Take the Low-Cost Route to Building Your Own PBX

By Eric Griffith | Posted June 04, 2004

Saving money on your telecommunications bill just took an interesting turn for the better. Voiceglo, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based that makes an Internet browser-based softphone product called GloPhone and offers Vonage-like VoIP service over the Internet, this week announced that it has a patent pending on a technology to turn select wireless — and probably wired — routers into a virtual PBX (Private Branch Exchange).

Turning your home or small-to-medium business router into a Voiceglo Internet PBX will require a simple firmware upgrade that you can install on a to give it all the features needed to handle voice calls routed over the Internet, on the cheap.

According to Brian Fowler, the chief technology officer at VoiceGlo, the company will offer a Web-based softphone program so that all the PCs on your network can become phone extensions. The Internet PBX will create up to 254 "phone lines" per router.

Running the firmware on routers in separate branch offices would create an instant connection between the units, meaning free phone calls over the Internet. The routers will also be able to direct calls that might normally go to an East coast office to a West coast office during off hours, to extended customer support.

If you want to call anyone outside of your network using the plain old telephone system (POTS), you'll have to spring for a service plan through VoiceGlo. It costs $24.99 per month for unlimited calls in the US and Canada, or $39.99 per year — if you want to pay a fee on each outbound call. Mobile users can log into the system while on the road to make calls — from any hotspot or area with Internet access — with at no extra charge.

Voiceglo is working with a vendor to make a 2.4GHz wireless digital phone set as an option that will let you roam away from the computer and still take or make calls. It won't be 802.11based, just a cordless phone, but one shielded to prevent interference with Wi-Fi devices. Fowler says the company's tests with this phone have connected as far away as three city blocks.

The company is a few weeks away from making the Internet PBX available to the public, but decided to get the jump on the announcement when they filed a patent on the technology. Right now, the Internet PBX works with select routers from Netgear and Linksys, but Fowler says, "We're working on others." The current version of the Internet PBX requires the router to have Linux as an underlying OS, something not all routers use.

Fowler says Voiceglo expects to make the upgrade available to SOHO and SMB customers by mid-June, saying "We'll bring you to VoIP in 20 minutes."

Adapted from wi-fiplanet.com.

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