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Tired of Waiting on Hold? Here’s a Simple Asterisk Fix

We’ve all placed calls to support lines that keep you waiting on hold for what seems like an eternity. While some companies now offer a call back service that holds your place in the queue, many still do not. One of our users recently asked whether there was a simple way with Asterisk® to preserve your place in line without tying up your phone waiting for the other party to finally pick up the call. Here’s what we came up with.

The idea here is to use Unattended Transfer to transfer your end of the call to an extension that plays a message to dial zero to be reconnected with the calling party once your turn in the call queue finally arrives. To send your call to Pseudo-Hold, dial ##4653# (4653 spells HOLD). On Incredible PBX platforms, this will initiate an unattended transfer of your call and free up your phone.

Now we only need a little Asterisk dialplan code plus a recorded message telling the other party to press 0 to be immediately reconnected with us when they come on the phone. When the other party presses 0, the dialplan will transfer the call back to the extension that transferred the call to what we are referring to as Pseudo-Hold.

To begin, navigate to the custom folder in either /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/custom or /var/lib/asterisk/sounds/en/custom depending upon your version of Asterisk. Now download and install both the recording and the dialplan snippet:

wget http://incrediblepbx.com/presszero.tar.gz
tar zxvf presszero.tar.gz
rm -f presszero.tar.gz
sed -i '\:// BEGIN Zero:,\:// END Zero:d' /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf
sed -i '/\[from-internal-custom\]/r dialplan.txt' /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf
rm -f dialplan.txt
asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

For those that are curious, the dialplan.txt snippet looks like this:

;# // BEGIN Zero Reconnect
exten => 4653,1,Answer
exten => 4653,2,NoOp(Dialed Peer Number: ${DIALEDPEERNUMBER})
exten => 4653,3,Background(custom/PressZeroToReconnect)
exten => 4653,4,WaitExten(2)
exten => 0,1,Background(connecting)
exten => 0,2,Dial(SIP/${DIALEDPEERNUMBER})
exten => t,1,Goto(4653,3)
exten => i,1,Goto(4653,3)
exten => h,1,Hangup
;# // END Zero Reconnect

To walk you through how it works, here we go. When you press ##4653#, the call is transferred to the 4653 extension shown above. In line 1, it answers the call. In line 2, it deciphers the extension from which the call was transferred. In line 3, we play the Press Zero to Reconnect message. In step 4, we wait for the other party to press 0. If they don’t within 2 seconds, we loop back up to line 3 and play the message over and over again. If the other party presses zero, we drop down to 0,1 which plays a message saying "Connecting." Then 0,2 sends the call back to the extension that originally transferred the call to 4653.

Originally published: Monday, December 12, 2022

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  1. When 0 is pressed to transfer the call back to the extension that originally transferred the call to 4653 – I then hear "connecting" – but immediately get a busy signal instead of a transfer. I have an Oracle cloud install.

    [WM: Please open a thread on the VoIP-Info.org Forum, and we will be happy to assist with troubleshooting.]

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