cost. Enjoy!

Originally published: Monday, December 9, 2019



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


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 


  1. Rates are based on the lowest pay as you go per-minute price to call a landline or a mobile. Skype is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation. []
  2. LocalPhone advises that DID fulfillment can take up to 14 days although our orders always have been completed in less than an hour. []
  3. LocalPhone offers call filtering for your Internet Phone number using either a blacklist or whitelist in addition to offering the option of blocking anonymous calls. []

The SMS Toolkit: Integrating Text Messaging into VitalPBX

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that most folks spend a lot more time texting on their smartphones rather than talking. So it only made sense to develop some useful SMS tools to get the most out of your VitalPBX platform. Today we’re pleased to introduce SMS Toolkit for VitalPBX using SMS-enabled DIDs from Skyetel, VoIP.ms, and Vitelity. Any SMS message sent to an SMS-enabled DID associated with your PBX will be processed by Incredible PBX which will do the heavy lifting and either call you back with the query results or reply to the text message. You can whitelist an IP address in your firewall, retrieve news headlines or a weather forecast, and look up a phone number in your AsteriDex phone book, or place a call through your PBX using the AsteriDex Voice Dialer. You can enable and disable call forwarding from your PBX extension to your smartphone, and a simple SMS command also brings the calling flexibility of DISA to your smartphone. Finally, there are commands to actually help you manage your PBX.

The SMS Toolkit provides two layers of security. First, you must whitelist the phone numbers from which to process queries. Second, for the more vulnerable queries, a PIN is required as well. Here are 15 SMS queries that let you harness the power of Incredible PBX via SMS:

  1. @help – Play a list of supported SMS commands
  2. @news – Retrieve latest news headlines from Yahoo
  3. @weather – Retrieve weather report by zip code
  4. @wolfram – Siri-like query to Wolfram Alpha
  5. @whitelist – Whitelist a new IP address in your firewall
  6. @disa – Use DISA calling from your smartphone with password
  7. @cf on – Enable call forwarding from PBX extension to smartphone
  8. @cf off – Disable call forwarding from PBX extension
  9. @asteridex – Use AsteriDex Voice Dialer to place a call from PBX
  10. @fail2ban+ XXXXX – Restart Fail2Ban with PIN: XXXXX
  11. @fail2ban- XXXXX – Stop Fail2Ban with PIN: XXXXX
  12. @firewall+ XXXXX – Restart FirewallD with PIN: XXXXX
  13. @firewall- XXXXX – Stop FirewallD with PIN: XXXXX
  14. @asterisk+ XXXXX – Restart Asterisk with PIN: XXXXX
  15. @pbxstatus – Returns status of Asterisk, Fail2Ban, and FirewallD

Prerequisites for SMS Toolkit Deployment

To get started, you’ll need a DID from Skyetel, Vitelity, or VoIP.ms that supports SMS messaging. You’ll be hard-pressed to beat our Skyetel special which is summarized at the end of this article, but the choice is all yours. The way this works is you provide a forwarding email address in the Skyetel, Vitelity, or VoIP.ms portal for delivery of incoming SMS messages. These emails will be sent to your PBX where we will use Postfix and our mailcall script to process the messages and deliver the results.

Since Skyetel, Vitelity, and VoIP.ms will be delivering incoming SMS messages by email, it means you’ll also need a dedicated account and fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) for your server, e.g. smsuser@mypbx.mydomain.com. While a dynamic IP address will work if you implement automatic FQDN updating on your PBX, a static IP address for your PBX is obviously preferable and our recommended VitalPBX cloud solution provides that.

Implementing the SMS Toolkit for VitalPBX

Let’s walk through the steps to put all the pieces in place for the SMS Toolkit:

  1. Add a Dedicated Account to Linux for SMS Messaging
  2. Configure VitalPBX for Receipt of Incoming SMS Emails
  3. Configure Postfix for Receipt of Incoming Emails
  4. Obtain and Configure DID with Skyetel, Vitelity, or VoIP.ms
  5. Install and Configure MailCall Components

1. Adding a Dedicated Account to VitalPBX

To simplify the task of sifting through incoming emails, we’ll want to create a new Linux user account that can be dedicated to receipt of SMS email messages. You can use any name you prefer instead of smsuser. The second and third commands will verify that the account has been created with support for incoming mail. Just log into your server as root and issue the following commands:

adduser smsuser --shell=/bin/false --no-create-home --system -U
ls /var/spool/mail/smsuser
mail -u smsuser

 

2. Configuring VitalPBX to Receive Inbound Email

By design, both Postfix and the VitalPBX firewall block incoming email. We’re going to change that but, in doing so, we wish to caution that we don’t want to turn your server into an open mail relay for the spammers of the world. Once we’ve opened up your server to receive email, it’s important to test it to be sure it’s not insecure. Because the SMS Toolkit is intended to be a dedicated application just for you as administrator of your server, it’s equally important not to publicize the FQDN of your server. Once the spammers find your email address, incoming email can be just a big a problem as serving as an open mail relay.

To add a firewall rule in VitalPBX to support incoming SMTP mail traffic, log in to VitalPBX GUI as admin and navigate to Admin:Security:Firewall:Services. Add a new service with the following entries. Then click Save.

  • Name: Email
  • Protocol: TCP
  • Port: 25

Next, click on the Rules tab and add a new service entry for Email with Action: Accept. Then click Save again.

3. Configuring Postfix to Receive Inbound Email

Configuring Postfix to receive incoming email requires a few additions. If you changed the user account (smsuser) above, then do the same in steps #2 and #4 below.

1. Issue the following commands to update Postfix to support incoming email:

cd /etc/postfix
cp -p master.cf master.cf.bak
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/postfix-master.tar.gz
tar zxvf postfix-master.tar.gz
rm -f postfix-master.tar.gz
postconf -e "inet_interfaces = all"

2. Using the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) of your server, issue the following commands:

postconf -e "mydestination = your-FQDN, localhost.localdomain, localhost"
echo "smsuser:    smsuser@your-FQDN" >> /etc/aliases
systemctl restart postfix

3. Assuming you don’t mind discarding emails to the root user to avoid malicious spam attacks, enter the following commands. If you prefer to take your chances and preserve root email, omit the first line below:

echo "root:       /dev/null" >> /etc/aliases
echo "*:          /dev/null" >> /etc/aliases
newaliases

4. Test your new mail account by sending an email to smsuser@your-FQDN. Wait a bit and check for email: mail -u smsuser. Then delete the email: rm /var/spool/mail/smsuser/*

4a. Configuring Skyetel DID for SMS Email Relay

Effective 10/1/2023, $25/month minimum spend required.

1. In the VitalPBX GUI, navigate to Admin:Security:Firewall:WHITELIST and Add the IP address of the Skyetel SMTP server: 168.245.13.6.

2. Login to your Skyetel Portal and begin by deciphering your Username and Password for access to the Skyetel SMTP server in Tools:Voicemail Transcription.

3. While still in the Skyetel Portal, navigate to Phone Numbers:Local Numbers and click the Settings icon to the right of each DID you wish to enable for SMS messaging.

  a. Click on the SMS & MMS tab and fill in the template as shown below using the Email address you’ve assigned to VitalPBX for SMS messaging. Do NOT change the Subject and Body entries, and do NOT click SAVE at this time.

  b. Click on SMTP Settings at the bottom of the template. Fill in the SMTP template as shown below using the Username and Password you deciphered in Step #2 above. For the Sender, enter the email address to deliver SMS messages to your smartphone. For Default Recipient, enter the email address associated with your PBX.

  c. Finally, click the Save button in the SMTP Settings template and then Save again in the Email template.

  d. Repeat these steps for every DID to enable for delivery of SMS messages to VitalPBX.

4b. Configuring Vitelity DID for SMS Email Relay

With Vitelity DIDs, the first step is to order a DID that supports SMS, most do. Next, you need to decide whether this DID will be used for other purposes, such as serving as a trunk on your PBX for receipt of incoming calls. If you only want to use the DID to support SMS messaging, then there’s little reason to sign up for the unlimited calling plan. Instead, choose the pay-per-minute (PPM) plan for your DID. It costs $1.49 a month. Don’t even both registering the trunk which will save your having to pay for misdialed calls and spam. SMS messages are free.

Once your DID is set up, go to My Numbers -> Local in the Vitelity web portal and choose SMS from the Action pull-down menu of your new DID:

In the SMS dialog, set up a password for messaging, disable international messages, and enter the email forwarding address for your incoming SMS messages. Save your settings, and you’re good to go.

On the VitalPBX side, don’t forget to whitelist your Vitelity server’s IP address.

4c. Configuring VoIP.ms DID for SMS Email Relay

If you plan to dedicate a DID to SMS messaging, two advantages of the VoIP.ms offering are (1) the price ($0.85/month on the pay by the minute plan with $0.40 setup fee and (2) you can forward incoming SMS messages to another SMS number (such as your smartphone) in addition to an email address if you want to use the DID for traditional SMS messaging while also deploying our SMS Toolkit. As noted above, there’s no charge for SMS messages at this time although VoIP.ms has warned (for years) that they may begin charging a penny a message.

To get started, sign up for a VoIP.ms account and order a DID with SMS support. A cellphone is displayed beside each DID that supports SMS in their ordering page. As with Vitelity, there’s no need to register the trunk on your PBX if you only plan to use the SMS messaging component. Once your DID is provisioned, choose DID Numbers -> Manage DIDs in the VoIP.ms portal. Then edit the DID you just purchased. At the bottom of the form, fill in the SMS section as shown below:

On the VitalPBX side, don’t forget to whitelist your VoIP.ms POP’s IP address.

5. Installing and Configuring MailCall with VitalPBX

This version of MailCall was specifically designed for Incredible PBX for VitalPBX. Many of the MailCall features will not work until they are first configured on your server, e.g. Voice Dialing, Wolfram Alpha, and Voice SMS Messaging. All of the setups are covered in this VitalPBX tutorial.

After logging into your server as root, issue the following commands to install MailCall:

cd /
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/MailCall-VitalPBX.tar.gz
tar zxvf MailCall-VitalPBX.tar.gz
rm -f MailCall-VitalPBX.tar.gz
chown -R asterisk:asterisk /var/lib/asterisk
chown -R asterisk:asterisk /etc/asterisk

 

For a number of the queries, a 5-digit PIN is required for obvious reasons. This needs to be set in two places: (1) in two chunks of dialplan code (/tmp/sms-dialplan.txt) to be added and (2) at the top of the mailcall script itself (/root/mailcall). Just search for XXXXX and replace the five X’s with a 5-digit secure PIN in all three places. While editing the mailcall script, you’ll also need to whitelist the 10-digit or 11-digit phone numbers from which to accept calls in the AUTHORIZED field. Just separate each number with a space. Then issue the remainder of the commands below:

nano -w /tmp/sms-dialplan.txt
nano -w /root/mailcall
cat /tmp/sms-dialplan.txt >> /etc/asterisk/ombutel/extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "asterisk ALL = NOPASSWD: /usr/sbin/iptables" >> /etc/sudoers
echo "*/2 * * * * root /root/mailcall > /dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

 

As a security precaution, you can only use SMS Toolkit to forward and unforward calls to your cellphone from a PBX extension designated for your use. You can associate more than one cellphone with a given extension, but you can’t associate multiple extensions with a single cellphone. To set up the association between your cellphone and an extension on your PBX, issue the following command while logged in as root where 8431234567 is your cell phone number and 701 is the associated extension:

asterisk -rx "database put CELL 8431234567 701"

 

Sending an SMS message of @CF ON to your DID from 8431234567 will automatically forward extension 701 calls to your cell. Sending @CF OFF will disable forwarding to extension 701.

