Categories
Blog Case Studies

An out of the normal Customer request

and how we solved it:

We were approached by one of our customers who provides support services to travellers and global companies who had a client that provides maritime engineering services world wide and required an emergency helpline that “followed the sun” 

Detailed Specification

A single number that called dependant on time the on call support staff.

The calls cannot go to users Voicemail.

The staff members are to be notified by email that the call was taken and who took it.

If the on call staff do not answer the call it is forwarded to our clients call centre.

On completion of the call a copy of the recording in mp3 format is emailed to the on call staff.

Solution.

Our customer uses FreePBX so the core of the project is the use of the Queue application but with some custom dial plan and scripts to exploit and enhance features that are not exposed, 

The inbound numbers destination is a “custom destination” that first sends it to some custom dial plan explained later and then to the “Call Flow Control” application to allow the system to be overridden, It is then sent to the “Time Conditions” application that uses UTC as its time zone to over come issues with daylight saving in different hemispheres, this then send the call to the correct queue depending on time 

To allow an email to be sent to staff we used the qgosub variable that is explained HERE , this sub routine sends the email on answer. this variable is set by a small dial plan snippet that sets the qgosub variable and an additional one to set a channel variable as the callers callerID number, as its lost when the call is made to the staff members by the queue application. 

To make sure calls do not go to voicemail, the queue option “call confirm” this forces the called staff to press 1 to accept a call, This much overlooked option is useful for many queue scenarios.

If the call is unanswered the call has to be passed to the callcenter with the callerID name tagged with the customers Name, We achieve this with the “SetCallerID” application passing the call onto the client call centre.

Finally when the call is complete we need to email the recording to the customer. To do this with the “Post Call Recording Script” option in Advanced options. (You may need to enable “Display Readonly Settings” and “Override Readonly Settings”), This did require a little lateral thinking as we were already using this script to convert recordings to MP3 and save them to AWSS3 storage, But we didn’t want an email sent after all recordings do we included an additional ‘if’ statement to check if the qgosub variable was passed over to the script and if it was email the attachment otherwise do nothing.

I hope this shows the flexibility of FreePBX and asterisk and how fairly complex call routings and requests can be fulfilled in a manner that doesn’t require complex dial plans or require high support overheads.

If you want to achieve similar don’t hesitate to get in touch as by using modules already in FreePBX you’re not paying to reinvent the wheel.

Categories
Blog FreePBX Knowledge Base

Running Subroutines on answer for Queues

Some years ago we wrote a post on running macros on queue answer here. this was very useful for integration with backends, At the time we raised a feature request to get it added to Freepbx, But this never happened.

Now the variable QGOSUB is in the dialplan for freepbx queues, But still there is no way of setting this in a default freepbx installation and it requires a snip-it of custom dialplan that is called from freepbx by a ‘custom destination’ . For example at its simplest the dialplan to set it could be :-

[qmacro-set]
exten => .,1,Noop(ians test) 
exten => .,n,Set(_QGOSUB=ians_routine) 
exten => .,n,Goto(app-daynight,1,1)  

and this sets the variable for all channels in this call, and when the Queue command is run in the default freepbx dialplan

Queue(9471,${QOPTIONS},,${QAANNOUNCE},${QMAXWAIT},${QAGI},,${QGOSUB},${QRULE},${QPOSITION})  

This allows simple or more complicated routines to be run. For example sending an email on answer which was a request we had that caused us to revisit this.

