Categories
Blog

3D Printers and why you need one.

I recently had the need for a wall bracket for a Sangoma S505 handset and the S300/S400 handsets.

Looking at my suppliers price list there were none in stock and at nearly £10 each this seemed like a perfect project for the newly acquired 3d printer. After a bit of design work on paper then in Tinkercad (Ill be moving on to fusion 360) it was ready to print.

I’ve put a link to download of the STL code here so anyone can download and modify it, I will confess it’s a little rough but its is robust and does the job, angling and supporting the phone.

It is surprising how useful the 3d printer has become, and how readily available designs are. Another recent request was for an additional mount for a Ubiquiti wireless access point, We found a design on Thingiverse printed it out and sent it to the customer. Add to this all the little widgets that we have been making since getting it i’m not sure how we lived without one for so long.

I would urge any IT company to invest in a printer, The price point is now so low that you don’t need to produce many items to have it pay for itself, Just the 2 items mentioned here would have cost nearly £20 plus postage, and very little margin, They now cost £0.20 worth of filament and maybe £0.20 worth of renewable electricity.

Categories
Knowledge Base

Setting up Postfix to use Office 365 mail

FreePBX uses centos 7 and postfix fom its mail delivery, normally this is fine unless the customer is using Office 365 mail then there can be delivery issues.

Firstly you will need to set up a user in Office 365 for the system.

Postfix’s main configuration file is main.cf and that is where we make the required change as follow:

[root@localhost ~]# vi /etc/postfix/main.cf

Append the following lines

masquerade_domains = domainname
myhostname = USERNAME.domainname
mydomain = USERNAME.domainname
myorigin = USERNAME@domainname
relayhost = [smtp.office365.com]:587

mynetworks = 127.0.0.0/8
inet_interfaces = loopback-only
smtp_use_tls = yes
smtp_always_send_ehlo = yes
smtp_sasl_auth_enable = yes
smtp_sasl_password_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd
smtp_sasl_security_options = noanonymous
smtp_sasl_tls_security_options = noanonymous
smtp_tls_security_level = encrypt
smtp_generic_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/generic 
# smtp_tls_CAfile = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

Save and exit from the file.
Next we need to edit the configuration for the postfix SASL credentials:

[root@localhost ~]# vi /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

Add a line below

[smtp.office365.com]:587 user@domainname:password

Replacing user@domainname:password with your sender account details

Save and exit from file

A Postfix lookup table must now be generated from the sasl_passwd text file by running the following command.

[root@localhost ~]# postmap /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

Now change permission for this file

[root@localhost ~]# chown root:postfix /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

[root@localhost ~]# chmod 640 /etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

Next, we need to configure generic file in order to be able to send emails as a valid user (this is required for Office365).

[root@localhost ~]# vi /etc/postfix/generic

Go the end of file and append following lines.

root@localhost.localdomain UserName@Domain.com

Again replacing localhost.localdomain and UserName@Domain.com with your service hostname and the email user are using

Save and exit from file.

Next let’s correct the file permission.

[root@localhost ~]# chown root:root /etc/postfix/generic

[root@localhost ~]# chmod 0600 /etc/postfix/generic

[root@localhost ~]# postmap /etc/postfix/generic

Now restart Postfix service.

[root@localhost ~]# systemctl restart postfix

Now try to send a test email using the command below:
FOR Centos:

echo "This is the body of the email"| mail -r"Sender-Display-Name<sender@domain.com>" -s "This is the subject(E-Mail from SMTP Relay) line" recipeat@gmail.com

In FreePBX under Voicemail admin you must change the senders address to match your account as well as the sender for notifications such as backups etc. otherwise you can get errors and mail wont be delivered.

Categories
Applications Remote Working Services Special Offers

Sangoma Meet, Free multi-party, video conferencing and desktop sharing

Sangoma Technologies announced the general availability of its new video conferencing and collaboration service Sangoma Meet. Sangoma Meet is a multi-party, video conferencing and desktop sharing, cloud-based service, specially designed to enable a great work from home or collaboration experience. HD video support is standard with Sangoma Meet, ensuring the highest quality video calls possible. 

Sangoma Meet is also highly secure, fully encrypting password-protected video conferences to avoid problems with unauthorised users hacking into a video meeting, and Sangoma will not rent or sell Sangoma Meet user information to any third parties, including any social networks. It can also be used as a stand-alone service or in conjunction with its Unified Communication Business Phone Systems. 

