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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 .

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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.

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Asterisk Support Covid-19 FreePBX Knowledge Base Remote Working

Disabling Router SIP ALG

With many companies asking their employees to work from home, a common problem when trying to use a sip phone on a home network is the SIP ‘helper’ or ALG, Here is some advice on how to disable it on the more common routers that you may encounter.

SIP ALG (Application Layer Gateway) modifies VoIP traffic with the aim of solving NAT and firewall related problems. SIP ALG does this by inspecting SIP packets and modifying SIP Header and SDP data.

Unfortunately, SIP ALG was poorly implemented in a lot of cases, which has lead to it causing more issues than it corrects and due to this, we believe that, in general, it is best disabled.

Note – Many routers will re-enable SIP ALG after being powered off and on, or sometimes after a firmware update, therefore if it has been disabled in the past, and you know that the router was recently updated and powered off and on again, then it is always a good idea to log in to the router and double check the setting.

Virgin SuperHub: SIP ALG cannot be disabled in the settings of SuperHubs. Please click here for advice troubleshooting issues with SuperHubs. 

BT: SIP ALG cannot be disabled in the settings of BT HomeHubs, but can be disable with BT Business Hub versions 3 and higher:

Disabling a BT Business Hub 5’s SIP ALG

Fritz!Box: SIP ALG can’t be disabled.

DrayTek routers: Log in to your DrayTek via Telnet using an SSH client such as Putty: http://www.putty.org/

Check if SIP ALG is Enabled or Disabled:

To check if SIP ALG is Enabled or Disabled enter this command: sys sip_alg ?

If SIP ALG is disabled a ” 0 ” result will be returned.  If SIP ALG is enabled the result will be ” 1 “.

Disabling SIP ALG:

To Disable SIP ALG enter the following:

sys sip_alg 0
sys commit
sys reboot

The router will restart and save your changes.

Click here for additional general information about DrayTek Firewall setup. 

TP-Link routers: How to Disable SIP ALG on TP-Link ADSL modem router

Linksys: Check for a ‘SIP ALG’ option, in the ‘Administration’ tab under ‘Advanced’. 

May also need to disable SPI Firewall. 

Microtik: Disable ‘SIP Helper‘. 

Netgear: Look for a ‘SIP ALG’ checkbox in the ‘WAN’ settings.

Port Scan and DoS Protection should also be disabled.

Disable STUN in VoIP phone’s settings. 

D-Link: In your router’s ‘Advanced’ settings –> ‘Application Level Gateway (ALG) Configuration’ uncheck the ‘SIP’ option. 

Huawei: Many routers support SIP ALG (usually found in the ‘Security’ menu). 

SonicWALL Firewall: Under the VoIP tab, the option ‘Enable Consistent NAT’ should be enabled and ‘Enable SIP Transformations’ unchecked.  

Thomson: How to Disable SIP ALG on a Thomson Router HERE

Test with STUN disabled in your VoIP phone’s settings.

Adtran Netvanta: Disable SIP ALG under ‘Firewall/ACLs’ –> ‘ALG Settings’.

For Technicolor TG588V routers see this document for step by step details

Even if there isn’t a SIP ALG option in your router’s settings, it may still be implemented. TelNet commands must be used to disable SIP ALG with TechnicolorThomsonSpeedTouch, some Draytek and some ZyXEL routers. 

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Knowledge Base

Using FreePBX FollowMe

Follow Me allows you to redirect a call that is placed to one of your extension to another extension or external number.

You can program the system to ring your extension alone for a certain period of time, then ring some other destination(s), such as a mobile phone or another extension, then go to the original extension’s voicemail if the call is not answered.  

It can also be used to divert calls to another extension without ringing the ‘original’ extension, or ring both together in a ‘twinned’ manner. This is useful if you are regularly away from your desk

Your can modify certain Follow Me settings using the User Control Panel as well as disable and enable Follow Me using a feature code that is normally *21,

To use the UCP to change settings if you have had permissions enabled is done by clicking the COG icon on teh Follow me Widget and below is a short Video on the key settings

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Knowledge Base

Setting Up your UCP

The UCP or user control panel is an integral part of freePBX, It lets users have control over their telephone experience.

Below is a short video for setting up the key components of the UCP including voicemail and the WebRTC softphone.

The UCP Phone or WebRTC Phone is an in-browser phone. The Administrator can enable the “WebRTC phone” and that is “attached” to a user’s extension, this phone will then receive phone calls at the same time as the users extension .

The UCP allows users to add multiple dashboards and resizable widgets, This functionality allows users to completely customize the look and feel of their User Control Panel.

The Voicemail widget allows you to view, listen and manage your voicemail settings. The voicemail widget also allows you to monitor and listen to other peoples mailboxes, This feature is invaluable for receptionists and PA’s as it allows them to monitor their Managers or teh main company mailbox. To monitor additional mailboxes contact your system administrator.