[ians_routine]
exten = s,1,Set(origtime=${EPOCH})
exten = s,n,Noop(${CHANNEL})
exten = s,n,Set(Agent11=${CUT(CHANNEL,@,1)})
exten = s,n,Set(Agent12=${CUT(Agent11,/,2)})
exten = s,n,Noop(${Agent11} , ${Agent12} )
exten = s,n,Set(fulltime=${STRFTIME(${EPOCH},,%d%m%Y-%H:%M:%S)})
exten = s,n,system(echo "There has been a call , Callers Details: ${CALLERID(number)} ,  ${CRM_SOURCE} , Date and Time: ${fulltime} ,  Agent: ${Agent12} ,Timestamp: ${origtime} , Queue Number: ${QUEUENUM} " | mail -s "failed recall at ${fulltime}" email@address.com)
same = n,Return()

If you think that you would like to be able to set this variable in the freepbx gui give it a vote https://issues.freepbx.org/browse/FREEPBX-22274

Categories
Blog

3D Printers and why you need one.

I recently had the need for a wall bracket for a Sangoma S505 handset and the S300/S400 handsets.

Looking at my suppliers price list there were none in stock and at nearly £10 each this seemed like a perfect project for the newly acquired 3d printer. After a bit of design work on paper then in Tinkercad (Ill be moving on to fusion 360) it was ready to print.

I’ve put a link to download of the STL code here for S505 and here for the S300 so anyone can download and modify it, Its robust and angles the phone so that the handsets arnt knocked off easily, angling and supporting the phone. The S300 Bracket can also be used as an alternative desk base allowing the phone to sit flatter on a desk.

It is surprising how useful the 3d printer has become, and how readily available designs are. Another recent request was for an additional mount for a Ubiquiti wireless access point, We found a design on Thingiverse printed it out and sent it to the customer. Add to this all the little widgets that we have been making since getting it i’m not sure how we lived without one for so long.

I would urge any IT company to invest in a printer, The price point is now so low that you don’t need to produce many items to have it pay for itself, Just the 2 items mentioned here would have cost nearly £20 plus postage, and very little margin, They now cost £0.20 worth of filament and maybe £0.20 worth of renewable electricity.

Categories
Blog Calls and Lines Covid-19

Calls to 101 Non-Emergency number to be free from April 1st

Given the pressure on the emergency services presently, the Home Office have requested that the 101 Non-Emergency number be made free to all callers from 1st April 2020. Therefore these calls placed through our network will be free from midnight this evening.

We understand that this change is intended to be permanent, and not just for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

Please note that although this change will be in place from midnight tonight it may not be reflected in the ratesheet immediately .

Categories
Blog Knowledge Base

Presenting Local or national CLI from outside a country

Over the last six months an increasing number of countries will not allow internationally originated calls that are presenting a local or national CLI for the country called. 

It is believed that the reason behind this is part of a global wide crack down on fraud and nuisance calls, as some of the regulations and requirements introduced may have a more widespread impact on the CLI passed on calls.

Currently, the countries we are aware that are implementing these controls are:-

Australia – ACMA  ( Australian Communications & Media Authority ) are actively cracking down on common phone fraud, including malicious “spoofing”.

Australian networks are also trying to stamp out  “Wangiri” fraud,  where victims are called once from an international number with high premium charges for those who call back.

https://www.acma.gov.au/articles/2019-11/acma-recommends-immediate-action-combat-scams

Canada – CRTC (Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission ) have issued a requirement for telecoms providers to implement a system to block calls within their network or offer call-filtering service.

https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/phone/telemarketing/identit.htm

China – China have always been very strict on caller ID, as well as not permitting internationally originated calls with a local or national CLI, they do not allow calls presented with a withheld flag. 

These calls will either present the withheld CLI or the call will fail. 

France – ARCEP ( France’s regulatory body for electronic communications, portal and print media distribution ) have issued a statement to carriers that due to in country regulations, calls sent internationally with a French CLI are not permitted.

Malaysia – we are seeing that calls may fail if a local or national CLI is presented.

Turkey – ICTA ( Information & Communication Technologies Authority ) have introduced CLI regulations which require operators to block some voice calls with CLIs that may be confused with local numbers due to the format of the number presented.

United Arab Emirates – in our experience calls may fail if a local or national CLI is presented.  In addition, the UAE are blocking calls with a Tunisian or Algerian CLI.