Finally, a few words about the SMS @whitelist command. It can be used in two ways. If you just text whitelist, then you will get a call back that first prompts for your PIN. You then will be prompted for the IP address to whitelist. Using your cellphone, enter the IP address using * for periods, e.g. 1*2*3*4 becomes 1.2.3.4. The alternative whitelist option doesn’t require a callback. Just send a text message with @whitelist PIN ip-address using periods, not *, e.g. @WHITELIST 98765 1.2.3.4 would whitelist 1.2.3.4 if your PIN was correctly entered as 98765 and matches the entry in /root/mailcall.

Email Addresses for SMS Smartphone Delivery

United States:

  • AT&T – number@txt.att.net
  • Verizon – number@vtext.com
  • Sprint – number@messaging.sprintpcs.com
  • T-Mobile – number@tmomail.net
  • Mint Mobile – number@tmomail.net
  • Virgin Mobile – number@vmobl.com
  • Tracfone – number@mmst5.tracfone.com
  • Ting – number@message.ting.com
  • Boost Mobile – number@myboostmobile.com
  • U.S. Cellular – number@email.uscc.net
  • Metro PCS – number@mymetropcs.com

Canada:

  • Rogers Wireless: number@pcs.rogers.com
  • Fido: number@fido.ca
  • Telus: number@msg.telus.com
  • Bell Mobility: number@txt.bell.ca
  • Kudo Mobile: number@msg.koodomobile.com
  • MTS: number@text.mtsmobility.com
  • President’s Choice: number@txt.bell.ca
  • Sasktel: number@sms.sasktel.com
  • Solo: number@txt.bell.ca
  • Virgin: number@vmobile.ca

Managing the AsteriDex SQLite3 Database

We’ve alluded to the AsteriDex database in a couple of VitalPBX articles but never mentioned how to access it. Using a browser, point it to http://server-ip/asteridex4. You can add, edit, display, and delete entries from there. Before you can make changes in the database, issue the following command after logging into your server as root:

chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

Published: Monday, November 18, 2018



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


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 



Skyetel SMS Smorgasbord for Incredible PBX with VitalPBX




Just in time for Thanksgiving, we’ve got a great treat for those of you that have taken advantage of the Nerd Vittles special offer from Skyetel which got you a $10 credit to kick the tires and up to $500 of half-price service on their quadruple-redundant VoIP platform. Effective 10/1/2023, $25/month minimum spend required. Today we’re adding not one, but three, SMS messaging utilities to the VitalPBX UC platform. In addition to a command line utility to send SMS messages, we’re also introducing SMS Message Blasting which lets you send an SMS message to as many recipients as you would like. It’s perfect for sports team and community group messaging. To round out the trifecta, we’ve updated our SMS Dictator utility by integrating Skyetel messaging with IBM’s powerful voice recognition software.1 Simply dial S-M-S (767) from any extension on your PBX and dictate an SMS message to send to a recipient of your choice. Gone are the days of wrestling with Google’s ever-changing voice recognition platform.

To get started, you’ll need to have an IBM Watson account with an APIkey for their Speech-to-Text (STT) engine. Next, you will need a Skyetel SMS-enabled DID. Before we install today’s SMS scripts, it should be noted that SMS messages must be sent from the PBX registered as the Skyetel Endpoint Group for the SMS-enabled DID specified in the Skyetel SMS scripts. So let’s begin with the configuration steps to put all the pieces in place.

Getting Started with IBM Watson STT Service

We’ve created a separate tutorial to walk you through obtaining and configuring your IBM Watson credentials. Start there.

Now let’s get IBM’s Speech to Text service activated. Log back in to the IBM Cloud. Click on the (upper left) Menu icon and select Dashboard. Click on the Speech to Text app. Choose a Region to deploy in, choose your Organization from the pull-down menu, and select STT as your Space. Choose the Standard Pricing Plan or LITE Plan. Then click Create. When Speech to Text Portal opens, click the Service Credentials tab. In the Actions column, click View Credentials and copy down your STT APIkey. Then logout of IBM Watson.

Getting Started with Skyetel Messaging

If you haven’t already signed up for a Skyetel account, read our tutorial and take advantage of the $10 coupon for free service. Sign up for a DID and activate the SMS feature for your number. Create an Endpoint Group with the public IP address of your PBX. Then edit your phone number and link it to the Endpoint Group of your server. If you want to forward incoming SMS messages to either an email address or to your smartphone’s messaging service, configure it under the SMS & MMS tab for each of your phone numbers. Finally, click on the settings icon beside your account name in the upper right corner of the Skyetel portal and then click the API Keys tab. Click the Create button and copy down your SID and SECRET for Skyetel’s API service. This secret is not retrievable once you close the window so put the credentials in a safe place for subsequent use. Once you’re happy with the Skyetel service, fund your account with up to $250 and open a ticket with Skyetel. They’ll match your deposit and also let you port any DIDs you’d like at no cost for 60 days. For now, logout of the Skyetel portal.

Installing the SMS Components on Your PBX

There are three separate applications which we will install in VitalPBX: (1) a stand-alone utility that lets you send SMS messages from the Linux CLI by entering a recipients 11-digit phone number and an SMS message surrounded by quotes, (2) an SMS message blasting utility that lets you send a previously prepared SMS message to a group of recipients whose 11-digit SMS numbers have been entered into a text file, and (3) the SMS Dictator application which lets you pick up any phone on your PBX and dial S-M-S (767) to dictate a message and send it to a recipient whose number you’ve keyed in from your phone. For those not residing in North America, the number of phone number digits can easily be changed in all of the scripts. After we install the three applications, we’ll edit each of the scripts to insert your IBM STT and Skyetel API credentials. Then you’re ready to start messaging.

First, let’s install the stand-alone and message blasting SMS utilities. Log into your server as root and issue the following commands:

cd /root
mkdir sms-skyetel
cd sms-skyetel
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/smsblast-skyetel.tgz
tar zxvf smsblast-skyetel.tgz
rm -f smsblast-skyetel.tgz

Next, let’s install the SMS Dictator application while still logged into your server:

cd /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sms-767-vitalpbx.tgz
tar zxvf sms-767-vitalpbx.tgz
rm -f sms-767-vitalpbx.tgz
./install-sms-dictator.sh

Configuring the Skyetel SMS Components

The last step of the SMS Dictator install script will prompt you to edit smsgen.sh. Leave apikey as your API_USERNAME and insert your actual IBM STT APIkey as API_PASSWORD in the fields provided. Insert your Skyetel SID, SECRET, and 11-digit DID in the fields provided. Then save the file: Ctrl-X, Y, then ENTER.

Next, change directories to /root/sms-skyetel and edit BOTH sms-skyetel and smsblast and insert your Skyetel credentials and DID in the fields provided at the top of both files.

Finally, when you’re ready to use the message blasting application (smsblast), first insert your SMS message in the smsmsg.txt file. Then insert the list of SMS numbers in smslist.txt.

Installing Festival TTS with VitalPBX

If you have not already installed the Festival TTS engine, you’ll need it to use SMS Dictator. Here’s how to install it:

yum -y install festival
echo "[general]" > /etc/asterisk/festival.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"
festival_server &
systemctl restart asterisk
echo "/usr/bin/festival_server &" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local

Testing the Skyetel SMS Components

To try out the SMS Dictator application, dial S-M-S (767) from a phone connected to your PBX. When prompted, enter the 11-digit number of the SMS recipient. When prompted, dictate the message to be sent and press #.

To try out the stand-alone SMS application, navigate to /root/sms-skyetel and issue the following command using the 11-digit number of the SMS recipient followed by a space and an SMS message to be sent surrounded by quotes: ./sms-skyetel 18005551212 "Howdy."

To try out the message blasting SMS application, navigate to /root/sms-skyetel. Enter the message to be sent in smsmsg.txt and enter the list of SMS numbers in smslist.txt. Kick off the message blast by entering the command: ./smsblast.

Originally published: Monday, November 11, 2019


Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a difficult place to address 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 Forum. 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, the PIAF Forum 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 VoIP-info Forum.


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 



  1. Skyetel outbound SMS messages are billed at 1¢/message plus a monthly SMS surcharge of 10¢ per SMS-enabled DID. With IBM’s STT service, users have a choice of the LITE tier providing 100 minutes a month of free transcription or the STANDARD tier providing unlimited message transcription at a cost of 2¢/minute. []

Adding CallerID Names to VitalPBX Inbound & Outbound Calls


In the early days of Asterisk®, it was not unlike the Wild West. Extension passwords of 1234 were pretty safe, and "anything goes" was the only rule when it came to scraping other folks’ web sites for data that you needed. And the master scraper of them all, Google, even had a phone: function (until they didn’t) that let you look up almost anyone’s name or telephone number. Ma Bell pretty much had a monopoly on CallerID Name (CNAM) data for phone numbers which is probably the reason the Google feature suddenly disappeared. Since the telecom industry universally discarded CNAM data when routing calls to destinations, it was up to the DID provider to look up the associated names out of their proprietary databases before connecting the call. Ma Bell called it a feature. It was more like a revenue generator.

For VoIP users, there were no CNAM services to speak of. Thus was born our CallerID Trifecta and later CallerID Superfecta projects more than a decade ago. Superfecta was later elevated to the stratosphere by some of the early FreePBX® pioneers including Lorne Gaetz and Andrew Nagy. The real beauty of CallerID Superfecta was the ability to search a cache for a CNAM match before scouring and scraping the web, a process which took a lot more time.

Much has changed in the last 10 years. One of the early lessons in CNAM lookups obtained by scraping web sites was that most of the site owners didn’t appreciate their newfound popularity. As a result, they continually modified their sites to discourage scraping, and this in turn regularly broke CallerID Superfecta. The other major change is that there now are multiple CNAM services for VoIP users. Almost all VoIP providers also include a CNAM lookup option, and there are dirt-cheap standalone services such as OpenCNAM and BulkCNAM.

In introducing CallerID Superfecta to the VitalPBX community, we wanted to take advantage of what we’ve learned as well as the new CNAM landscape. There still are limitations. All of the CNAM lookup services don’t mind charging you to return a CNAM result of Los Angeles, CA which you could have deciphered by simply examining the area code of the incoming call. And, if your girlfriend calls you twenty times a day, the CNAM services are more than happy to charge you for the same CNAM dip twenty times. And at least one VoIP provider charges for CNAM lookups whether you want them or not. That adds another half a cent to the cost of every incoming call. Most providers charge between $.002 (new BulkCNAM rate) and $.005 per dip1 so the charges can add up particularly with a lot of calls of short duration.

We previously mentioned using VitalPBX’s native OpenCNAM functionality to add CallerID Names to incoming calls. But there are three possible concerns with this approach. First, there’s the frequently calling girlfriend issue. Depending upon how much you like your girlfriend, that may or may not be acceptable. A second issue is the CNAM dips that only return the city and state of the call. For frequent callers, you obviously would like actual names associated with these callers. And a third issue is the absence of CNAM data in your CDR logs and on your SIP phone for outbound calls.

In considering a modern CallerID Superfecta design, we’ve concluded that you really only need three components. First, you need to examine whether an actual name was passed with the incoming call. Second, you need to check whether your local database already has a CNAM entry for the caller. And, third, if those two sources don’t bear fruit, you need a lookup from a stand-alone CNAM provider. We believe the prudent design for the local component is to consolidate all available CNAM information into a single local CNAM database with import tools from other servers for apps such as the Asterisk Phonebook, AsteriDex, and Google Contacts. The local Asterisk Phonebook included in AstDB’s SQLite3 database is perfectly suited to serve as a local CNAM repository.

