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Thread: Simple PBX on low volume residential line, for (sorely needed) improved screening

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Simple PBX on low volume residential line, for (sorely needed) improved screening

    Back in 2011, I switched from Vonage to VOIPo for one reason: call blocking. At that time, Vonage had no meaningful features and I was getting about a dozen spam calls a week. Fast forward 5 years, and I can easily get that amount in one day, sometimes in one hour. (Wife REALLY resistant to switching DIDs, and unclear whether that really would help that much in the long term.) And the spam is pretty vicious now, fake IRS agents, fake “going to arrest you now”, etc., often with a lot of profanity/vitriol when you don’t take the bait. While VOIPo call blocking was fine in 2011, now in 2017 it’s pretty dated and leaves me longing for a better solution.

    I think my needs could be met if VOIPo let the user rank (priority list) the Incoming Call Routing rules, and optionally add an (are you human?) challenge (e.g., “Press 1 to continue”). And it’d really be nice to also have an option to require unknown callers to announce their names (a la Google Voice). As it stands now with tons of spam calls and without ranked rules, I have to resort to a catch-all ********** to send CID’d unknown callers (usually fake CIDs) to voicemail, which is a really BAD approach as that catch-all overrides any rules for blacklisting certain callers that should get disconnected and it blocks incoming calls from someone new (e.g., contractor, doctor, etc.) who I rather be covered by a “Press 1 to continue” screening option. For those not on the receiving end of a lot of spam, you should know that many/most spammers these days are just using destination area code plus random 7 digits -- rendering VOIPo’s Spam Filer (largely) useless.

    Free/cheap PBX (e.g., Incredible PBX) has hit Raspberry Pi and it would seem to have the flexibility to implement most or all of the above screening features, especially valuable to me is the above caller challenge/announce feature. Emailing MP3 of voicemail is also nice feature of IPBX -- VOIPo WAVs don't render (natively) on iOS devices. I’m generally satisfied with VOIPo, so I’d like to stick with the service and fix my call screening woes. Question is, net of the TOS and multitude of Forum messages on PBX/Asterisk, will this generate a ton of hate, vitriol, termination, etc. from VOIPo? I certainly understand how PBX can be abused, but would seem to me that that abuse would show up rather quickly in outbound volume log. I’m at pretty low outbound volume (typically, << 1000 min/mo) and will remain at low volume, I’m just looking to REDUCE inbound volume as well. I’ve configured a test setup with Obi100 - IPBX - GoogleVoice and it seems to work OK. Before attempting that effort on VOIPo, I’d like a read on the current situation for, what I would specifically call, “PBX on residential line with PRETTY LOW VOLUME”. Can I try this, or should I just move on to another service come renewal time?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Default Re: Simple PBX on low volume residential line, for (sorely needed) improved screening

    [Crickets ...]

    Was hoping for at least a pity comment from VOIPoTim. So my take away is that VOIPo mgmt probably cringes at the thought of FreePBX/Asterisk on a residential line. Too bad, other providers (e.g., are (apparently) more accommodating. Ironically, my VOIPo Grandstream sits there with open ports and routinely gets pinged directly from China (sometimes at 3 am) thereby bypassing any possible server screening, whereas PBX gets by with registered trunks -- no need to punch hole in firewall. Yes some dufus could try to open up their SIP functionally publicly, but I'm not sure why anyone (honest) would want to do that as remote extensions over VPN are pretty easy to do. And sneak thieves could share their line via Obi110 a lot easier than PBX anyways.

    On spam calls, it's nice to see VOIPo offering nomorobo (beta) option. Unfortunately, nomorobo is surprisingly in 2017 (at least to me) heavily reliant on spammer blacklists and thus of no use to me. Around 90% of my spam calls are from boiler-room/sweatshop outfits, which use on-the-fly fake CID of [destination area code] plus [7 random digits] -- changes with each call. No matter how up-to-date nomorobo's list is in real-time, it is not effective against constantly changing fake random CID. (i guess it's good to hear some parts of the country still have "ethical" spammers that nomorobo *can* target.) Also, nomorobo uses simul-ring, so you hear at least the first ring. With a dozen or more spam calls per day, that's a deal breaker for me and THE reason why I quit using my Panasonic phone's blacklister years ago (when fake CIDs were not a problem).

    So the anti-spam solution I'm going with is a verbal captcha ("Please enter the phone number you are calling from now"), coupled with the ability to optionally transfer calls to "Lenny," who is quite a hoot:

    Lenny's YouTube Channel --

    Instructions for hosting yourself in IPBX (vs. forwarding to phone destination that hosts it)

    I would encourage VOIPo to up its whitelist/blacklist game, or simply give advanced users the ability to edit script rules, such as done for e-mail, e.g.,

    ### 2. Sieve generated for discard rules
    if header :contains "From" "JoeSpammer" {

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Kitsap County, WA.

    Default Re: Simple PBX on low volume residential line, for (sorely needed) improved screening

    It tends to be very quiet around here. Im not sure the Voipo guys actually show up much here as there is not allot to see. Especially in the BYOD section.

    There are many whom have run a PBX in the past with no issues. If you do and can make it work I don't see why anyone would care as long as you do your best to secure it.

    If your worried about your ATA sitting in the open.. why don't you look into a solution like pfSense or Smallwall to replace your present router/firewall? Then you can secure things by making firewall rules which only allow Voipo servers access.
    I Void Warranties.

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