Categories
Blog Gateways Services

ISDN Switchoff…

With the end of ISDN looming, the switch off could affect over two million businesses in the UK which will come at a cost for those affected. For many, the cost implications to replace their entire Telphone system would simply be too much, but with Sangoma’s offering, the transition from PSTN and ISDN to VoIP can provide a long-term, cost-effective solution.

Why remove a PBX that gives you everything you need? Sangoma’s Vega Gateways provide seamless connectivity to SIP providers, with no need to change any existing hardware or to re-cable your system, these gateways are designed to migrate from PSTN to SIP with minimal downtime.

Available in a range of varieties, Sangoma Vega Gateways suit businesses of all sizes from the SME to enterprise corporations. What’s more, users can benefit from advanced functionalities such as least cost routing (selecting the cheapest route for a call) and enhanced network proxy features which can help with the failover of calls from VoIP to PSTN in the event of a loss of internet connection.

If you would like more information or advice on what is the best option for your business please call or email us. Unlike many we have ISDN simulators so that we can configure your new gateway and install it with limited disruption to your business

Categories
Blog Knowledge Base

SSL, FOP2 and All that..

There are a few common questions and gotchas when using fop2 on a FreePBX server using ssl.

The symptom is simple you cant connect and at the bottom left if tels you that it cant connect over websockets to port 4445 and will finally time out saying Flash is required.. None of this is awfully helpful to be honest.

But the fix is simple and its a shame by default its not this .

In your fop2.cfg file local the lines below and edit them so they match .

It maybe that your certificate names aren’t as below, In that case substitute webserver.XXX with the correct file names.

; If you access fop2 via https, browsers will try to use wss (Secure 
; web sockets) and for that it requires a certificate file and key file,
; the same ones you have in your web server configuration. Be sure to
; specify the correct certificates, the defaults are the ones for a 
; regular Centos installation:
;

ssl_certificate_file=/etc/httpd/pki/webserver.crt
ssl_certificate_key_file=/etc/httpd/pki/webserver.key
;ssl_certificate_file=/etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt
;ssl_certificate_key_file=/etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key

Thats its. Fop2 will now work over HTTPS

Categories
Blog Knowledge Base

Recording Announcements in FreePBX 13 and later

This was recorded a while ago as an aid to a customer, Its a short video on recording prompts and then adding them to an announcment so they can be used in call flow.

Categories
Blog Handsets Products Special Offers

The Gigaset N670 IP PRO grows with the company

LAUNCH OFFER ! SINGLE BASE INC VAT AND DELIVERY FOR £130

Professional IP DECT base station that can become a multi-cell system

N670

The new Gigaset N670 IP PRO offers business customers performance and maximum flexibility to deal with future growth. It supports 20 users, SIP accounts and handsets, can handle eight simultaneous calls, thus enabling a broad range of uses for DECT telephony in the business arena. The base station is compatible with numerous on-premise and cloud-based telephone systems and supports all handsets from Gigaset’s Professional series. If a company’s requirements increase, for example, because it needs more extensions or its floor space expands, the N670 IP PRO can be upgraded in the future with a license to a multi-cell system1).

Modern DECT communication solutions deliver complete freedom of movement in challenging work environments, need minimum cabling, and are easy to install and maintain. As Europe’s DECT pioneer, Gigaset not only makes cordless phones for millions of households worldwide, but also professional telephone systems at its Bocholt site in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The N670 IP PRO DECT base station delivers greater performance and simplifies administration. The device merely needs an Ethernet port for connectivity and supplying power, and the handsets require just one socket for the charging station – everything else works without cables.

“The N670 IP PRO embodies all the expertise we’ve amassed with professional IP DECT systems over the past years,” says Norbert Cremer, Head of Product Management Business Solutions at Gigaset. “We wanted to create an even better, more flexible and more powerful IP DECT base station, one offering the customary ease of installation, great convenience and comprehensive security. Yet the real highlight for our customers is that they can expand it into a multi-cell system with a license upgrade1).” Gigaset is positioning the N670 IP PRO between the N510 IP PRO and the N870 IP PRO multi-cell system.

