Setting up a PBX in your house (part 1)


A typical PBX topology

In these series, I will talk about how to set up a PBX in your house. We will use a free, open-source PBX called Asterisk. But wait a minute! What the heck is PBX? Asterisk… what is this?

Since I will cover a lot of ground, I will break these series down into three parts:

Part 1: What is a PBX? Why should you care?

Part 2: What is Asterisk? And how to set it up?

Part 3: Asterisk Basic Hacks

– What is a PBX?

Here is a Wikipedia definition:

A Private Branch eXchange (PBX) is a telephone exchange that serves a particular business or office, as opposed to one that a common carrier or telephone company operates for many businesses or for the general public.

Confused? We can think a PBX as the “manager” of your telephone system. When you call a certain company, usually you have a machine that answers your call, right? Saying, “Welcome to Acme System, press 1 for English or press 0 pour le francais” or something like this. Then after you press 1, you will hear only English. If you press 0, then the session will be in French. This is one function that a PBX can do.

– Why should you care?

You definitely should! Setting up a PBX in your house can bring many benefits and maybe enhance your productivities. For example, I was using Bell Canada as my telephone provider (I am no longer subscribed). I was going for the basic features. No voice mail, no caller id, just the basic. With the presence of a PBX in my apartment, I could set a voice mail, a caller id, or even a call-forwarder. I could set something like “press 1 for Fadil or press 2 for Muhammad” (He was my roommate, btw). I could block some caller ids (annoying sales people!). I could do so many things, actually. And all of this came for cost of nothing. It was all free. Well at least you don’t have to pay, but you have to invest some of your precious time (opportunity cost).

Even though I am one of those people who is crazy about opportunity cost, I can assure you that setting up a PBX in your house is worth trying!

Here is a usual topology when deploying PBX:

A typical PBX topology

Excited? Alright, I am going to hook you up with a PBX system in the next article. Just be patient…

3 thoughts on “Setting up a PBX in your house (part 1)

  1. Hi,
    Many Thanks for your kind text information regarding VOIP.
    I have question. is it possible to set up VOIP in my apartment?(I am living in Rental Building).


    • Hi,

      Yes, you can. However, we need to differentiate some things here. The article is about setting-up a PBX in your home. So, if what you’re looking for is to have a cheaper phone calls (ie. to subscribe to a VoIP service provider), then we’re talking not really the same thing.
      What the article says is basically, say, you only subscribe to a Telco Service Provider (Phone Company) with basic subscription (no voice mail, no phone filtering, no call forwarding). By setting up a PBX in your home, then your can have these features regardless what you subscription to the company is.

      But if you’re looking to have a VoIP service at your apartment, then you can subscribe to Vonage, for example. Then they will give you a (specific) modem and a VoIP phone (if not, you can get the phone from Future Shop or any other stores). Then you can use this phone to call anyone with, of course, cheaper rate..

      Please tell me if you need more info.

  2. you mentioned that you are not longer as Bell Canada subscriber, but, for sure for setting up the VOIP, we have to be subscribe for one Phone service provider, right?

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