Legal Disclaimer: Most CNAM providers have restrictions regarding caching of CNAM data. The courts consistently have ruled that phonebook data is not copyrightable. And every PBX caches CNAM data. After all, that’s what CDR logs are all about. Consult with your own attorney if you have concerns, or simply stop reading here. 🙂

Now that VitalPBX has included unlimited Custom Contexts at no cost, our tasks today are easy. The plan of attack goes like this. When an incoming call hits your PBX, we’ll check whether a CallerID name accompanied the call. Next, we’ll check the Asterisk Phonebook to see if we have a name associated with that phone number. If there’s no CNAM entry after checking both sources, then we’ll perform an OpenCNAM lookup using your credentials. For outgoing calls, we’ll check the Asterisk Phonebook for a CNAM match on the number being called and, if there is no match, we’ll perform an OpenCNAM lookup using your credentials. You have the option of using either, both, or neither of these CNAM scripts.

Before we get started, it’s worth noting that finding a "hook" for outbound calls was not a simple task with VitalPBX. The trick was to find a subroutine that could be replaced without damaging the native functionality of the PBX. We finally found a spot, but we were limited to just two lines of code. The solution was to use one of those lines to execute a separate subroutine which had no restrictions on size. So let’s get started.

As with FreePBX, a config file is used to manage custom contexts. With VitalPBX, extensions__80-custom.conf in /etc/asterisk/ombutel is the file you need. If it doesn’t exist, simply create it. This file has two parts which again are similar to the FreePBX design. The [cos-all-custom](+) context is used for extension code in exactly the same way that the [from-internal-custom] context is used in FreePBX. In addition to extension dialplan code, you also can embed additional contexts just as you could with FreePBX. If you’ve installed Incredible PBX for VitalPBX, then you already have a number of extension components in the [cos-all-custom](+) context. So we’ll be adding some additional contexts at the bottom of the file. If you don’t already have an extensions__80-custom.conf file, create it and add [cos-all-custom](+) as the first line in the file. All of today’s code is licensed for your use pursuant to the terms of the GPLv2 license available here.

Adding CallerID Superfecta for Incoming Calls

Log into your server as root and navigate to /etc/asterisk/ombutel. Edit extensions__80-custom.conf and cut-and-paste the following code to the bottom of the file. Be sure to insert your actual OpenCNAM credentials in the SID and TOKEN entries near the top of the code replacing xxxx and yyyy.

;# // BEGIN CallerID Superfecta
[superfecta]
exten => s,1,NoOp(Executing CID Superfecta)

; insert OpenCNAM credentials below
  same => n,Set(SID=xxxx)
  same => n,Set(TOKEN=yyyy)

  same => n,NoOp(CID Number: ${CALL_SOURCE})
  same => n,Set(CID_NAME=${CALLERID(name)})
  same => n,NoOp(AstDB lookup underway)
  same => n,Set(CID_NAME2=${DB(cidname/${CALL_SOURCE})})
  same => n,GotoIf($["foo${CID_NAME2}" = "foo"]?runOpenCNAM:skipOpenCNAM)
  same => n(runOpenCNAM),NoOp(OpenCNAM lookup underway)
  same => n,Set(DB(cidname/${CALL_SOURCE})=${CID_NAME})
  same => n,Set(CID_NAME3=${SHELL(curl https://${SID}:${TOKEN}@api.opencnam.com/v2/phone/${CALL_SOURCE}?format=pbx)})
; for BulkCNAM, comment out line above and uncomment line below after inserting your APIkey
; same => n,Set(CID_NAME3=${SHELL(curl -X GET "https://cnam.bulkCNAM.com/?id=APIkey&did=${CALL_SOURCE}")})
  same => n,GotoIf($["foo${CID_NAME3}" = "foo"]?skipBOTH
  same => n,Set(DB(cidname/${CALL_SOURCE})=${CID_NAME3})
  same => n,Set(CALLERID(name)=${CID_NAME3})
  same => n,Goto(skipBOTH)
  same => n(skipOpenCNAM),Set(CALLERID(name)=${CID_NAME2})
  same => n(skipBOTH),Set(ICALL=yes)
  same => n,Answer

;  same => n,Wait(2)
;; requires addition of nv-GenericWelcome.ulaw in /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/custom
;  same => n,Background(custom/nv-GenericWelcome&silence/1&continue-in-english&press-7,nm)
;  same => n,WaitExten(.)
;; exten => 7,1,Goto(cos-all,701,1)
;; exten => 7,1,Goto(cos-all-trunk,8436060555,1)
;; exten => 7,1,Goto(newcontext,s,1)
;  exten => 7,1,Goto(incrediblepbx,s,1)
;  same => n,Return()
; exten => t,1,Hangup
;  same => n,Return()
; exten => i,1,Hangup
;  same => n,Return()

; same => n,Goto(cos-all,701,1)
; same => n,Goto(cos-all-trunk,8436060555,1)
; same => n,Goto(newcontext,s,1)
; same => n,ExecIf($["${DID}" = "8436060555"]?Goto(incrediblepbx,s,1))
  same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,s,1)
  same => n(return),Return()
;# // END CallerID Superfecta

Replacing OpenCNAM with BulkCNAM for Queries

With the recent price drop, you may prefer to use BulkVS.com for your CNAM queries. You’ll need to obtain your APIkey from their portal in API:API Credentials. Then locate the Set(CID_NAME3… line in the script above and replace it with the following line using your actual APIkey:

same => n,Set(CID_NAME3=${SHELL(curl -X GET "https://cnam.bulkCNAM.com/?id=APIkey&did=${CALL_SOURCE}")})

Choosing a Destination for Incoming Calls

We want to spend a minute on the last several lines of the Superfecta dialplan code:

; same => n,Goto(cos-all,701,1)
; same => n,Goto(cos-all-trunk,8436060555,1)
; same => n,Goto(newcontext,s,1)
  same => n,ExecIf($["${DID}" = "8436060555"]?Goto(cos-all,701,1))
  same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,s,1)

 
These five lines demonstrate how to redirect incoming calls to five different destinations: an extension, an external phone number, another custom context, a DID-specific routing, or the Incredible PBX Demo IVR. As shown, the calls would be routed to the default Demo IVR unless the DID matches 8436060555 in which case the call would be routed to extension 701. You can modify the destination scenario simply by uncommenting a different line in the dialplan examples. Keep in mind that a Goto command permanently redirects calls to that destination outside the Custom Context so the first uncommented Goto line will always take precedence. Also note that you can have multiple ExecIf lines preceding a Goto line to route calls to different destinations depending upon the DID of the incoming call. Stated another way, multiple ExecIf commands can be followed by a Goto command that serves as the default destination for any non-matching DIDs. You could also redirect by CallerID number.

Blocking Telemarketers with CallerID Superfecta

As election season heats up in the United States, be advised that your favorite legislators have exempted themselves from the robocall rules so dinnertime will get more interesting in coming months. One simple solution is to prompt the caller to enter a number before actually connecting the call. This kills most robocalls. We’ve included the code to do this in CallerID Superfecta. Just uncomment the code so that it looks like the following after choosing a call destination as documented in the previous section:

  same => n,Wait(2)
; requires addition of nv-GenericWelcome.ulaw in /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/custom
  same => n,Background(custom/nv-GenericWelcome&silence/1&continue-in-english&press-7,nm)
  same => n,WaitExten(.)
; exten => 7,1,Goto(cos-all,701,1)
; exten => 7,1,Goto(cos-all-trunk,8436060555,1)
; exten => 7,1,Goto(newcontext,s,1)
  exten => 7,1,Goto(incrediblepbx,s,1)
  same => n,Return()
 exten => t,1,Hangup
  same => n,Return()
 exten => i,1,Hangup
  same => n,Return()

 
Before this will work, you’ll need to download the nv-GenericWelcome.ulaw recording:

cd /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/custom
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/nv-GenericWelcome.ulaw

Adding CallerID Superfecta for Outgoing Calls

If CNAM data for outgoing calls is also desired for your CDR logs, here’s the dialplan code to cut-and-paste into the bottom of the Custom Contexts file. Insert your OpenCNAM credentials in the code replacing xxxx and yyyy just as you did in the previous section:

[cos-all-custom]
exten => _.,1,NoOp(*** Custom Outbound CNAM Code ***))
    same => n,GoSub(cnam-out,s,1)

[cnam-out]
exten => s,1,NoOp(*** Outbound CNAM context for Incredible PBX ***)
  same => n,Set(SID=xxxx)
  same => n,Set(TOKEN=yyyy)
  same => n,NoOp(Calling: ${EXTENSION})
  same => n,Set(CID_NUM=${EXTENSION})
  same => n,NoOp(AstDB lookup underway)
  same => n,Set(CID_NAME=${DB(cidname/${CID_NUM})})
  same => n,GotoIf($["foo${CID_NAME}" = "foo"]?runOpenCNAM:skipOpenCNAM)
  same => n(runOpenCNAM),NoOp(OpenCNAM lookup underway)
  same => n,Set(CID_NAME=${SHELL(curl https://${SID}:${TOKEN}@api.opencnam.com/v2/phone/${CID_NUM}?format=pbx)})
; for BulkCNAM, comment out line above and uncomment line below after inserting your APIkey
;  same => n,Set(CID_NAME=${SHELL(curl -X GET "https://cnam.bulkCNAM.com/?id=APIkey&did=${CID_NUM}")})
  same => n,Set(DB(cidname/${CID_NUM})=${CID_NAME})
  same => n(skipOpenCNAM),Set(CDR(customer_code)=${CID_NAME})
  same => n,Set(ICALL=yes)
  same => n,NoOp(*** Outbound CNAM context ends here ***)
  same => n,Return()

Activating CallerID Superfecta with VitalPBX

As with any dialplan changes, you first must reload the dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload". Next, we need to create a Custom Context within the VitalPBX GUI and point any desired Inbound Routes to that custom context. Using a web browser, log in to the VitalPBX GUI as admin. Navigate to PBX:Applications:Custom Contexts and create a new custom context for CallerID Superfecta:

Description: CID Superfecta
Context: superfecta
Extension: s
Priority: 1
Destination: Terminate Call -> Hangup

Next, identify the Trunks that you want to use with CallerID Superfecta and create an Inbound Route for those trunks pointing to CallerID Superfecta as the Destination for those calls.

If you want different destinations within CallerID Superfecta context for different trunks, then you’ll need to use ExecIf commands as shown in the dialplan to identify each trunk and to route the calls to the desired locations. Note that you can have multiple ExecIf commands followed by an uncommented default destination for any incoming calls that do not have a DID match.

