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I'm trying to understand what a PBX or Asterisk server is. I don't understand the explanations I've found on websites via Google or wikipedia because they use too many technology words I'm unfamiliar with (eg. voip gateways, IP-PBX, conference servers etc...)

Basically, I told a friend that I have a small business with 10 freelance programmers. It would be great if my business had one phone number like 111-222-3333, and each freelancer can have an extension that routes to their cell phone. That way, freelancers never have to expose their personal phone number to the clients. My friend told me to look into setting up an Asterisks server. But in my research, I can't tell if Asterisks will do what I need.

Can someone explain to me, as if I were 12 years old, what an Asterisk is and whether it will do what I need? Are there other "cool" things an Asterisk server can do for my business?


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PBX is the english term for a "local phone system" (Private Branch Exchange) and pretty much EVERY business in the workd had one of those - hm - 20 years ago. Whenever you have multiple phones under one number there is (99.99% of the time) a PBX involved, a little local phone switch system. – TomTom Aug 1 '10 at 17:06
Can the Asterisk PBX be configured to re-route phone calls to mobile phones in other cities? For example, I need to leave Toronto and go to Chicago on a business trip. I will have my cell phone with me. However, anytime someone dials 111-222-3333 ext. 55, the call gets re-routed to my cell phone? If PBX does not meet this requirement, can you recommend a technology that will? – John Aug 1 '10 at 17:56
As I said, PBX can do that. It's a very very basic function for a PBX.. – radius Aug 1 '10 at 21:25
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Asterisk is a voice server, it can do many many things. It can answer call and give users choice and let them input data (numbers) and take action depending on the numbers.
So it can do what you want, it can also act as an answering machine.

So it can answer can and say 'Welcome to company ABC, type 1 if you know the extension of the people you want to reach, 2 to leave a message, 3 to reach a secretary.
Then user can choose and Asterisk will take configured action.

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I have this book, it provides quite enough to understand the terminology:,navId-322456.html

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