From the single-cell to the multi-cell system

The N670 IP PRO is an investment in the future: If the floor space or number of users at an organization increases, the N670 IP can be expanded into a multi-cell system with an upgrade license1). Additional base stations cover multiple stories or buildings and ensure users can be reached everywhere. That makes the N670 IP PRO interesting for growing and aspiring companies in particular.

Current datasheet is here and with an RRP or £119.99+Vat this is a great alternative to the N510, Contact us for special launch pricing and Bundle packages.

Categories
Blog

0330 numbers, A simple guide

What is an 033 number?

An 033 number is a telephone number that is charged the same as the local rate when phoning from the UK. Calls to 033 numbers and 0330 telephone numbers will cost your callers the same as calls to geographic numbers (starting 01 or 02), and will be included as part of any inclusive call minutes included in your mobile or landline contract

03 Numbers can be divided into two categories

1. 030 telephone numbers (mainly 0300 numbers) which can only be used by Public Sector and Registered Charities

2. Any other 03 numbers (0330, 0333, 0345, 0370) that any company can use

What is the cost of calling a 0330 number?

One of the many questions that many people have is – how much am I going to pay to call a 0330 number? Well, that depends on a range of different matters. The main one is that the method and provider that you’re using to make the call. The use of 0330 number is regulated by Ofcom, and so is the amount that service providers are allowed to charge to call them.

Cost to call 0330 numbers from mobile

The main advantage of using a 0330 number is the cost. The number costs exactly the same as if you were calling a normal landline number to a home or business for example. Therefore you will be charged the same amount as the usual national or local numbers that start with the area codes ’02’ and ’01’. Here’s how much it costs to call from popular mobile service providers.

Mobile Operator Bundled minutes cost Outside Bundle cost
EE Free 30p/m
GiffGaff Free 10p/m
O2 Free 35p/m
Tesco Mobile Free 25p/m
Three Mobile Free 3p/m
Vodafone Free 30p/m

Cost to call 0330 numbers from landline

Another advantage of buying a business 0330 number is that if your mobile phone or landline tariff includes calls to landline telephone numbers or a monthly minutes, then 0330 numbers will be included. This means that if you use your mobile telephones monthly quota of ‘minutes’, for example, you will not be charged anything extra for making the call to a 0330 number.

It is important to point out that 0330 numbers are not the same as 0800 and 0808 freephone numbers. However, they appear to be free phone numbers to many people because they are often included as no further charges on both mobile and landline call packages.

Here’s how much it costs to call 0330 numbers from landline at peak times from your Landline.

Provider Approximate peak time charges
BT 12p/m + 21p set up charge
TalkTalk 13.5ppm
Gradwell 1.25ppm

What is the 0330 number?

Any number beginning with 03 is classed as a non-geographic number. These are charged at standard geographic rates – i.e. the same as a call to a normal landline number, or a 01/02 number. This is the rule across all suppliers, and is written into telecoms legislation – therefore you should never be charged differently or more than a call to a normal landline. Telecommunications legislation means that these usually just come out of the inclusive minutes of a contract.

Despite the fact that there is still some unease around the numbers, they have been in circulation for a relatively long amount of time. First introduced in 2007, they have steadily been picked up by businesses and organisations looking for a recognisable number. Unlike the 0345 or 0370 – both of which are intrinsically linked to their 08 equivalent – the 0330 number range offers companies a quick and easy way in which to get a memorable telephone number for their business.

Over the coming years, as 08 numbers become increasingly sparse, consumers should expect to see a lot more 0330 numbers being used by businesses – and questions over the amount it costs to call them should lower as people get used to dialling them regularly.

Buying 0330 numbers

If you are interested in purchasing an 0330 number for either diverting to your existing number or as a direct VoIP connection please get in touch we provide all UK numbers and special service numbers at very competitive rates.