Importing Asterisk Phonebook Data from Another PBX

To supplement your local Asterisk Phonebook which will serve as the local CNAM repository for VitalPBX, you can easily import data from other sources. And, as those sources change, you can export the entire database again and repeat the import procedure without worrying about duplicating data in your local Asterisk Phonebook. Imported data always overwrites existing entries which have a match on the phone number. To import an Asterisk Phonebook from another PBX, here are the steps to run on that PBX to create the import script which should be copied and run on the VitalPBX platform: import-asterisk-phonebook.sh

CAUTION: Carefully review the generated import script for anomalies before running it.

cd /var/lib/asterisk
sqlite3 astdb.sqlite3 "select key,value from astdb \\
 where key LIKE '%cidname/%'" > /root/import.sh
cd /root
sed -i 's|/cidname|asterisk -rx "database put cidname "|' import.sh
sed -i 's| "/| |' import.sh
sed -i 's|\\|| "|' import.sh
sed -i 's|$|"|' import.sh
sed -i "s|\"d|'d|" import.sh
sed -i "s|$|'|" import.sh
chmod +x import.sh
mv import.sh import-asterisk-phonebook.sh

Importing AsteriDex Data from Another PBX

Here are the steps to export existing AsteriDex data from another Incredible PBX platform. Once the steps have been completed, copy import-asteridex.sh to VitalPBX, make the script executable, and run it.

mysql -u root -ppassw0rd asteridex -N -s -e 'select "*",`out`,`name` from user1' | \\
 sed 's|\\t|, |g' > tmp.txt
sed -i "s|*,|asterisk -rx 'database put|" tmp.txt
sed -i 's|, | "|' tmp.txt
sed -i 's|$|"|' tmp.txt
sed -i "s|$|'|" tmp.txt
mv tmp.txt import-asteridex.sh

Importing Google Contacts into Asterisk Phonebook

Here are the steps to import existing Google Contacts into the VitalPBX Asterisk Phonebook:

  1. From within Google Contacts, export your contacts into a vcard format file: contacts.vcf
  2. Copy the contacts.vcf file to the /root folder of your PBX
  3. wget http://incrediblepbx.com/googlecontacts-importer.tar.gz
  4. tar zxvf googlecontacts-importer.tar.gz
  5. rm -f googlecontacts-importer.tar.gz
  6. Run the main script: /root/vcard-import.sh
  7. Edit the shell script that is generated: nano -w import-google-contacts.sh
  8. Make any changes to clean up the entries from Google Contacts
  9. chmod +x /root/import-google-contacts.sh
  10. Run the script to import your Google Contacts: /root/import-google-contacts.sh

Managing the Asterisk Phonebook with VitalPBX

To add or replace entries in the Asterisk Phonebook from the Linux CLI, here’s the syntax:

asterisk -rx 'database put cidname 8005551212 "Directory Assistance"' 

To remove an entry from the Asterisk Phonebook, the syntax looks like this:

asterisk -rx "database del cidname 8005551212"

To display all entries in your Asterisk Phonebook, issue the following command:

asterisk -rx "database show cidname"

 
Originally published: Monday, November 4, 2019



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


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 



  1. BulkCNAM previously charged $.005 per CNAM dip but recently sent out an email indicating they were dropping the rate to $.002. Our CNAM charges continued to be billed at $.005 with the daily charges being rounded up to the whole penny. So… you may want to check your CNAM charges for a bit to verify that you are being billed at the new rate. If not, open a ticket and they will correct it. []

Meet Incredible PBX 16 with VitalPBX for VirtualBox




If you’re new to the VoIP world and want to kick the tires to see what you’re missing, then today’s one minute setup is for you. You’ll get a $10 credit to try out some penny-a-minute calls and to purchase a $1 a month phone number in your choice of area codes. If you decide VoIP is not for you, you don’t have to buy anything ever. And you can use almost any desktop computer you already own to bring up the VirtualBox® edition of Incredible PBX® 16 with VitalPBX 2.3.8.

If you’ve followed Nerd Vittles over the years, you already know that VirtualBox from Oracle® is one of our favorite platforms. Once VirtualBox is installed on your desktop computer, adding Incredible PBX is a snap. Download the latest Incredible PBX .ova image from SourceForge, double-click on the downloaded image, check the initialize MAC address box, and boom. Instant PBX! In less than a minute, your PBX will be ready to use. Just sign up for an account with our Platinum provider, Skyetel, and you can start making free calls. Of course, the Incredible PBX feature set is included and VitalPBX is preconfigured to introduce you to a truly revolutionary communications platform. Speech-to-text, voice recognition, and a Siri-like telephony interface are as close as your SIP phone.

Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle’s virtual machine platform inherited from Sun is amazing. It’s not only free, but it’s pure GPL2 code. VirtualBox gives you a virtual machine platform that runs on top of any desktop operating system. In terms of limitations, we haven’t found any. We even tested this on an Atom-based Windows 7 machine with 2GB of RAM, and it worked without a hiccup. So step #1 today is to download one or more of the VirtualBox installers from VirtualBox.org or Oracle.com. Our recommendation is to put all of the 100MB installers on a 4GB thumb drive.1 Then you’ll have everything in one place whenever and wherever you happen to need it. Once you’ve downloaded the software, simply install it onto your favorite desktop machine. Accept all of the default settings, and you’ll be good to go. For more details, here’s a link to the Oracle VM VirtualBox User Manual.

Installing Incredible PBX 16 with VitalPBX 2.3.8

To begin, download the Incredible PBX 16 .ova image (1.1 GB) onto your desktop.

Next, double-click on the Incredible PBX .ova image on your desktop. Be sure to check the box to initialize the MAC address of the image and then click Import. Once the import is finished, you’ll see a new Incredible PBX virtual machine in the VM List of the VirtualBox Manager Window. Let’s make a couple of one-time adjustments to the Incredible PBX configuration to account for possible differences in sound and network cards on different host machines.

(1) Click once on the Incredible PBX virtual machine in the VM List. Then (2) click the Settings button. In the Audio tab, check the Enable Audio option and choose your sound card. In the Network tab for Adapter 1, check the Enable Network Adapter option. From the Attached to pull-down menu, choose Bridged Adapter. Then select your network card from the Name list. Then click OK. That’s all the configuration that is necessary for Incredible PBX.

Running Incredible PBX 16 with VitalPBX in VirtualBox

Once you’ve imported and configured the Incredible PBX Virtual Machine, you’re ready to go. Highlight the Incredible PBX virtual machine in the VM List on the VirtualBox Manager Window and click the Start button. The standard Linux boot procedure will begin and, within a few seconds, you’ll get the familiar Linux login prompt. During the bootstrap procedure, you’ll see a couple of dialogue boxes pop up that explain the keystrokes to move back and forth between your host operating system desktop and your virtual machine. Remember, you still have full access to your desktop computer. Incredible PBX is merely running as a task in a VM window. Always gracefully halt Incredible PBX just as you would on any computer.

Here’s what you need to know. To work in the Incredible PBX virtual machine, just left-click your mouse while it is positioned inside the VM window. To return to your host operating system desktop, press the right Option key on Windows machines or the left Command key on any Mac. For other operating systems, read the dialogue boxes for instructions on moving around. To access the Linux CLI, login as root with the default password: password. Change your root password immediately by typing: passwd. Make note of the IP address of your PBX. Then point your favorite browser to the IP address. Update your admin password for web access when prompted. Register your PBX with the VitalPBX folks, and you’re ready to go. You’ll need this admin password each time you access the web GUI to manage your PBX.

Should you ever forget your admin password, log into your server as root and issue the following command to reset it. The next time you access the GUI with a browser, you’ll be prompted to create a new admin password.

mysql ombutel -e 'update ombu_settings set value = "yes" where name = "reset_pwd"'

Setting the Date and Time with VirtualBox

On some platforms, VirtualBox has a nasty habit of mangling the date and time of your virtual machine. Typing date will tell you whether your VM is affected. If it’s a problem, manually set the date and time and then update the hardware clock. Here’s how assuming 08130709 is the month, day, and correct time of your server:

date 08130709
clock -w

BUG FIXES: Only two bugs to report and that’s an inaccurate display of available disk space in the pbxstatus utility (shown above) and a permissions issue that prevented writing data to AsteriDex. Here are the fixes:

sed -i 's| /"|/centos"|' /usr/local/sbin/pbxstatus
chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

Configuring Skyetel for Incredible PBX 16

If you’d like to try out the Skyetel service at no charge, here’s the drill. Sign up for Skyetel service to take advantage of the Nerd Vittles specials. First, complete the Prequalification Form here. You then will be provided a link to the Skyetel site to complete your registration. Once you have registered on the Skyetel site and your account has been activated, open a support ticket and request the $10 credit for your account by referencing the Nerd Vittles special offer. Once you are satisfied with the service, fund your account as desired, and Skyetel will match your deposit of up to $250 simply by opening another ticket. That gets you up to $500 of half-price calling. Credit is limited to one per person, company, and address. Effective 10/1/2023, $25/month minimum spend required.

Skyetel does not use SIP registrations to make connections to your PBX. Instead, Skyetel utilizes Endpoint Groups to identify which servers can communicate with the Skyetel service. An Endpoint Group consists of a Name, an IP address, a UDP or TCP port for the connection, and a numerical Priority for the group. For incoming calls destined to your PBX, DIDs are associated with an Endpoint Group to route the calls to your PBX. For outgoing calls from your PBX, a matching Endpoint Group is required to authorize outbound calls through the Skyetel network. Thus, the first step in configuring the Skyetel side for use with your PBX is to set up an Endpoint Group. Here’s a typical setup for Incredible PBX 16-15:

  • Name: MyPBX
  • Priority: 1
  • IP Address: PBX-Public-IP-Address
  • Port: 5060
  • Protocol: UDP
  • Description: my.incrediblepbx.com

To receive incoming PSTN calls, you’ll need at least one DID. On the Skyetel site, you acquire DIDs under the Phone Numbers tab. You have the option of Porting in Existing Numbers (free for the first 60 days after you sign up for service) or purchasing new ones under the Buy Phone Numbers menu option.

Once you have acquired one or more DIDs, navigate to the Local Numbers or Toll Free Numbers tab and specify the desired SIP Format and Endpoint Group for each DID. Add SMS/MMS and E911 support, if desired. Call Forwarding and Failover are also supported. That completes the VoIP setup on the Skyetel side.

Incredible PBX already is configured to connect with Skyetel. However, for security, your virtual machine should be running behind a router or firewall. That means you will have to redirect the Skyetel SIP traffic to the private IP address of your PBX. In your router, reserve the assigned DHCP private LAN address of your PBX so that it will not change. Then map incoming SIP and RTP traffic (TCP/UDP 5060-5080 and UDP 10000-20000) to the private LAN address of your PBX.

Configuring Incredible PBX 16 for VirtualBox

There are 10 Quick Steps to Customize Incredible PBX for your environment. Here’s how.

1. In the web GUI, navigate to PBX:Extensions:Extensions. Click the Extensions Options bar and choose 701. Reset your extension 701 Password and enter your Email Address. In the Voicemail tab, you can either leave the default voicemail password as 701 which means you’ll be prompted to set a new one the first time you access 701 voicemail, OR you can set one while you’re here. Click Save and then Reload Dialplan when you’re finished.

2. Before your PBX can receive calls, you’ll need at least one Inbound Route. This tells the PBX how to route calls from one or more phone numbers (DIDs) that you own to a destination on your PBX, e.g. an extension, a ring group, an IVR, or custom context. We’ve preconfigured a Default route which directs all incoming calls to the Demo IVR. To change it, navigate to PBX:External:Inbound Routes and choose the Default route from the Options bar. If you’d prefer that incoming calls be routed to extension 701, simply change the Inbound Destination. Then SAVE and Reload Dialplan.

3. Outbound email functionality is essential on your PBX. The easiest solution is to configure PostFix as an SMTP Relay using a Gmail account. You can do this easily from within the VitalPBX GUI. Navigate to Admin:System Settings:Email Settings and click the External Mail Server tab. Be sure that Gmail is selected and enter your Gmail name and password in the fields provided. Save your settings and send yourself an email using the field provided.

4. In order to take advantage of all the Incredible PBX applications, you’ll need to obtain IBM text-to-speech (TTS) and speech-to-text (STT) credentials. This Nerd Vittles tutorial will walk you through getting your IBM account set up and obtaining both your TTS and STT credentials. Be sure to write down BOTH sets of credentials which you’ll need in a minute. For home and SOHO use, IBM access and services are mostly FREE even though you must provide a credit card when signing up. The IBM signup process explains their pricing plans.

5. If you only wish to receive recorded voicemails by email, you can skip this step. Once you have obtained IBM TTS and STT passwords, here’s how to set up Voicemail Transcription with Email Message Delivery:

  a. After logging into your VitalPBX server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /tmp
mkdir sendmail
cd sendmail
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
mv usr/sbin/sendmailibm /usr/sbin
cd /etc/asterisk/ombutel
echo "[general](+)" > voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf 
echo "; format=wav|wav49|gsm" >> voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
echo "mailcmd=/usr/sbin/sendmailibm" >> voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
chown apache:apache voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
rm -rf /tmp/sendmail

 
  b. Restart Asterisk core services: asterisk -rx "core reload"

  c. Edit /usr/sbin/sendmailibm and insert your IBM Watson STT APIkey on line 23. Change the language on line 31 if you don’t want en-US. Then save the file.

  d. Log back into the VitalPBX GUI and configure the extensions desired for email delivery of voicemail. For each extension in PBX:Extensions:General, enter an Email Address for delivery of voicemails. In PBX:Extensions:Voicemail, verify the VM settings from step #20.

