An Asterisk IP-PBX is a great solution for hotel telephony. Its advanced services provide a low cost solution that enables hotels to safely and economically migrate to a state-of-the-art VoIP solution. Most hotels are wired for analog telephony and have analog phones in their guest rooms and offices.
Networking between rooms is based on a WiFi Internet connection, and even hotels that previously provided wired high-speed Internet to guest rooms are moving to WiFi, due to ease-of-use and reduced maintenance costs. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the analog telephony infrastructure used by the hotel industry will change during the next few years.
The need to connect hundreds of analog phones to Asterisk has been a major obstacle in the deployment of Asterisk-based solutions in hotels. Using FXS PCI cards limits the number of ports and therefore does not suit hotel requirements. The only realistic solution is using channel banks.
Minimum Device, Maximum Lines Setup
Channel banks are designed to interface to T1 channels. For each 24-port channel bank a single T1 channel is needed. To support 192 FXS lines, eight 24-port channel banks and two quad-T1 cards are required. The Astribank channel bank provides a better solution; with six competitively priced 32-port models, it eliminates the need for a T1 card. The industry-standard 19" rack-mounted Astribanks can be connected to standard RJ11 front connectors or to a rear connector that bundles all 32 lines into one cable.
Connect the Astribank to the server's USB port (or use a USB hub if more ports are required than the computer supports). No need to open the server box and install PCI cards. The Astribank driver, which is supported in the official version of Asterisk, has built-in auto-configuration software that detects the unit and configures the Asterisk accordingly. The new extensions will appear in the dial plan once auto-configuration is complete.
When using the cable option, the front panel allows convenient maintenance. Each line has its own LED indicators, and the RJ11 sockets provide easy access to each line. Replacing a unit is easy: disconnect the unit from the rack, then connect the power, USB and ports.
Message Waiting Light
One of the essential features in a hotel environment is the "message waiting" light. Hotel telephone sets are often provided with such a light indicating that a message is waiting in the guest’s mailbox. Astribank is the only Asterisk FXS solution that supports this feature.
Astribank supports long telephone lines for installations that require remote telephone set support. Five telephone sets connected in parallel can be driven with a 2,000 ft. long line, and a single phone set will ring and operate with a line that is longer than 6,000 ft. (approx. 2 kilometers).
Input & Output Ports
Astribank supports input and output ports that are controlled directly by the Asterisk dial plan. The output ports can activate a door lock, intercom system, appliances, etc. The input ports can be connected to external systems, such as fire or burglar alarms, and initiate a call sequence with appropriate pre-recorded messages.