 The FreePBX User Management Module controls which mailboxes a user will be able to add as a widget in UCP as it is not just limited to the extensions own mailbox, This is useful for department managers or Receptionists.

The UCP also has a chat function built-in that allows remote users to chat between each other similar to any other webchat but with the added security of it being ‘siloed’ in your company.

For full details and instructions of all options please see the WIKI at Sangoma.com

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Covid-19

Coronavirus and Covid-19

The sudden spread of Coronavirus means businesses could temporarily close and employees may be asked to work from home.

We want to reassure you and your customers that our communication systems will be running as normal if this scenario were to arise.

We can quickly assist in the deployment of home working solutions for your employees and in the majority of cases your employees will be able to take their handset home and plug it into their home network and carry on working if you are using one of our hosted IPPBXs.

This is a fast moving situation and no one is sure what will happen next. We will do all we can to assist you as we have in the past for our customers, For example during the Ash cloud in 2010 where we had customers with key employees ‘stranded’ in overseas locations.

At this time you the opportunity to get plans in place in a orderly and timely manner, Below is some key actions that you plan can be checked against, Its not everything but it is a start.

The increase in public awareness of the emerging situation in respect of the COVID-19 has been accompanied by a general rise in public health concerns and alarmist headlines; many offering irresponsible assessments of the imminent nature of a crisis. Northcott Global Solutions and Fullerton Health contend that, rather than falling victim to ill-informed panic, clients currently have an opportunity to devise and put in place planning strategies that will help them minimise the potential impact to their staff and operations.
As widely reported COVID-19 is a virus that mutated, enabling human-to-human transmission to occur. Intra-country and inter-county spread are likely to occur quickly. Similarities have been made to the SARS outbreak in 2003 although current mortality trends are lower. At the time of the preparation of this brief there are no planning estimates regarding infectivity and there is anecdotal reporting of 2% mortality of those infected.
The experience from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) gives some insight into what might be expected if the Coronavirus develops into a pandemic:

– School and day care centres were closed, or strict health protocols enforced;
– Staff absenteeism was in excess of 30% (Comment: for companies that have juniors (e.g. supermarkets) in their workforce it can be assumed that absenteeism will be even greater);
– An increased demand on shopping centres;
– Distribution centres and the organisations servicing them were assessed as being the most critical parts of the infrastructure; and
– Companies with an integrated business continuity framework were more able to adapt.

Initial BCP Planning Actions Required that you may wish to consider
 – Develop/consolidate existing material and deploy training/guidance for:
– General hygiene including hand cleansing and respiratory etiquette,
– Sanitation and disinfection protocols,
– What to do if you or a staff member develop respiratory and fever like symptoms.
– What to do if your family members develop fever and flu like symptoms.
– Access restrictions to offices and the conduct of meetings in the event a pandemic occurs,
– Food handling and preparation, and
– What families can do to be prepared.
 – Identify core activities and how they may be sustained for 4 – 12 weeks whilst in a pandemic cycle (based on historical data assume absenteeism could be as high as 30%).
 – Identify the critical dependencies on third parties and review their preparation.
 – Identify how to re-organise workplaces to minimise human to human spread
 – Utilise the current crisis management team and emergency management teams’ structure for overseeing the response to a pandemic. Rehearse the response to a WHO Phase 6 scenario.
 – Review current business continuity processes including:
– Crisis plans, disaster recovery, denial of access, loss of production;
– Alternative management options (virtual, offshore, maintaining a reserve); and
– Travel policy. Monitor travel advisories and issued by FHA-A, WHO and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
 – Develop a monitoring strategy and identify the triggers for activation of management contingencies focused on the scaling back or cessation of operations. Be prepared to go through some false alarms.
 – Review third party relationships and assess their contingencies with essential contractors and suppliers.
 – Establish a staff communications strategy that is clear, with the aim being to have a “trusted, reliable and timely communication program in place” should there be a change to WHO alert levels.
 – Plan for disruptions to critical services and identify the potential points of failure.
 – Identify the HR responses to the reaction to high levels of absenteeism e.g. provision for increases in statutory provisions for sick or carer’s leave.
 – Consider establishing a supply of:
– Protective masks or respirators;
– Disposable gloves;
– Hand sanitiser; and
– Alcohol surface wipes.
 – People – categorise them into three broad areas:
   – Essential – required at office (e.g. IT maintainers, treasury);
   – Essential – can work remotely (connectivity required);
   – Non-essential – can be stood down (for up to two weeks) if required; and
– Assessment should include coverage, single points of failure, decision-making capability and autonomy.

We would advise you to go to one of our customers websites https://www.northcottglobalsolutions.com/latest-news/ for upto date information and advice and assistance for your staff members travelling overseas.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.