6. Associating CallerID Names (CNAM) with inbound calls for display on SIP phones and in the CDR logs is an often-requested PBX feature. There are a few ways to do it. First, for less than a penny a call, you can activate the feature with your DIDs in the Skyetel Dashboard. Or, for about half the cost, you can acquire an OpenCNAM account and activate it in VitalPBX by navigating to PBX:Incoming Calls:CID Lookup. Choose OpenCNAM as the Source and enter your credentials. Then SAVE your settings and reload the dialplan. Then, for each of your Inbound Routes, add OpenCNAM as the CID Lookup source and Update your configuration.

7. To use Wolfram Alpha, sign up for a free Wolfram Alpha API account. Just provide your email address and set up a password. It takes less than a minute. Log into your account and click on Get An App ID. Make up a name for your application and write down (and keep secret) your APP-ID code. That’s all there is to getting set up with Wolfram Alpha. If you want to explore costs for commercial use, there are links to let you get more information.

8. In addition to your Wolfram Alpha APPID, there are two sets of IBM credentials to plug into the Asterisk AGI scripts. Keep in mind that there are different usernames and passwords for the IBM Watson TTS and STT services. The TTS credentials will look like the following: $IBM_username and $IBM_password. The STT credentials look like this: $API_USERNAME and $API_PASSWORD. Don’t mix them up. 🙂

All of the scripts requiring credentials are located in /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin so switch to that directory after logging into your server as root. Edit each of the following files and insert your TTS credentials in the variables already provided: nv-today2.php, ibmtts.php, and ibmtts2.php. Edit each of the following files and insert your STT credentials in the variables already provided: getquery.sh, getnumber.sh, and getnumber2.sh. Finally, edit 4747 and insert your Wolfram Alpha APPID.

9. Before you do anything else, navigate to Admin:Admin:Backup & Restore, configure and run a Full Backup, and then download the file and keep it in a safe place. Be advised that Backup/Restore doesn’t restore Add-Ons, /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin, custom contexts (extensions__80*.conf) in /etc/asterisk/ombutel, custom MySQL databases (mysqldump -u root yourDB > yourDB.sql), custom and lenny sound directories in /var/lib/asterisk/sounds, phpMyAdmin, /usr/local/sbin, and /etc/crontab.

10. AsteriDex is a web-based dialer and address book application for Asterisk and Incredible PBX. It lets you store and manage phone numbers of all your friends and business associates in an easy-to-use SQLite3 database. You simply call up the application with your favorite web browser: http://pbx-ip-address/asteridex4/. When you click on a contact that you wish to call, AsteriDex first calls you at extension 701, and then AsteriDex connects you to your contact through another outbound call made using your default outbound trunk that supports numbers in the 1NXXNXXXXXX format.

Configuring a Softphone for Incredible PBX

We’re in the home stretch now. You can connect virtually any kind of telephone to your new PBX. Plain Old Phones require an analog telephone adapter (ATA) which can be a separate board in your computer from a company such as Digium. Or it can be a standalone SIP device such as ObiHai’s OBi100 or OBi110 (if you have a phone line from Ma Bell to hook up as well). SIP phones can be connected directly so long as they have an IP address. These could be hardware devices or software devices. We’ll start with some free ones today so you can begin making calls. You can find dozens of recommendations for hardware-based SIP phones both on Nerd Vittles and the PIAF Forum when you’re ready to get serious about VoIP telephony.

For Windows, iOS, and Android platforms, we recommend the free VitalPBX Communicator.

For the Mac platform, we recommend the free Telephone app available in the App Store.

Managing the AsteriDex SQLite3 Database

We’ve alluded to the AsteriDex database in a couple of VitalPBX articles but never mentioned how to access it. Using a browser, point it to http://server-ip/asteridex4. You can add, edit, display, and delete entries from there. Before you can make changes in the database, issue the following command after logging into your server as root:

chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

Taking Incredible PBX for a Test Drive

You can take Incredible PBX for VitalPBX on a test drive in two ways. You can call our server, and then you can try things out on your own server and compare the results. Call our IVR by dialing 1-843-606-0555. For our international friends, you can use the following SIP URI for a free call: 10159591015959@atlanta.voip.ms. For tips on setting up your own secure, hybrid SIP URI with VitalPBX, see our original tutorial. The FreePBX® setup is virtually identical except for the location of the custom SIP setting for match_auth_username=yes. On a VitalPBX server, you will enter it here: Settings:Technology Settings:SIP Settings:CUSTOM.

With Allison’s Demo IVR, you can choose from the following options:

  • 0. Chat with Operator — connects to extension 701
  • 1. AsteriDex Voice Dialer (412) – say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines" to connect
  • 2. Conferencing (2663) – log in using 1234 as the conference PIN
  • 3. Wolfram Alpha Almanac (4747) – say "What planes are flying overhead now?"
  • 4. Lenny (53669) – The Telemarketer’s Worst Nightmare
  • 5. Today’s News Headlines (951) — courtesy of Yahoo! News
  • 6. Weather by ZIP Code (947) – enter any 5-digit ZIP code for today’s weather
  • 7. Today in History (86329) — courtesy of OnThisDay.com
  • 8. Call Extension 701 — on your local PBX
  • 9. DISA Voice Dialer (3172) — say any 10-digit number to be connected
  • *. Current TIME and Date (8463) — courtesy of VitalPBX

CAUTION: We have intentionally disabled outbound calls using Option #9 and redirected callers to Lenny. The reason is that an unscrupulous caller could easily run up your phone bill by entering a number with expensive destination charges. If you wish to enable the feature, despite the risks, you can edit extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf and make the change.

You can call your own IVR in a few ways. From an internal VitalPBX phone, dial D-E-M-O (2663) to be connected. Or simply dial the number of the DID you routed to the Incredible PBX Custom Context. Local users can also dial the individual feature codes shown in parentheses above. Be sure that you heed AND test the CAUTION documented above.

Originally published: Monday, October 28, 2019



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


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 



  1. Many of our purchase links refer users to Amazon when we find their prices are competitive for the recommended products. Nerd Vittles receives a small referral fee from Amazon to help cover the costs of our blog. We never recommend particular products solely to generate Amazon commissions. However, when pricing is comparable or availability is favorable, we support Amazon because Amazon supports us. []

Going Public with Incredible PBX 16 and VitalPBX 2.3.8



As part of our ongoing development efforts, we maintain about a dozen honeypot servers across the U.S. and Canada to monitor the latest adventures of the bad guys. Security becomes especially important for those wishing to live on the bleeding edge and deploy a cloud-based, public-facing VoIP server. Today we want to walk you through our latest suggestions to set up and secure a VitalPBX platform using just the built-in FirewallD, IPset, and Fail2Ban components. If you opt to deploy VitalPBX in the Cloud, a KVM-based VPS is absolutely essential in order to take advantage of the security mechanisms we will introduce today.

Here are 6 Key Security Features in today’s public design:

  • SIP Registration Lockdown by FQDN
  • Extension Lockdown by IP Address
  • Trunk Provider Lockdown by IP Address
  • Web Access Lockdown by WhiteList
  • Disguised Ports for SIP and SSH Access
  • 100,000+ VOIP Blacklist for FirewallD

Is it 100% safe? Nothing ever is. That’s what backups are for. 😉

FYI: The CentOS folks reintroduced a previous FirewallD bug on October 22 which (again) broke new VitalPBX installs. On October 23, the VitalPBX developers fixed the bug (again). There should be no problems with new installs. For previous installs, see this thread on the PIAF Forum for the fix.

Taking Incredible PBX with VitalPBX to the Cloud

Because Incredible PBX with VitalPBX 2.3.8 was originally distributed as an ISO, getting it installed in the cloud was a challenge. A few cloud providers let you bring your own ISO to install on their VPS platforms, but it was still a tedious process. So today we’re pleased to introduce a new install script that can be run on any CentOS 7 platform.

We have a few cloud providers that we recommend without reservation. Both Vultr and Digital Ocean provide referral credits to Nerd Vittles to support our VoIP project development efforts. We’ve used both of them for many years with no problems. Either of the platforms works well using the $5 a month option in your choice of cities. Just be sure to choose the CentOS 7 platform, not CentOS 8. For an extra buck, you can add automatic backups.

Our favorite bargain is now CrownCloud in Los Angeles. For $25 a year, they offer a KVM VPS that is ideal as a VoIP platform. And the offering includes a free snapshot image as well. As you might imagine, it’s very popular and goes Out of Stock from time to time so check back often. For our international friends, CrownCloud offers similar platforms at the same price point in both Germany and the Netherlands.

Installing Incredible PBX with VitalPBX on CentOS 7

Once your CentOS 7 platform is up and running, here’s how to install Incredible PBX for VitalPBX. Log into your server as root using SSH or Putty. Then issue these commands:

cd /root
passwd
yum -y install net-tools wget nano tar
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx.sh
chmod +x incrediblepbx.sh
./incrediblepbx.sh

Incredible PBX Cloud Setup Recipe for VitalPBX

We think the easiest way to configure your new VitalPBX platform is to follow the simple steps outlined below. This will avoid your having to jump back and forth between tutorials to get all the pieces in place. When you’re finished, you’ll have a secure VitalPBX cloud platform. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps. If you can handle slice-and-bake cookies, you can do this!

1. Point your browser to the IP address of your server. You’ll be prompted to set a password for admin access to the GUI. Fill in the blanks to proceed. Should you ever forget your admin password, here’s how as root user to force a reset on your next login from a browser:

mysql ombutel -e 'update ombu_settings set value = "yes" where name = "reset_pwd"'


2. Register your server when prompted. The VitalPBX Dashboard will appear.

3. Decipher the public IP address of your desktop machine and any other PCs that will be used to manage your server.

4. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Admin:Security:Firewall:WhiteList. Enter each of your IP addresses from step #3 and click Save button.

5. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Admin:Security:Intrusion Detection:WhiteList. Enter each of your IP addresses from step #3 and click Save button.

6. Modify the default SSH port by logging in to your server as root and issuing the following commands using the year you were born in the first line replacing 2000:

sed -i 's|#Port 22|Port 2000|' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
systemctl restart sshd

 
7. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Admin:Security:Firewall:Services. Change the SIP port to 5080 or some other port number not in the 5060-5065 range. Change the SSH port to a 4-digit number matching the year you were born. Click Save button. Monitor your SSH log for attempted breaches and change your port if necessary:

cat /var/log/secure | grep password

 
8. Verify that you can log back into your server with SSH using the new SSH port number you assigned in step #6: ssh -p 2000 root@server-IP-address

9. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Admin:Security:Firewall:Rules. Delete the HTTP and HTTPS items by clicking the Trash icon beside each entry. In the GENERAL tab, set Block ICMP Requests to YES. Click Save button. This blocks web access to everyone except those you’ve whitelisted in step #4 above. If you ever lock yourself out of web access, login to your server as shown in step #8 and temporarily whitelist the public IP address desired. This gets removed automatically the next time you save your Firewall settings from within the VitalPBX GUI.

iptables -A vpbx_white_list -s 12.34.56.78 -j ACCEPT

10. Before we get too far along, let’s put another layer of security in place for your new server. We’re going to add the VoIP Blacklist which blocks about 100,000 bad guys from around the globe. We’ll also add a cron job to update the blacklist every night. Log back into your server as root and issue these commands to put the pieces in place and enable the VoIP Blacklist.

