Asterisk and FreePBX Deployment Questionnaire

Type of Voice Lines Overview

A VoIP deployment can connect to the phone system in a number of ways:

  • By using existing analog lines and analog-to-digital conversion hardware

  • Opt to have no connections to analog lines for voice traffic and instead use a VoIP all-digital connection to an external phone service called a VoIP-termination service (note that fax lines and any emergency voice call lines generally need to continue to be analog-based) – see "Digital Incoming Lines" below; digital connections depend on the site's Internet connection to the VoIP-termination servers working and having adequate bandwidth for voice traffic available at all times

  • Or, use a mix of the two approaches

More information is below on each approach.

Existing contracts

  • Please check with your current phone provider for any contracts that would prevent you from moving your current phone service or numbers to another phone service provider

Some phone providers will do silent contract renewals without checking with the client – be sure to explicitly check on contract existence and renewal dates

External Incoming Lines

Analog lines are likely the current type of phones lines present. For example, it is common to have several analog phone lines coming in and connecting to an existing analog PBX phone system. Each analog line will have a pair of copper wires providing this service. Higher numbers of phone lines coming in may also be provided by the phone company using a digital line such as a T1 or E1 service.

If existing external phone lines will continue to be used, please address the following questions:

  • How many incoming lines are there?

  • What type of wiring connection do they use (individual analog lines or T1/E1/etc.)?

  • Where do they enter the building or connect to your existing telephone PBX?

  • These incoming lines need to be connected to the phone system computer. Is this entry location within a few feet of where the phone system computer will go? (If not, additional wiring will need to be put in place.)

  • What are the phone numbers associated with each line?

  • Identify and describe any telephone company features such as multiple numbers on a single line with distinctive ring, rollover (where one number is associated with multiple lines and will ring through them if the first line is busy), toll-free numbers, etc.

  • What is the incoming fax number(s) and fax line(s)? Fax lines need special handling, especially for the faxing out case. The fax line may need to be connected directly to the specified fax machine (see "Internal Analog Internal Telephone Lines" below).

  • Are there any emergency/safe room phone lines needed?

VoIP Incoming Lines

If VoIP phone lines will be used, please address the following questions:

  • Sufficient external internet bandwidth must be present to support the expected number of concurrent outgoing or incoming calls. Please gather the *maximum number* of desired incoming and outgoing concurrent calls so bandwidth requirements can be determined. This bandwidth must be available to the phone system at all times, over-and-above other types of internet traffic such as web browsing or e-mail.

  • Depending on the provider, VoIP calls can be billed per minute regardless of local or long-distance calling and both for incoming and outgoing calls. To estimate charges, please gather the average number of calling minutes per month for current usage.

  • If you are already using an existing VoIP provider, please provide the login and account configuration details of this service, and the associated phone numbers.

Outgoing Lines

  • Identify which lines should be using for outgoing calls? (Probably the same lines as used for incoming calls)

  • What caller ID information should be set on outgoing calls? (However, this sometimes cannot be changed from what the telephone company sets as your caller ID information.)

Internal Analog Internal Telephone Lines

The new phone system is a digital system that does not use analog phone wiring. Continuing to support equipment that requires analog phone signals is possible but requires special planning and additional equipment.

Are there any systems on your premises that need to be directly connected to an analog phone line? Common examples are:

  • fax machines

  • the security monitoring service or security alarm

  • postage meter machines which dial in to add funds

  • credit card/debit card payment processing devices that are calling out over an analog phone line

  • the elevator emergency phone

  • any emergency-use analog phones

If so, identify each device, where it is located and what external phone number should connect to it. Telephone wiring will need to exist or be installed between the phone system computer and each analog telephone device.

Internal Phones Handsets

  • Please identify the model(s) of the internal phone handsets you are using. In some cases, these phones can be re-used with a digital PBX (through this is often not possible as older phone handsets are often designed only to work with a PBX from their same manufacturer). Often, the reception area has a different model phone than regular staff.

  • Please identify any unusual phone handsets, such as conference room phones (e.g. tabletop speakerphone models). These will need special handling.

