VoIPowering Your Office with Asterisk: Getting Free Long Distance

One of the big attractions to VoIP is the promise of free worldwide long distance. Call anywhere anytime over the Internet for nothing. What could be sweeter?

It’s a pleasant dream, but the reality is that while you can escape the tyranny
of long distance charges, it will still cost something. You have to pay for
bandwidth and equipment, and invest some time and skill in running your Asterisk
server. And the telcos are understandably unhappy at the idea of losing all
that revenue, even as we still use their wires. I can’t predict how they will
ultimately react to the upheaval caused by VoIP and Asterisk, but something
is going to change sooner or later.

Whatever the future brings, for now you can enjoy saving money and having greater flexibility by peering with other Asterisk servers. Suppose you have far-flung branch offices, or vendors or other business partners that you need to talk to a lot. You can set up your own private network of Asterisk servers and bypass the telcos entirely. In typical Asterisk fashion there are a number of ways to do this. We will look at two: using DUNDi, the Distributed Universal Number Discovery protocol, and using a central directory service like Free World Dialup. Today we’ll learn how to use Free World Dialup. DUNDi is distributed protocol that eliminates the need for a central provider; we’ll learn how to implement it next week.

Free World Dialup
Free World Dialup (FWD) is a free
central directory service that lets you easily find and connect to other VoIP
users. You may connect either with an IP phone, or your Asterisk server. FWD
supports both voice and video transmissions.

Warning: The FWD Website has a rather irritating habit of opening every page
in a new browser tab. On the other hand, you may like this. At any rate, you
have been warned.

Connecting your [email protected] server to use FWD is fairly simple. First you
register for a FWD account, then configure your server, and then you’re ready
to make and receive calls. Remember, this is a VoIP service only—it does
not give you access to the PSTN.

Setting up a FWD account
Registration is pretty simple, but there are a few little gotchas. The first
one is finding the registration page—click the “Learn More” tab, then click
the “Quick Start Guide” link. After you are signed up, click the “Extra Features”
link in your account and activate IAX. This is how you set it up to use your
Asterisk server. Keep hitting the “Submit” button until it says “Congratulations,
your changes have been successful.” For any changes you make anywhere in your
account, be sure to look for a confirmation before moving on.

You may also want to fill out your user profile. This has useful options like
opting out of marketing emails, and selecting whether you want your listing
to be public, or unlisted.

Your password and login will be emailed to you, so you should change your password right away, since email is not secure.

Server Configuration
Fire up AMP. Start with Setup -> Trunks -> Add IAX2 Trunk. Under “General Setting”, set “Outbound Caller ID” to your FWD number, or people will see only your extension number.

Now go to “Outgoing Settings.” The “Trunk Name” can be anything; it should be descriptive so you know what it’s for, like “FWD.”

“PEER Details” are just like this example, except you must substitute your own username, which is your FWD number, and password:

host=iax2.fwdnet.net
type=peer
username=123456
secret=bar


“Incoming Settings” needs to have these entries:

USER Context: iaxfwd

USER Details

allow=ulaw
auth=rsa
context=fromiaxfwd
disallow=all
inkeys=freeworlddialup
type=user


“Register String” is username:[email protected]. Using our example from PEER details, it would be 123456:[email protected].

Click “submit changes”, then go to Outbound Routing -> Add Route. Name it FWD.

Enter 393|X as the dial pattern, though this can be any number you like. 393 spells FWD on your dialpad. This is your Free World Dialup dialing prefix.

Select “IAX2/fwd” as the “Trunk Sequence,” click “Submit Changes,” then click
the red APPLY changes bar at the top of the page.

Finally, make sure you have the FWD public key installed. Log into Asterisk server on the command line and take a look:

# ls /var/lib/asterisk/keys/
freeworlddialup.pub iaxtel.pub voicepulse01.pub


And there it is. If it isn’t there, this means you have an old version of [email protected] Either upgrade, or get the key from downloads.fwdnet.net/freeworlddialup.pub.

Testing the new trunk
Try dialing some Free World Dialup numbers. Dial 393613 to hear an echo test, or 39355555 to connect to a live volunteer. Your welcome email may have other numbers you can try out.

Come back next week to learn how to set up peering without needing a central provider.

Resources
Asterisk: the Open Source PBX
[email protected]
Voip-Info.org
On-Demand Webcast: Moving to VoIP: Should You Go It Alone?
My very own Linux Cookbook is designed for beginning-to-intermediate Linux system administrators and users
TCP/IP Network Administration, Third Edition is a great networking reference

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