TIP: The cron job below is scheduled to run at 20 minutes after 3 a.m. Change the time to something else so we don’t all bombard the VoIP Blacklist site for downloads at exactly the same time every night.

cd /etc
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/voipbl-firewalld.tar.gz
tar zxvf voipbl-firewalld.tar.gz
rm -f voipbl-firewalld.tar.gz
echo "20 3 * * * root /etc/update-voipbl.sh >/dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab
/etc/update-voipbl.sh

11. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Admin:Add-Ons:Add-Ons. Click Check Online button. Click Install button beside Custom Contexts. Click Install button beside Phonebooks. Click Install button beside Domotic.

12. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Settings:Tech Settings:SIP Settings.

  a. In the GENERAL tab, set the Bind Address port to 5080 or whatever port you chose in step #7 above. This is the port number together with the FQDN of your PBX (set in the next step) that any SIP phone will need to successfully register to an extension.

  b. In the SECURITY tab, set Allow Guest to NO, set Auto-Domain to NO, set Allow External Domains to NO, and enter a fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) pointing to the IP address of your server in the Domain field. We cannot stress enough how important this FQDN is to the security of your cloud-based server. It limits SIP registrations to this FQDN only, and all SIP registration attempts by IP address are automatically blocked. Don’t skip this step!

  c. In the NETWORK tab, enter the IP address of your server in External Address. Click the ADD button in the Local Networks section and enter the private IP addresses associated with your LAN and VPN, e.g. 192.168.0.0/255.255.0.0 and 10.0.0.0/255.240.0.0. Change NAT to Force,Comedia if your server is behind a NAT-based router.

  d. In the CODECS tab, enable ULAW, ALAW, G722, and G729.

  e. In the OTHERS tab, set SRV LOOKUPS to Yes. Click SAVE button.

13. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to Settings:Tech Settings:Profiles. Click Show All Profiles bar and choose Default PJSIP Profile. In the GENERAL tab, set the following entries to YES: Force rport, Rewrite Contact, Direct Media, RTP Symmetric, and Send Diversion Header. Click UPDATE button.

14. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to PBX:Applications:Parking. Click Show All Parking Profiles bar and choose Default. Change Code from 700 to 7000 and click Update button. This changes your Parking Lot extensions to the 7000 range so that 700 range can be used for Extensions, just like other versions of Incredible PBX.

15. Log out of your Dashboard and then log back in so that the menus get refreshed with the Custom Contexts addition.

16. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to PBX:Applications:Custom Contexts. Create the new sample IVR context with the following entries. Then click Save button.

  • Description: IncrediblePBX
  • Context: incrediblepbx
  • Extension: s
  • Priority: 1
  • Destination: Terminate Call -> Hangup

17. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to PBX:Applications:Custom Applications. Create the custom application for the sample IVR and Save it.

  • Code: 3366
  • Name: DEMO
  • Enabled: YES
  • Destination: Custom Contexts -> IncrediblePBX

18. From the VitalPBX Dashboard, navigate to PBX:Applications:Conferences. Create the new sample conference application and Save it.

  • Code: 2663
  • Description: CONF
  • Music on Hold When Empty: YES
  • User Count: YES
  • Announce Join/Leave: YES
  • Announce Only User: YES
  • User PIN: 1234
  • Leader PIN: 4321
  • Drop Silence: YES

19. If you didn’t read last week’s article on Custom Contexts, now would be a good time to do so. Here are the commands to put all those pieces in place on your new cloud-based server:

cd /
yum -y install dialog wget nano tar mailx
cp -p /etc/crontab /etc/crontab.bak
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx-vitalpbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx-vitalpbx.tar.gz
rm -f incrediblepbx-vitalpbx.tar.gz
chown asterisk:asterisk /var/lib/asterisk
cd /etc/asterisk/ombutel
echo "[cos-all-custom](+)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 412,1,NoOp(Voice Dialer)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,1,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 951,1,NoOp(News)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,5,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 947,1,NoOp(Weather by ZIP)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,6,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 3172,1,NoOp(DISA Voice Dialer)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,9,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 4747,1,NoOp(Wolfram Alpha)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,3,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 8463,1,NoOp(Time of Day)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,*,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 53669,1,NoOp(Lenny)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,53669,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "exten => 86329,1,NoOp(Today in History)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Answer" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,7,1)" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo " same => n,Hangup()" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
echo "" >> extensions__80-custom.conf
systemctl restart asterisk
chown asterisk:asterisk /var/lib/asterisk
chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

20. Create new Extensions for your PBX by navigating to PBX:Extensions:Extensions. You only need to fill in the Extension, Name, and Email Address fields. We recommend extension numbers beginning with 701. If the extension will be used from a phone behind a NAT-based router, change the NAT entry to Force,Comedia. If the phone associated with the extension has a static IP address, enter it in the Permit field for an extra layer of security. In the VOICEMAIL tab, you will note that voicemail is enabled by default with a password matching the extension number. This forces the user to set the voicemail password the first time they access voicemail with their phone. We recommend the YES setting for Attach Voicemail, Ask Password, Say CID, Say Duration, and Envelope. Then press SAVE.

21. Once you have created your extensions, you can create Ring Groups to assign multiple extensions and external numbers to a designated number which will ring all of the extensions and external numbers in the ring group either simultaneously or serially. Navigate to PBX:Call Center:Ring Groups to set this up.

22. Trunk Setup. While we don’t recommend it, if you just want to play around with some toll-free calls using option 1 in the DEMO IVR to see how everything works, here’s a simple trunk setup to get you started. First, navigate to Settings:Telephony:Channel Groups and save a group named Default with no entries. Then navigate to PBX:External:Trunks:CUSTOM. Create TollFree trunk with this Dial String: SIP/1${EXTEN}@ovh.starcompartners.com. No other entries are required. Click SAVE and reload your dialplan. Finally, create an Outbound Route for these calls in PBX:External:Outbound Routes like this:

  • Description: TollFree
  • Trunks: TollFree
  • Dial Pattern: Pattern=NXXNXXXXXX

Save your settings and reload the dialplan. You now can skip down to step #25. NOTE: You will not be able to receive outside calls or make calls to numbers other than toll-free ones.

Our preference is that you use our Platinum Provider, Skyetel, for your default trunk and DID because they offer quadruple redundancy so you never miss a call. Sign up for Skyetel service and take advantage of the Nerd Vittles specials which include a $10 credit to kick the tires. First, complete the Prequalification Form here. You then will be provided a link to the Skyetel site to complete your registration. Once you have registered on the Skyetel site and your account has been activated, open a support ticket and request the $10 credit for your account by referencing the Nerd Vittles special offer. Once you are satisfied with the service, fund your account as desired, and Skyetel will match your deposit of up to $250 simply by opening another ticket. That gets you up to $500 of half-price calling. You can also port in your DIDs at no cost for 60 days after funding your account. Credit is limited to one per person/company/address/location. Effective 10/1/2023, $25/month minimum spend required.

We don’t recommend trunk registrations with a publicly exposed server because it creates a potential attack vector for intruders and any intrusion would be undetectable from the PBX since the attacker could make unauthorized calls after registering directly with your SIP provider. For this reason, Skyetel does not use SIP registrations to make connections to your PBX. Instead, Skyetel utilizes Endpoint Groups to identify which servers can communicate with the Skyetel service. An Endpoint Group consists of a Name, an IP address, a UDP or TCP port for the connection, and a numerical Priority for the group. For incoming calls destined to your PBX, DIDs are associated with an Endpoint Group to route the calls to your PBX. For outgoing calls from your PBX, a matching Endpoint Group is required to authorize outbound calls through the Skyetel network. Thus, the first step in configuring the Skyetel side for use with your PBX is to set up an Endpoint Group. Here’s a typical setup for Incredible PBX 16 for VitalPBX:

  • Name: IncrediblePBX
  • Priority: 1
  • IP Address: IncrediblePBX-Public-IP-Address
  • Port: 5062
  • Protocol: UDP
  • Description: my.incrediblepbx.com

To receive incoming PSTN calls, you’ll need at least one DID. On the Skyetel site, you acquire DIDs under the Phone Numbers tab. You have the option of Porting in Existing Numbers (free for the first 60 days after you sign up for service and fund your account) or purchasing new ones under the Buy Phone Numbers menu option.

Once you have acquired one or more DIDs, navigate to the Local Numbers or Toll Free Numbers tab and specify the desired SIP Format and Endpoint Group for each DID. Add SMS/MMS and E911 support, if desired. Call Forwarding and Failover are also supported. That completes the VoIP setup on the Skyetel side. System Status is always available here.

If you’d like additional details on why we recommend Skyetel, see this Nerd Vittles article.

On the VitalPBX side, we need to add a new Skyetel trunk. Navigate to PBX:External:Trunks:PJSIP. The VitalPBX Trunk setup should look like the following for Skyetel. If you’d like to cut-and-paste the entries for the Match field, here you go:

52.41.52.34,52.8.201.128,52.60.138.31,50.17.48.216,35.156.192.164


[popup url="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EGDhgsXWsAIbmw1?format=jpg&name=medium" width="1200″ height="700″][/popup]

In Admin:Security:Firewall:WHITELIST, you’ll need to individually Add the five Skyetel IP addresses used in the Match field above and then SAVE your firewall settings.

Finally in PBX:Incoming Calls:CID Modifiers, add a new entry for Skyetel with Skip/Length = 2/10 and Save your settings.

23. Before your PBX can receive calls, you’ll need at least one Inbound Route. This tells the PBX how to route calls from one or more phone numbers (DIDs) that you own to a destination on your PBX, e.g. an extension, a ring group, an IVR, or custom context. Navigate to PBX:External:Inbound Routes to get started. Let’s set up a default inbound route for all the DIDs you have acquired from Skyetel in step #22. Fill in the fields shown below. Then SAVE.

  • Routing Method: Default
  • Description: Default Skyetel
  • DID Pattern: [leave blank for ALL DIDs]
  • CallerID Modifier: Skyetel
  • Inbound Destination: Custom Contexts -> IncrediblePBX

24. Before you can make outbound calls from extensions on your PBX, you’ll need at least one Outbound Route. This tells the PBX which provider to use to complete calls dialed with a certain sequence of numbers. For example, you probably would want 10-digit numbers routed to Skyetel. And, if users dial 1 and then a 10-digit number, you’d probably want those calls routed to Skyetel as well. To create this outbound route, navigate to PBX:External:Outbound Routes. Fill in the fields shown below. Click ADD to add a second Dial Pattern. Click SAVE and Reload Dialplan when finished.

NOTE: While you can "spoof" any CallerID number here, it is only legal to assign CallerID numbers that you actually own. Most carriers do not forward CallerID names to destinations regardless of what you enter here. The CallerID name and number will be shown in your CDR logs: Reports:CDR Reports:CDR.

  • Description: Skyetel-OUT
  • Trunks: Skyetel
  • Outbound CID: [Your Name and CallerID Number]
  • Overwrite CID: YES
  • Dial Pattern: Prepend=1 Pattern=NXXNXXXXXX
  • Dial Pattern: Pattern=1NXXNXXXXXX

25. For the time being, we strongly recommend disabling IPv6 simply because we don’t have the necessary confidence that all of the security mechanisms are in place for IPv6. Here’s how on the CentOS 7 platform:

echo "net.ipv6.conf.all.disable_ipv6 = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "net.ipv6.conf.default.disable_ipv6 = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf
sysctl -p
sed -i 's|#AddressFamily any|AddressFamily inet|' /etc/ssh/sshd_config
systemctl restart sshd
sed -i 's|inet_protocols = all|inet_protocols = ipv4|' /etc/postfix/main.cf
systemctl restart postfix

 
26. Outbound email functionality is essential on your PBX. You’ll need it to be alerted to potential issues with VitalPBX, and you’ll need it for delivery of voicemail messages to users. There are a couple ways to implement it, and both are easy. If you want to use the native capabilities of Postfix to send the emails assuming your provider is not blocking outbound SMTP mail from downstream servers, then follow these steps:

  • Insert your FQDN from step #12b into /etc/hosts immediately after 127.0.0.1
  • Replace the contents of /etc/hostname with the same FQDN
  • Issue the following command using your actual FQDN: hostname FQDN
  • Sending yourself an email: echo "test" | mail -s test you@your-domain.com

If you don’t receive the test email message, then the easiest solution is to configure PostFix as an SMTP Relay using a Gmail account. You can do this easily from within the VitalPBX GUI. Navigate to Admin:System Settings:Email Settings and click the External Mail Server tab. Be sure that Gmail is selected and enter your Gmail name and password in the fields provided. Save your settings and send yourself an email using the field provided.