System Greetings

What greeting should callers hear when first connected? Please prepare a written script of this greeting. A staff person will need to be available during installation to record this greeting.

  • If you would like a different greeting based on the time of day (e.g. after-hours greeting), please specify the text of this greeting and what times it should be in effect.

  • This should include the normal days and hours the office is open and closed

  • If you would like a different greeting based on the time of day (e.g. after-hours greeting or a statutory holiday greeting), please specify the text of this greeting and what times it should be in effect.

  • This should include a list of days the office is closed for vacation so that a vacation schedule can be created

  • If you would like a different greeting based special events such as the office being closed for a company meeting, please specify the text of this greeting and what times it should be in effect.

  • This should include the schedule for special events so that a special events schedule can be created

  • What should happen after the system greeting is played? E.g. go to the main menu, go to a particular extension, etc.

Sample System Greeting

  • Thank you for calling MyOrganization.

  • Please note that our phone menu has recently changed. If you are familiar with the menu, you can press your choice at any time or press # to hear the company directory.

  • Please press 1 to reach our front desk

  • etc.

  • Please press 8 to hear what our office hours and location are.

  • Press 9 to hear this message again.

  • Press 0 or remain on the line to reach an operator.

Caller Interactive Response (IVR) Menu

  • During and after the initial system greeting, callers can press touch-tone keys to select from menu options. Please specify what this menu should be. Indicate the keys to be pressed and the action the system should take in response. These numbers should match up with the instructions given in the initial system greeting.

  • If different system greetings are used based on time-of-day settings, the IVR should also change to match. If this kind of configuration is desired, please decide what the IVR settings will be during these times.

  • What should happen if callers do not press any keys at all (a timeout)?

  • What do you want to have happen if a caller presses 0?

  • Would you like (internal) extension numbers to be directly dial-able by outside callers when they are hearing the initial system greeting? If so, no interactive menu choice should be the same as an extension number.

  • Note that the choices in the main menu can connect to any extension. If you want, pressing 1 at the main menu can connect to extension 150 or any other extension number. Or you may desire the simplicity of having both inside and outside callers dialing the same extension numbers.

IVR Menu Notes

  • Menu choices can be multiple digits and can contain the special keys * and # if desired.

Example Caller Interactive Menu

  • 1=dial extension 200

  • 2=dial extension 201

  • 3=dial extension 205

  • (etc.)

  • 8=play message about hours and location and then return to the initial system greeting

  • 9=play (again) the initial system greeting

  • 0=dial extension 200

  • timeout=dial extension 200

  • #=go to the company phone directory

Phone Directory Configuration

Internal Extension Directory

The phone system automatically maintains a directory of user names and their extensions. Callers can search the directory by name to find a person's extension.

  • Do you want to have the phone directory available to callers? By default, this is enabled and accessible using the # key when listening to the initial greeting.

  • Do you want the directory to be searched by last name, first name or both?

  • When the caller has selected a person from the directory, do you want the phone system to announce the selected extension number before automatically connecting the caller? This can help callers know the extension number to dial directly in the future. Note that this only really makes sense if callers can dial extension numbers directly from the initial system menu.

Phone Handset Configuration

  • How many phone handsets are being set up?

  • If different models of phones are being ordered, please indicate which people get which models of phone.

  • Is electrical power being provided by the network switch through Power-over-Ethernet or through a phone power adaptor?

Phone Handset Softkey Configuration

  • The phone have customizable buttons that can be set to features your office uses regularly. Please let your installer know which phone features are expected to be most used so these can be assigned to specific buttons for ease of access.

Extension Configuration

Choosing extension numbers is an important decision: matching what users are used to, ease of use and avoiding conflicts with system feature codes and external dialing are all considerations.

However, the system is quite flexible in supporting a variety of extension numbers if other patterns are desired.

Here are specific areas to include in planning when selecting your extensions.

Phone System Feature Codes

The phone system has a large set of features that users can access by dialing special codes. Your installer will provide the list of the codes. If any extension numbers conflict with these numbers, the phone system feature code will need to be changed to another number or disabled (both are easy to do).

