I have spent too much time in the past experimenting with using an Asterisk PBX server in the home. I learned a great deal but I have to confess it makes no sense for the average user. I can’t suggest doing it. Don’t get me wrong. I like open source, internet based telephony. The great convergence continues. I have simply found an easier and more cost effective way to continue using Asterisk.
There are well managed services out there that allow significant and flexible access to a shared Asterisk server so that you don’t have to host one at home or at the small business. At home I have my Linksys PAP2T-NA ATA adapter and it connects to a Canadian service provider called Voip.ms which I have been using for a few years now.
Voip.ms offers a full range of voip services and appears to also cater to the needs of resellers. The configuration is exposed using a nice web portal. They support both SIP and IAX2, have server presence in Toronto, Montreal, major regions in the US and in London, UK. You can have domestic or international DID numbers even though you may live in London, Ontario you can have a phone number almost anywhere for your customers or family to make local calls to reach you. If you don’t want a phone number but want to only make outgoing calls at very good rates you may only want to use the call termination services, avoid the monthly cost of a DID and only pay when you use the phone.
For those unwilling to give up their “plain old telephone service” this may be a good way to supplement it with a lower cost long distance phone or an extra line to keep the other free from being tied up. You can also take this phone line with you when you travel or even run a soft phone on your laptop.
For someone familiar with configuring an Asterisk PBX server, the web portal is fairly easy to use. I think it is geared to a technical user so those unfamiliar with voip telephony will have a bit of a learning curve. The prices and flexibility make hosting your own server seem impractical to me.