[kwlug-disc] Unlimitel/ATA pricing

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Wed Mar 11 23:35:49 EDT 2009

john at netdirect.ca wrote, On 03/11/2009 9:21 PM:
> I can tel you all about how Net Direct uses lines.
> The a-la carte $2.50 line plus minutes is all you should be paying.
> If you want you can get the more expensive line but all that gives
> is unlimited local calling. If you know your usage you can
> mathematically figue out how which is cheaper. There is a clause
> that says that if a certain % of calls goes to small centres a
> higher per minute rate is used.
> If your existing phone system takes regular phone lines (and it
> probably does) then you need an ata with an fxs port. Using atas
> will limit you to a single concurrent call through your did, unless
> your ata has more than one fxs port (asterisk with appropriate
> hardware can act as an ata). If you are able to connect that did
> directly to asterisk or a voip connection on you pbx then you can
> concurrently connect as many calls as you like through a single
> did. Unlimitel caps it at 5 or 6 for sanity purposes but will raise
> it on request.
> So, with sinlge fxs port atas you'll need one did per ata. With
> asterisk you need fxs ports.
> Since it's almost a given that your pbx has pots ports (check to
> see if there are free ports) then you would connect those free
> ports to atas (or an asterisk fxs port) and configue the ata (or
> asterisk) to connect to the did.
> You can do least cost routing on your pbx to drive local calls
> through the pots lines and long distance through voip or you may
> choose to set it up so that the voip is used first for outgoing or
> last.

As John points out, there is more than one way to skin these cats.

I pointed out how only marginally more complex it is to now introduce 
/ play with Asterisk (since most any lying around computer or vm would 
do you), instead of only just playing with soft phones / DID lines for 
the moment. [And Lori's presentation indicated how lifting the 
asterisk config files and dumping them on another box is all but 
trivial. Should you go to a different box, later. If OpenWRT can run a 
couple of VoIP lines, on what is essentially a P133 ...]

As John points out above, with a DID line and no asterisk, you have a 
1:1 DID line:person ratio. With asterisk you have 1:many.

Moreover, if you, even in your present situation, introduce Asterisk 
(receiving these DID lines) in front of and slightly to the side of 
your PBX, you can tie the two together, to some level of increasing 
co-operation, as a migration strategy. I suspect, ultimately, you 
could dumb down the PBX to the point of really just being a big switch 
wherein your current phones go straight through the PBX into Asterisk, 
for all call routing / handling features.

> You will need the help of your pbx guy and may need to do a little
> wiring. It's a learning curve but it's pretty straightforward.

You're going to need the help of your pbx guy, regardless. And who 
knows, they may already know about 'this VoIP stuff.' Even if you make 
no purchases from them, they should be able to provide some level of 
support. Both from a 'what is this thing' perspective, and from a 
'where do we want to go, organizationally' perspective.

> I'd be glad to talk to you about it.

Take John up on this Paul. Even better if NetDirect has gone into this 
line of business. [DOH! I wasn't thinking of Asterisk / VoIP when I 
wrote that, I was thinking of PBX / Telephony / management / line of 

<sigh> John doesn't promote himself enough here (on this list):

http://www.netdirect.ca/solutions/fax.php - work towards getting off 
those very expensive fax lines. (Which wouldn't even involve VoIP, 
from your perspective. Your perspective, at this point, would be that 
of acquiring a fax solution - the underlying technology would be 


And to answer other recent threads on the list:

Linux training - http://www.netdirect.ca/services/training.php

Linux laptops - http://www.netdirect.ca/products/ibm_notebooks.php

Anyways, back to this thread:
- you cannot do this on your own, you need help. Even if only for 
purchasing - ultimately, for your own sanity, you want a consistent 
end to end solution. I'm not suggesting vendor specific, but knowledge 
-person specific. That the pieces you purchase now work with the 
pieces you'll purchase next year, and how the disparate pieces hang 
together in a coherent, total, solution.
- you need a plan. Even if only staged. To avoid spending unnecessary 
$. And to determine what necessary, temporary, $, are required to keep 
everyone comfortable.
- you will need some outside, 3rd party, to bless the plan, before the 
budget controllers will approve the expenditure of the funds. Be it 
John, your PBX guy, or some cooperative combination of the two. Even 
if that cooperation is actually a migration.

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