Direct Dial Voice Mail

By default, the phone system allows internal users to dial directly to another person's voice mailbox instead of ringing their phone and waiting for them not to answer. The way to do this is to dial * followed by that person's extension number (e.g. if the extension is 205, dial *205).

Since the phone system feature codes are mostly in the format *NN, using two-digit extension numbers has a good chance of conflicting with a phone feature code. If so, the direct dial voice mail prefix can be changed from * to something else or the affected system feature codes can be changed or disabled.

Placing Outside Calls

The telephone system needs to figure out which calls are inside calls (e.g. to another extension), which are phone system feature codes and which should be routed to the outside public telephone system. Often, phone systems are configured to use a special prefix (such as 9) to indicate the call is an outside call.

If there is no special external number access code, this is the simplest approach for users, but be aware that this also places some restrictions on internal extensions to handle conflicts with valid outside telephone numbers. If there is a conflict between an inside phone number and an outside phone number, the phone system won't be able to know how to place the call until the user indicates they have finished dialing. This can be done by simply waiting a few seconds after finishing dialing, or pressing a key to indicate the number is complete (this often the # key or the right arrow key on the phone handset).

Here are the specific conflicts to note if choosing not to use an outside call prefix like 9:

  • All extensions that start with 1 will conflict – this is because long distance numbers also start with a 1.

  • All extensions that start with digits that are the same as local area codes when using 10-digit dialing will conflict

    • For example, if 226 and 519 are both valid local area codes, extensions 2, 22, or 226 and 5, 51 or 519 (depending on the length of extensions) will conflict

  • As a recommendation, if you are able to choose a new extension design, use a three-digit extension pattern starting with a digit different than 0 or 1 or the first digit of all local area codes (if ten-digit dialing is required)

Selecting Extensions

  • Considering the above, please indicate what extensions should be created. Provide the desired extension number and full name of person or role assigned to that extension.

Phone Configuration

  • Indicate which phone is to be assigned to which extension number.

  • Indicate any special extension/phone arrangements such as one extension ringing multiple phones or more than one extension ringing a single phone.

  • Indicate where phones are to be physically located. A marked floor plan is helpful.

  • Every phone location needs access to a nearby Ethernet network jack.

  • If electrical power is not supplied through the Ethernet jack ("Power-Over-Ethernet"), each phone will also need to have an electrical socket available for power. We recommend power-over-Ethernet, as poor wiring, grounding or electrical noise in the general electrical wiring system can cause crackles in the phone if the phone is plugged into a wall socket.

System configuration

  • The phone server will need to have an e-mail account to send out system alerts and voicemail messages (if this feature is desired). Please arrange with your installer to set up an e-mail account for this purpose and to get mail server access details.

Voice Mail Configuration

  • Please indicate for every extension if that extension should have a voice mail account.

Individual Voice Mail Configuration

Each voice mailbox offers a number of configuration settings. For each desired voice mailbox, please indicate the following configuration settings:

  • What is the initial voice mail numeric password? (Users can then change their password at any time after logging into the system.)

  • What is the number of seconds of ring time before the system redirects calls to voice mail? (This can be set for all users or set individually per extension.) The default is 15 seconds.

  • Should the system play back caller ID information before playing the recorded message? The default is no.

  • Should the system play back the date and time the message was left before playing the recorded message? The default is no.

  • After the voice message is saved in the user's telephone message new message folder, the telephone system can send an e-mail page or a full e-mail an alert that a voice message has been left for a person, and optionally attach the actual recording to the e-mail message. For each voice mailbox, indicate if these features are desired. If selecting to get e-mail copies of voice mail audio files, please provide a destination e-mail address. Note that e-mail sending of voice mails does not delete the voice message from the user's phone account; new voice mails are still stored and accessible by phone as usual.

  • If the system needs to send out e-mail messages, provide details of a shared sender e-mail account that will be used by the telephone system for this purpose: e.g. username, password, and mail server connection information.

System-Wide Voice Mail Configuration

Voice Mail Configuration

  • Normally the system will play a short system message after the user's custom voicemail greeting stating, "Please leave your message after the tone. When done, hang up, or press the pound key." This system message can be disabled if desired.

