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Thread: Telephone control for let

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Default Telephone control for let


    Me and my mum are doing up a house for a student let, we want it to be a quality letting and so have had all the bedrooms and living room wired up with Cat5e and 2 satellite feeds from a multiswitch, incorporating 2 satellite ports, digital TV and radio in one faceplate.

    What we didnt have done was telephone to each room. The idea was that students could have Sky/Sky+ if they so wanted and that of course needs a phone line.

    The trouble is that the house will be let with all bills inclusive so we were never really intending for them to use the phone line (mobiles), let alone give a phone point in each room. Charging them for the phone bill is fine but this could be a problem if the renters dont know eachother, i.e. someone makes alot of calls and wont own up to it.

    Can anyone think of a good system that will allow me to wire the phone lines for the rooms into a device like a switchboard that will allow us to keep track of/control the calls from the points in the room.

    Bear in mind the idea is for this to be Sky compatible so whatever is installed will have to be able to let a Sky box make calls with no problems. (I think Sky boxes can dial a prefix)

    Also, I read that no matter the number of extensions BT sockets can have only so many devices connected at one time (If I remember right, 4) will the switchboard (if thats what I need) count as 1 device, or however many devices are plugged into it?

    I hope ive been at least a little clear


  2. #2


    Can't help you on your control of who dials what (perhaps BT can bar all calls except to the Sky number?).

    But on the number of devices on one line - you can add a "REN Booster" and have as many as you want...


  3. #3
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    Hi, Thanks Otto-Mate.

    I looked around and found some PBX boxes on eBay. Configured correctly these could be used to block all calls to non-free numbers. (I read that the number the SKy box calls depends on the viewing card however I would assume its an 0800 although I will check if this is the route I decide to go)

    However, since Im going to all the trouble of wiring all the rooms with telephone points it seems a little wasteful to just block them off, ideally we would have a system that logs them and provides a quick way of checking whos made what calls.

    I found a system, from TalkSwitch, which seems absolutely perfect. (

    Downside is the price: 668 I knew what I was asking for wasnt going to be cheap but when the alternative that just blocks the calls is 56 from eBay its hard to justify spending so much more simply to monitor calls...

  4. #4
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Near Alicante Spain


    All I can say is many of Sky's services don't require a phone line. So why provide one. When I was as student if you had a TV and a VHS player you thought you where in heaven.
    Why not put in a pay phone.They can be picked up quite cheaply from ebay, and you can set the charge.
    On many of the research ships and rigs I've worked on they have had a pin code system. Just enter a 4 digit pin then wait for the dial tone and phone out. This is then logged and you get the bill at the end of the month. On one ship one of the guys actually built a call logger using an old DOS based PC and a modem. Every time someone dialled out the call was logged. This was then printed out on an old serial line printer. He wanted to add in a pin code but never managed to get round to it.
    Have a look here nice and cheap. not so nice and cheap about 300 pounds try here for software solutions.
    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Automated Home Jr Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default You could use a Trixbox

    You could use a Trixbox. I just depends how geeky you are?.
    I have recently set one up at home, Took about 2 hours to get it up and running and a few days to make it realy good.

    It is a Voip based system that uses SIP based phones. So everything would run over your IP Infarstructure.

    The Trixbox seems to run fine on a P3, 1G Machine with 512M of memory.
    I just download the CD from the website and off it goes. It linux based, but handled the full install for you. Warning!! It will erase your harddrive, so only use it on a new / Blank / Redundant system!!!

    Now for the Sky Dial up, SKY are usually very keen for your money, just tell them you do not have a phoneline, they normally waver the interactive penelity!! If SKY have got tough!! You can connect a ATA interface to the Voip system, (Small box required in each room) An ATA interface makes it possible to connect a standard phone to a Voip System.

    The good things about Trixbox is the sofware is free and open source (GNU). It does every cool thing you could want from a PBX. Voicemail, Voicemail to Email, Call logging, Call barring, Lease cost Routing, Auto Attendant. I works with all SIP Based VOIP providers, like sipgate and voipstunt whos charges are really cheap!!, And you can configure as make circuits as you like.

    The down side is, you need to play with it a bit to fully understand it. (Same for most PBX's) Voip calls can be a little unrelaiable sometimes.

    But it is the future! The only real use for POTS is to deliver ADSL into the home. I no longer you it to make any calls. Well, maybe 999!. voip does not have a hold on this yet!

    Its is unlikely a PBX will have a payback, most students will setup and use there own Skype, SIP, Viop and mobile service.

    I beleive you can pay a small fee to sky (25) not to have a phone line. Check out the sky forum.

    Last edited by m1anh; 4th September 2007 at 04:26 AM.

  6. #6
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    Hi, Thanks for the detailed response, I am quite geeky

    Coincidentally I was acctually looking at Asterix (didnt realise I was looking at the old version and it turned into soming else), it looks Very impressive.

    The hangup I have with a home built system however is maintainence. The house will be run by a letting agency and I doubt that they will have anyone on staff who would be able to work on a simple PBX system let alone a bespoke one installed and configured by myself.

    Im going to email a couple of letting agencies and ask what the majority of their landlords do about telephone.

    ( The call logger is probably the best way I can think of doing this at the moment, it would be attached to a seperate server that would email the logs at the end of each month, fully automated, and if the server went down the calls would still go through. Or maybe the simple fact that the calls are being logged will prevent anyone acctually needing to go and look?

    As you said the Best option would be to just tell the students they can avoid connecting the box to a phoneline, however im not sure if you can do that with Sky+, I read somewhere that its only standard Sky that will waive the phone line part of the T&Cs for 25.

    Just after writing all of the above, I called up a letting agency and they told me we could contact BT and transfer the bill directly to the tenants..... :|
    I REALLY could have done with knowing that a long while ago.

    Still, I am considering getting a PBX off eBay simply to give each tennant a private line so noone else can listen in.

    And im definately getting an Asterix/Tribox server installed when I get my own place

    Thanks for your help guys!

  7. #7
    Automated Home Jr Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Telephone Privacy Adaptor

    Astrisk is the Exchange.
    Trixbox is a compliation of Astrisk + config + admin tools + Installer
    Prev. Astrisk@home

    To stop people listening in, just cascade a couple of this babies together.

    or Cheaper.. .

    They work on a first come first served basis.. All other lines are dead once someone picks a handset up.

    Note:- The Trixbox does not have to be on site. Trixbox uses SIP - Session Initiation Protocol, this is an application-layer control, it just sets up the call.
    The calls normally go point to point. IP-IP.

    I rented a house with two work mates for 2 years. Trust me, the first person in will Connect / Transfer the phone!, Order Broadband and install a Wireless Router.
    Let them fight the bill out between themselfs. (Not your problem!)

    Unless you get some real muppet!, they will just split the cost between them. We had a single DECT phone in the hall. If you had the phone, you was the one who could make calls.

    As three engineers living together, we done lots of geeky crazzy things, but could not live with having our own cupboards in the kitchen or accounting for who ate what. So we never did! we just took turns at shopping and paying the bill!. We would take turns cooking and washing up(Most of the time!!) and eating together most of the time. It worked for us, but I am sure this is not the norm!.

    Ian -M1ANH

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