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Asterisk-based IP-PBX device adds GSM option

Jan 20, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 15 views

Pika Technologies announced a GSM Module for its open source Asterisk- and FreePBX-based IP-PBX device. The dual-channel GSM Module for the Pika Warp Appliance for Linux enables PBX developers to offer connections to one or more GSM cellular networks, offering backup and LCR (least cost routing), the company says.

Pika's new GSM Module can be integrated in current Pika Warp Appliance systems (right) or can be purchased with new systems when it ships early this summer, says Pika. The module provides two GSM channels or radios per module and uses two externally accessible SIM cards, says the company. It can also work in combination with other Warp Appliance expansion modules, such as the analog trunk (FXO), analog station (FXS), and BRI modules. (See farther below for more details on the Warp Appliance and Pika's new Warp Enterprise distribution.) 

The GSM Module supports 3V and 1.8V SIMs, as well as incoming and outgoing voice calls for PBX, auto attendant, integrated voice response (IVR), and other telephony applications, says the company. Other features are said to include support for SMS send, as well as incoming caller ID.

Features and benefits offered by the Warp Appliance equipped with the GSM Module are said to include:

  • Least Cost Routing (LCR) — Expensive calls between landline and GSM networks, or between different GSM networks, can be configured on the FreePBX dial plan with a prefix that routes calls placed from a SIP or analog phone over a GSM trunk for considerable cost savings, says Pika.
  • Backup — The GSM Module can be used as a cost-effective backup in case of landline failure.
  • Landline displacement — Warp with GSM provides a new small/medium business telephone system option for wireless carriers looking to build incremental traffic on their networks by displacing traditional landlines.
  • Remote and temporary installations — Warp with GSM is said to be well-suited for temporary installations, or for telephone systems in remote areas where landline service is unavailable or suffers from frequent downtime.
  • SMS voicemail notification — The Warp with GSM option can be set up to inform users via SMS when new voicemail has arrived, so users don't need to waste time continually checking their voicemail, says Pika.

Warp Appliance and Warp Enterprise

Pika announced its Pika Warp Appliance for Linux device (pictured farther above) in 2007, and in June 2008 shipped it with a cross-compiling SDK (software development kit) based on Denx Linux and the open source Asterisk PBX software stack. Compared to PC-based, "data centric" PBX competitors, the Appliance is touted as offering more features, including support for 32 simultaneous calls, music-on-hold (MOH), failover to analog operation, IVR, predictive dialing, appointment reminders, and paging.

In December, the company announced a Warp Enterprise version of its software. Warp Enterprise is mostly notable for incorporating a version of the FreePBX graphical front-end for Asterisk.

The Enterprise version runs on the original 9.3 x 6.7 x 2.2-inch Pika Warp device, which is equipped with a 533MHz AMCC Power PC 440EP, a security-enhanced version of the PowerPC 440. The Warp device comes standard with 256MB of RAM, 4MB NOR flash, 256MB of NAND flash, and is expandable via an SD card slot. I/O includes Ethernet, USB, and serial ports, plus an FXS port, an optional fax port, and up to two optional expansion modules for various telephony interfaces. (For more on Warp Appliance and other Asterisk-based PBX devices, please see our previous coverage, here).

High demand in Europe

A GSM option has been in high demand from Pika's customers, primarily those in Europe, says the company. Quoting statistics from Informa Telecoms and Media and 3G Americas, Pika notes that there are more than four billion GSM-enabled devices, and that GSM technology is available on more than 800 networks in about 220 countries. In Europe, notes the company, many people have more than one GSM wireless device in lieu of a landline.

Stated Stelios Koroneos, director of Athens, Greece based Digital Opsis, which specializes in the development of real-time embedded software, "We have seen from our customers that one of the highest telecom costs is for calls from a fixed network to a GSM network — as much as 60 to 70 percent more. Having Warp route calls to the GSM network directly could reduce that cost significantly."


The Pika Warp GSM module is now in beta trials, and will be generally available in early summer, says Pika Technologies. More information may be found here.

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