27. Once you get outbound email flowing, jump down to the next section and obtain IBM TTS and STT passwords. Now set up Voicemail Transcription with Email Message Delivery:

  a. After logging into your VitalPBX server as root using SSH/Putty:

cd /tmp
mkdir sendmail
cd sendmail
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
rm -f sendmailibm-vitalpbx.tar.gz
mv usr/sbin/sendmailibm /usr/sbin
cd /etc/asterisk/ombutel
echo "[general](+)" > voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf 
echo "; format=wav|wav49|gsm" >> voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
echo "mailcmd=/usr/sbin/sendmailibm" >> voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
chown apache:apache voicemail__60-1-transcript.conf
rm -rf /tmp/sendmail

 
  b. Restart Asterisk core services: asterisk -rx "core reload"

  c. Edit /usr/sbin/sendmailibm and insert your IBM Watson STT APIkey on line 23. Change the language on line 31 if you don’t want en-US. Then save the file.

  d. Log back into the VitalPBX GUI and configure the extensions desired for email delivery of voicemail. For each extension in PBX:Extensions:General, enter an Email Address for delivery of voicemails. In PBX:Extensions:Voicemail, verify the VM settings from step #20.

28. We hesitate to even mention (free) Festival TTS as a text-to-speech alternative because it is so bad compared to IBM TTS. But for those that like always free, here’s how to install it. Once installed, you can issue Festival commands in your dialplan using the keyword Festival followed by the text to be spoken in parentheses.

yum -y install festival
echo "[general]" > /etc/asterisk/festival.conf
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"
festival_server &
systemctl restart asterisk
echo "/usr/bin/festival_server &" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local

 

29. If you’d like to test the performance of your cloud-based server, here’s how to deploy and run SpeedTest:

cd /root
wget -O speedtest-cli https://raw.githubusercontent.com/sivel/speedtest-cli/master/speedtest.py
chmod +x speedtest-cli
/root/speedtest-cli

 
30. Associating CallerID Names (CNAM) with inbound calls for display on SIP phones and in the CDR logs is an often-requested PBX feature. There are a few ways to do it. First, for less than a penny a call, you can activate the feature with your DIDs in the Skyetel Dashboard. Or, for about half the cost, you can acquire an OpenCNAM account and activate it in VitalPBX by navigating to PBX:Incoming Calls:CID Lookup. Choose OpenCNAM as the Source and enter your credentials. Then SAVE your settings and reload the dialplan. Then, for each of your Inbound Routes, add OpenCNAM as the CID Lookup source and Update your configuration.

31. Unless you want a full-time job monitoring the size of your logs, remove the fail2ban Asterisk log which grows every 5 seconds. Navigate to Settings:PBX Settings:Log Files and click the Trash icon beside fail2ban. It’s probably a good idea to turn OFF the Notice option for the full log while you’re at it. Then SAVE your changes.

32. Before you do anything else, navigate to Admin:Admin:Backup & Restore, configure and run a Full Backup, and then download the file and keep it in a safe place. Be advised that Backup/Restore doesn’t restore Add-Ons, /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin, custom contexts (extensions__80*.conf) in /etc/asterisk/ombutel, custom MySQL databases (mysqldump -u root yourDB > yourDB.sql), custom and lenny sound directories in /var/lib/asterisk/sounds, phpMyAdmin, /usr/local/sbin, and /etc/crontab.

Obtaining IBM Watson TTS and STT Credentials

Incredible PBX uses IBM Watson® for TTS and STT support. This Nerd Vittles tutorial will walk you through getting your IBM account set up and obtaining both your TTS and STT credentials. Be sure to write down BOTH sets of credentials which you’ll need in a minute. For home and SOHO use, IBM access and services generally is FREE even though you must provide a credit card when signing up. Details are provided when you sign up. If you ever forget your passwords, you can retrieve them by navigating to Resource List:Services:TTS or STT:View Full Details:Show Credentials.

Obtaining Wolfram Alpha Credentials

When people ask what exactly Wolfram Alpha is, our favorite answer was provided by Ed Borasky.

It’s an almanac driven by a supercomputer.

That’s an understatement. It’s a bit like calling Google Search a topic index. Unlike Google which provides links to web sites that can provide answers to queries, Wolfram Alpha provides specific and detailed answers to almost any question. Here are a few examples (with descriptions of the functionality) to help you wrap your head around the breadth of information. For a complete list of what’s available, visit Wolfram Alpha’s Examples by Topic. Type a sample query here. Some of our favorites include:

Weather in Charleston South Carolina
Weather forecast for Washington D.C.
Next solar eclipse
Otis Redding
Define politician
Who won the 1969 Superbowl? (Broadway Joe)
What planes are flying overhead now? (flying over your server’s location)
Ham and cheese sandwich (nutritional information)
Holidays 2012 (summary of all holidays for 2012 with dates and DOW)
Medical University of South Carolina (history of MUSC)
Star Trek (show history, air dates, number of episodes, and more)
Apollo 11 (everything you ever wanted to know)
Cheapest Toaster (brand and price)
Battle of Gettysburg (sad day 🙂 )
Daylight Savings Time 2012 (date ranges and how to set your clocks)
Tablets by Motorola (pricing, models, and specs from Best Buy)
Doughnut (you don’t wanna know)
Snickers bar (ditto)
Weather (local weather at your server’s location)

Before you can actually use our TTS implementation of Wolfram Alpha, you’ll need to obtain a free Wolfram Alpha account. As you can imagine, there have to be some rules when you’re using someone else’s supercomputer for free. So here’s the deal. It’s free for non-commercial, personal use once you sign up for an account. But you’re limited to 2,000 queries a month which works out to almost 70 queries a day. Every query requires your personal application ID, and that’s how Wolfram Alpha keeps track of your queries. Considering the price, we think you’ll find the query limitation generous compared to other web resources.

To get started, sign up for a free Wolfram Alpha API account. Just provide your email address and set up a password. It takes less than a minute. Log into your account and click on Get An App ID. Make up a name for your application and write down (and keep secret) your APP-ID code. That’s all there is to getting set up with Wolfram Alpha. If you want to explore costs for commercial use, there are links to let you get more information.

Configuring Your Incredible PBX Credentials

In addition to your Wolfram Alpha APPID, there are two sets of IBM credentials to plug into the Asterisk AGI scripts. Keep in mind that there are different passwords for the IBM Watson TTS and STT services. The TTS credentials will look like the following: $IBM_password. The STT credentials look like this: $API_PASSWORD. Don’t mix them up. The username for both TTS and STT is now the single word: apikey

All of the scripts requiring credentials are located in /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin so switch to that directory after logging into your server as root. Edit each of the following files and insert your TTS credentials in the variables already provided: nv-today2.php, ibmtts.php, and ibmtts2.php. Edit each of the following files and insert your STT credentials in the variables already provided: getquery.sh, getnumber.sh, and getnumber2.sh. Finally, edit 4747 and insert your Wolfram Alpha APPID.

If you ever want to learn how to develop applications for Asterisk, these scripts coupled with the dialplan code included in /etc/asterisk/ombutel/extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf will point you in the right direction with easy to follow examples.

Managing the AsteriDex SQLite3 Database

We’ve alluded to the AsteriDex database in a couple of VitalPBX articles but never mentioned how to access it. Using a browser, point it to http://server-ip/asteridex4. You can add, edit, display, and delete entries from there. Before you can make changes in the database, issue the following command after logging into your server as root:

chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin

Taking Incredible PBX for a Test Drive

You can take Incredible PBX for VitalPBX on a test drive in two ways. You can call our server, and then you can try things out on your own server and compare the results. Call our IVR by dialing 1-843-606-0555. For our international friends, you can use the following SIP URI for a free call: 10159591015959@atlanta.voip.ms. For tips on setting up your own secure, hybrid SIP URI with VitalPBX, see our original tutorial. The FreePBX® setup is virtually identical except for the location of the custom SIP setting for match_auth_username=yes. On a VitalPBX server, you will enter it here: Settings:Technology Settings:SIP Settings:CUSTOM.

With Allison’s Demo IVR, you can choose from the following options:

  • 0. Chat with Operator — connects to extension 701
  • 1. AsteriDex Voice Dialer (412) – say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines" to connect
  • 2. Conferencing (2663) – log in using 1234 as the conference PIN
  • 3. Wolfram Alpha Almanac (4747) – say "What planes are flying overhead now?"
  • 4. Lenny (53669) – The Telemarketer’s Worst Nightmare
  • 5. Today’s News Headlines (951) — courtesy of Yahoo! News
  • 6. Weather by ZIP Code (947) – enter any 5-digit ZIP code for today’s weather
  • 7. Today in History (86329) — courtesy of OnThisDay.com
  • 8. Call Extension 701 — on your local PBX
  • 9. DISA Voice Dialer (3172) — say any 10-digit number to be connected
  • *. Current TIME and Date (8463) — courtesy of VitalPBX

CAUTION: We have intentionally disabled outbound calls using Option #9 and redirected callers to Lenny. The reason is that an unscrupulous caller could easily run up your phone bill by entering a number with expensive destination charges. If you wish to enable the feature, despite the risks, you can edit extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf and make the change.

You can call your own IVR in a few ways. From an internal VitalPBX phone, dial D-E-M-O (2663) to be connected. Or simply dial the number of the DID you routed to the Incredible PBX Custom Context. Local users can also dial the individual feature codes shown in parentheses above. Be sure that you heed AND test the CAUTION documented above.

Originally published: Monday, October 21, 2019





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


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.
 



Introducing Incredible PBX Custom Contexts for VitalPBX



Last week we introduced Incredible PBX for VitalPBX 2.3.8 to the Asterisk® community. And today we’re pleased to present the first of many Incredible PBX® add-ons, Allison’s DEMO IVR featuring text-to-speech and voice recognition utilities that take your Asterisk PBX to a whole new level. When we’re finished, you’ll have Headlines News, Weather Reports, Today in History, Wolfram Alpha, Voice Recognition apps to call people in your AsteriDex phonebook and to call anyone else by simply speaking the number to dial, and good ol’ Lenny, the Telemarketer’s Worst Nightmare. We’ll utilize a single custom context to harness the power of 11 Asterisk utilities using an easily configurable Interactive Voice Response (IVR) interface. Last week, VitalPBX released a new Custom Contexts module that has no limitations on the number of contexts you can create for free. But, for today, we’ll do it the old-fashioned way just to demonstrate what’s possible. And it’s pure GPL code.

Prerequisites. Before deploying the Incredible PBX components, you’ll need to install VitalPBX on a platform of your choice behind a hardware-based firewall. You’ll need to add an extension 701 where you can receive calls on a softphone or SIP phone, and you’ll need at least one SIP trunk to make and receive calls from those not connected to your PBX. The Outbound Route for this trunk must support 10 and 11-digit calls in the following formats: NXXNXXXXXX and 1NXXNXXXXXX. You’ll also need to install the Custom Contexts add-on to VitalPBX and then configure the (free) Custom Context for use by the Incredible PBX add-ons. The Inbound Route for at least one of your trunks must send calls to this new Incredible PBX Custom Context. Our previous tutorial will walk you through the setup steps for all of this.