  • What is the maximum length for voice messages in seconds? Messages will be stopped at this length. The default is 180 seconds.

  • What is the minimum length for voice messages in seconds? Below this length, messages will not be saved. The default is 3 seconds.

  • What is the maximum number of seconds of silence allowed before the voice message is considered finished? This should be long enough to allow callers to look up numbers or do other silent things and still continue their message. The default is 10 seconds.

  • What is the maximum number of messages that should be allowed? By default, the limit is 100 messages in each voice mail folder – e.g. 100 unheard messages in the inbox, 100 heard messages in the Old (saved) message folder. The limit can be increased to a maximum of 9,999 messages per voice mail folder.

Remote Voice Mail Access

  • Should outside callers be able to log into voice mailboxes to check their messages?

  • Should outside users be able to log into their voice mailbox's web site to view and listen to their messages from a web browser?

Individual Follow-Me Configuration

  • Each user on the phone system can configure it to dial an alternate number instead of their extension if they are not at their desk. For example, users can configure calls to fail-over to their cell phone if they do not answer their desk phone. If this is desired, please provide details of desired follow-me settings.

Outgoing Call Configuration

Identifying Outside Calls

  • Indicate if you wish to have users dial 9 (or any other special code) to get an outside line or if outside numbers should be dialed directly without a special code. Please note the considerations around extension number selection described above if not using an outside line code.

Non-Local Calls

Non-local calls can be allowed for all extensions, allowed for only some extensions, protected by password access codes (or multiple codes for billing tracking) or disallowed entirely.

  • Please indicate how 1-... long distance calls should be handled.

  • Please indicate how 011-... international calls should be handled.

  • Please indicate how (900) area code number calls should be handled.

N11 Service Codes

Service codes are three digit numbers like 411 and 911 (see ). 911 should always be enabled. Others can be enabled as desired. Sometimes there is a charge for calling these numbers (such as for 411 directory assistance calls).

  • Please indicate which N11 service codes you would like enabled.

  • Note that, by default, 411 is a phone system service code to enable internal users to access the company directory. External 411 calls often incur a phone company charge.

911 Dialing

  • Users using a VoIP termination service must take special care that 911 calls provide proper physical address information to emergency services. This needs to be arranged with the VoIP termination service.

Dialing 0

  • By default, users dialing 0 will reach the internal destination for 0 unless different behavior is desired. Please indicate which internal extension should ring with callers dial 0.

Call parking

  • The phone system supports call parking, which allows a call to be "parked" in a waiting area, and then picked up by anyone else. This is an alternative to simply doing a direct transfer to another extension. Some organizations use call parking to park a call, make an intercom announcement and then let the recipient pick up the call themselves, rather than having the call be transferred by the company operator. Indicate if you wish the call parking feature enabled.

Intercom/Paging Features

  • Some phones support an intercom/paging feature. This lets people announce things over the speaker of a group of phones. It also allows for all-way vice chat/ad hoc conferencing. Indicate if you wish intercom/paging functionality enabled.

  • If so, indicate what phones should be placed into an intercom/paging group? Commonly, all phones are placed into one group, but individual areas of the building can have their own paging codes if desired.

  • Each intercom/paging group should be assigned its own extension-style number.

Music on Hold

  • The phone system can play music for callers on hold. Please provide this music if desired. Note that the music needs to be licensed for commercial use.

Conferencing features

  • The phone system supports telephone conferencing rooms. These allow a group of inside or outside callers (up to the limit of the number of outside lines) to meet in teleconference. Indicate if you wish the teleconferencing feature enabled. If so, what extension-style number should the conference room have?

Voice Mail Blast Features

  • A custom extension can be created that will distribute a message left for it to a group of other mailboxes – this is a way of leaving the same message for a group of people in one step. Please indicate if you would like any of these voice mail blast extensions set up (indicate the desired extension number and what extensions should receive a copy of the message).


The phone system and phone handsets provide considerable functionality. Your installer will provide a phone dialing code quick reference and a user's guide to the voice mail system.

  • Indicate if you wish on-site training to staff, and when this should be scheduled

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