In the VitalPBX GUI, navigate to PBX:Applications:Custom Applications and add a new 3366 (D-E-M-O) application for the Incredible PBX Demo IVR. Make it look like the following. Save your entries and Reload your dialplan when you’re finished.



In the VitalPBX GUI, navigate to PBX:Applications:Conference and add a 2663 (C-O-N-F) conference that looks like the following using PINs of your choice for participants and the conference leader. Save your entries and Reload your dialplan when you’re finished.



Finally, navigate to Settings:Technology Settings:SIP Settings:OTHERS and set SRV Lookups to YES. Save your settings and reload the dialplan.

Obtaining IBM Watson TTS and STT Credentials

Incredible PBX uses IBM Watson® for TTS and STT support. This Nerd Vittles tutorial will walk you through getting your IBM account set up and obtaining both your TTS and STT credentials. Be sure to write down BOTH sets of credentials which you’ll need in a minute. For home and SOHO use, IBM access and services generally is FREE even though you must provide a credit card when signing up. Details are provided when you sign up. If you ever forget your passwords, you can retrieve them by navigating to Watson:ExistingServices:TTS or STT:View Full Details:Show Credentials.

Obtaining Wolfram Alpha Credentials

When people ask what exactly Wolfram Alpha is, our favorite answer was provided by Ed Borasky.

It’s an almanac driven by a supercomputer.

That’s an understatement. It’s a bit like calling Google Search a topic index. Unlike Google which provides links to web sites that can provide answers to queries, Wolfram Alpha provides specific and detailed answers to almost any question. Here are a few examples (with descriptions of the functionality) to help you wrap your head around the breadth of information. For a complete list of what’s available, visit Wolfram Alpha’s Examples by Topic. Type a sample query here. Some of our favorites include:

Weather in Charleston South Carolina
Weather forecast for Washington D.C.
Next solar eclipse
Otis Redding
Define politician
Who won the 1969 Superbowl? (Broadway Joe)
What planes are flying overhead now? (flying over your server’s location)
Ham and cheese sandwich (nutritional information)
Holidays 2012 (summary of all holidays for 2012 with dates and DOW)
Medical University of South Carolina (history of MUSC)
Star Trek (show history, air dates, number of episodes, and more)
Apollo 11 (everything you ever wanted to know)
Cheapest Toaster (brand and price)
Battle of Gettysburg (sad day 🙂 )
Daylight Savings Time 2012 (date ranges and how to set your clocks)
Tablets by Motorola (pricing, models, and specs from Best Buy)
Doughnut (you don’t wanna know)
Snickers bar (ditto)
Weather (local weather at your server’s location)

Before you can actually use our TTS implementation of Wolfram Alpha, you’ll need to obtain a free Wolfram Alpha account. As you can imagine, there have to be some rules when you’re using someone else’s supercomputer for free. So here’s the deal. It’s free for non-commercial, personal use once you sign up for an account. But you’re limited to 2,000 queries a month which works out to almost 70 queries a day. Every query requires your personal application ID, and that’s how Wolfram Alpha keeps track of your queries. Considering the price, we think you’ll find the query limitation generous compared to other web resources.

To get started, sign up for a free Wolfram Alpha API account. Just provide your email address and set up a password. It takes less than a minute. Log into your account and click on Get An App ID. Make up a name for your application and write down (and keep secret) your APP-ID code. That’s all there is to getting set up with Wolfram Alpha. If you want to explore costs for commercial use, there are links to let you get more information.

Installing Incredible PBX Components

To install the Incredible PBX components on your VitalPBX server, login to your server as root and issue the following commands:

# on VitalPBX 3.x servers only, issue next 2 commands:
ln -s /etc/asterisk/vitalpbx /etc/asterisk/ombutel
ln -s /usr/share/vitalpbx /usr/share/ombutel

cd /
yum -y install dialog wget nano tar mailx
cp -p /etc/crontab /etc/crontab.bak
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/incrediblepbx-vitalpbx.tar.gz
tar zxvf incrediblepbx-vitalpbx.tar.gz
rm -f incrediblepbx-vitalpbx.tar.gz
chown asterisk:asterisk /var/lib/asterisk
chown asterisk:apache /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin
/etc/init.d/asterisk restart

The GPL3 license for all of the Incredible PBX components is available for review in /root/COPYING.

Configuring Your Incredible PBX Credentials

In addition to your Wolfram Alpha APPID, there are two sets of IBM credentials to plug into the Asterisk AGI scripts. Keep in mind that there are different passwords for the IBM Watson TTS and STT services. The TTS credentials will look like the following: $IBM_password. The STT credentials look like this: $API_PASSWORD. Don’t mix them up. The username for both TTS and STT is now the single word: apikey

All of the scripts requiring credentials are located in /var/lib/asterisk/agi-bin so switch to that directory after logging into your server as root. Edit each of the following files and insert your TTS credentials in the variables already provided: nv-today2.php, ibmtts.php, and ibmtts2.php. Edit each of the following files and insert your STT credentials in the variables already provided: getquery.sh, getnumber.sh, and getnumber2.sh. Finally, edit 4747 and insert your Wolfram Alpha APPID.

If you ever want to learn how to develop applications for Asterisk, these scripts coupled with the dialplan code included in /etc/asterisk/ombutel/extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf will point you in the right direction with easy to follow examples.

Using Asteridex with VitalPBX

AsteriDex is a web-based dialer and address book application for Asterisk and VitalPBX. It lets you store and manage phone numbers of all your friends and business associates in an easy-to-use SQLite3 database. You simply call up the application with your favorite web browser: http://vitalpbx-ip-address/asteridex4/. When you click on a contact that you wish to call, AsteriDex first calls you at extension 701, and then AsteriDex connects you to your contact through another outbound call made using your default outbound trunk that supports numbers in the 1NXXNXXXXXX format.

Before AsteriDex Click-to-Call will work, you must authorize AsteriDex to access Asterisk from your browser. After logging into your server as root, edit the following file in /etc/asterisk/ombutel: manager__50-ombutel-user.conf. For each browser IP address you wish to authorize, add an entry like the following immediately below the existing permit entry in the file. Then reload the Asterisk dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

permit=12.34.56.78
permit=192.168.0.0/255.255.255.0

Taking Incredible PBX for a Test Drive

You can take Incredible PBX for VitalPBX on a test drive in two ways. You can call our server, and then you can try things out on your own server and compare the results. Call our IVR by dialing 1-843-606-0555. For our international friends, you can use the following SIP URI for a free call: 10159591015959@atlanta.voip.ms. For tips on setting up your own secure, hybrid SIP URI with VitalPBX, see our original tutorial. The FreePBX® setup is virtually identical except for the location of the custom SIP setting for match_auth_username=yes. On a VitalPBX server, you will enter it here: Settings:Technology Settings:SIP Settings:CUSTOM.

With Allison’s Demo IVR, you can choose from the following options:

  • 0. Chat with Operator — connects to extension 701
  • 1. AsteriDex Voice Dialer – say "Delta Airlines" or "American Airlines" to connect
  • 2. Conferencing – log in using 1234 as the conference PIN
  • 3. Wolfram Alpha Almanac – say "What planes are flying overhead now?"
  • 4. Lenny – The Telemarketer’s Worst Nightmare
  • 5. Today’s News Headlines — courtesy of Yahoo! News
  • 6. Weather by ZIP Code – enter any 5-digit ZIP code for today’s weather
  • 7. Today in History — courtesy of OnThisDay.com
  • 8. Chat with Nerd Uno — courtesy of SIP URI connection to 3CX iPhone Client
  • 9. DISA Voice Dialer — say any 10-digit number to be connected
  • *. Current Date and Time — courtesy of VitalPBX

CAUTION: We have intentionally disabled outbound calls using Option #9 and redirected callers to Lenny. The reason is that an unscrupulous caller could easily run up your phone bill by entering a number with expensive destination charges. If you wish to enable the feature, despite the risks, you can edit extensions__80-1-incrediblepbx.conf and make the change.

You can call your own IVR in two ways. From an internal VitalPBX phone, dial D-E-M-O (2663) to be connected. Or simply dial the number of the DID you routed to the Incredible PBX Custom Context. Either way, you should be connected to the Incredible PBX IVR running on your VitalPBX server. Be sure that you heed AND test the CAUTION documented above.

Using Incredible PBX Features Independently of IVR

Now that we have some of the Incredible PBX applications in place using the IVR, there may be situations in which you want callers to be able to access the individual components without navigating through the IVR. For example, you may want to let users contact LENNY (53669) directly. There are three steps to do this: (1) add a new Custom Context for the feature desired, (2) add a new Custom Application with the number to associate with the application, and (3) add a snippet of dialplan code to extensions__80-custom.conf redirecting the Custom Context to the matching IVR priority. Then reload Asterisk dialplan.

For the new Lenny Custom Context, here are the entries:

Description: Lenny
Context: lenny
Extension: s
Priority: 1
Destination: Terminate Call -> Hangup

For the new Lenny Custom Application, here are the entries:

Code: 53669
Name: Lenny
Enabled: Yes
Destination:  Custom Contexts -> Lenny

In /etc/asterisk/ombutel/extensions__80-custom.conf, add the following dialplan code and reload the Asterisk dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

[lenny]
exten => s,1,NoOp(Lenny)
 same => n,Answer
 same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,53669,1)

Let’s walk through one more example to be sure you get the hang of it. To mimic the News Headlines (951) setup on other Incredible PBX platforms, here are the steps:

For the News Custom Context, here are the entries:

Description: News
Context: news
Extension: s
Priority: 1
Destination: Terminate Call -> Hangup

For the News Custom Application, here are the entries:

Code: 951
Name: News
Enabled: Yes
Destination:  Custom Contexts -> News

In /etc/asterisk/ombutel/extensions__80-custom.conf, add the following dialplan code and reload the Asterisk dialplan: asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

[news]
exten => s,1,NoOp(News)
 same => n,Answer
 same => n,Goto(incrediblepbx,5,1)

Coming Events. We still plan to address security for those that want to deploy this terrific platform in the cloud. And we’re already working on a new version of CallerID Superfecta for VitalPBX that will let you use OpenCNAM to associate names with CallerID numbers. You can follow our progress and offer suggestions on the PIAF Forum.

Originally published: Monday, October 14, 2019





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


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors


FULL DISCLOSURE: ClearlyIP, Skyetel, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, VoIP.ms, 3CX, Sangoma, TelecomsXchange and VitalPBX have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. As an Amazon Associate and Best Buy Affiliate, we also earn from qualifying purchases. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

BOGO Bonaza: Enjoy state-of-the-art VoIP service with a $10 credit and half-price SIP service on up to $500 of Skyetel trunking with free number porting when you fund your Skyetel account. No limits on number of simultaneous calls. Quadruple data center redundancy. $25 monthly minimum spend required. Tutorial and sign up details are here.

The lynchpin of Incredible PBX 2020 and beyond is ClearlyIP components which bring management of FreePBX modules and SIP phone integration to a level never before available with any other Asterisk distribution. And now you can configure and reconfigure your new Incredible PBX phones from the convenience of the Incredible PBX GUI.

VitalPBX is perhaps the fastest-growing PBX offering based upon Asterisk with an installed presence in more than 100 countries worldwide. VitalPBX has generously provided a customized White Label version of Incredible PBX tailored for use with all Incredible PBX and VitalPBX custom applications. Follow this link for a free test drive!
 

Special Thanks to Vitelity. Vitelity is now Voyant Communications and has halted new registrations for the time being. Our special thanks to Vitelity for their unwavering financial support over many years and to the many Nerd Vittles readers who continue to enjoy the benefits of their service offerings. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.