Its simple to use with all the features you need

Moderator Privileges: If you are holding a team call, you have full moderator privileges. You can mute/unmute attendees, send them private messages, or kick anyone off the call. You also have the option to invite audio-only participants to limit video sharing.
Chat: If you prefer not to talk on your video call, use the chat feature in Sangoma Meet to share your thoughts with the group. A full suite of emojis will keep the conversation engaging and light!
Screen Sharing: Give your coworkers real-time examples and streamline meetings with screen sharing in Sangoma Meet. Instantly share your screen and choose what you want to show to others.
Inviting users: Its as simple as, copy your meeting link and send it to the desired parties. As soon as  users click on the link, they immediately join the conference.

Sangoma Meet is available for use today in the company’s General Availability release. It has already been in beta usage, both internally and with partners, with excellent reviews to date.

The Sangoma Meet cloud service has been updated to include additional functionality such as mobile apps (for iOS and Android), calendar integration (for Google G-suite and Microsoft Outlook), desktops apps (for both Windows and Mac) to further enhance user experience, and dial-in functionality to the video conference using a phone (with enhanced security via a PIN).

To help its end-users communicate more effectively during this global pandemic, Sangoma decided to launch this new service completely free of charge to everyone, during these troubled times. 

The full datasheet explaining all the features can be viewed here and the help site is located here

Categories
Applications FreePBX Handsets Software

Zulu UC, The ultimate communication and collaboration tool for FreePBX

Zulu UC is the ultimate communication and collaboration tool, enhancing work place productivity for on-site and remote workers.
With Zulu UC, you define your work place environment, enabling workstations, laptops and mobile devices with unified communication features, keeping you closely connected with all your colleague, where ever they are located.
Studies have shown that a large percentage of work place productivity happens when staff is out of the office, away from their desk. Zulu UC is there to make sure that you capture your creativity when it happens, wherever you are located.

Mobility
Zulu allows you to make and receive calls through your office extension as if you were sitting at your desk, reducing costs and allowing you to maintain your personal phone number.
Call Pop
Ideal for CRM and help desk integration, Call Pop automatically opens your desktop web browser on an inbound call with all the information of the caller, helping you provide better customer service.
Presence & Status
Change your status to let your colleagues know your availability. Your status update across all your endpoint devices too, letting users know whether you can take a phone call.
Click-to-Call
Click-to-Call allows users to instantly call any phone number that is seen on their web browser. Simply click on the phone number, and Zulu will initiate an outbound call via the desktop client or your desk phone.
Team Chat
Fully-featured one-to-one and group chat enables users to communicate without having to start a phone call. Zulu’s intuitive chat interface allows users to break off into phone call, fax, SMS, or transfer files. 
File Sharing
Collaborate more effectively by instantly sharing files with colleagues within the same interaction screen using the Zulu Desktop Client.

Zulu Desktop

Collaborate with colleagues and customers directly from your computer

Click-to-Call from your browser and other popular desktop applications

SMS and FAX (Requires Sangoma SIPStation service)
File sharing

Screen Pop for web-based help desks

Make/receive phone calls using your extension

Chat with colleagues using direct and group messaging

Phone System Contact list integration for Dial-by-Name

Presence control (Available, Chat, Away, DND, Not Available)

Unattended Transfer

Zulu Desktop can be Downloaded here

Most importantly its Secure

Zulu UC is designed with security in mind to protect you and your business from VoIP threats and toll fraud. 

It uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) to ensure end-to-end security from whichever device you are using Zulu. 

And User Setup has been Made Simple

Get setup with the Zulu Desktop Client in seconds. 

Simply download and install the Desktop or Mobile app then login with the user credentials. Or use the QR Code feature from within the end user UCP panel of PBXact or FreePBX.

View Installation Guide

For licence and installation information please email or call, Also subject to availability 2 user 1 year licences are available to trial the software for free

For you mobile phone see Sangoma Connect , A mobile softphone with all the features of deskphone.

Categories
Blog Calls and Lines Covid-19

Calls to 101 Non-Emergency number to be free from April 1st

Given the pressure on the emergency services presently, the Home Office have requested that the 101 Non-Emergency number be made free to all callers from 1st April 2020. Therefore these calls placed through our network will be free from midnight this evening.

We understand that this change is intended to be permanent, and not just for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

Please note that although this change will be in place from midnight tonight it may not be reflected in the ratesheet immediately .

Categories
Blog Knowledge Base

Presenting Local or national CLI from outside a country

Over the last six months an increasing number of countries will not allow internationally originated calls that are presenting a local or national CLI for the country called. 

It is believed that the reason behind this is part of a global wide crack down on fraud and nuisance calls, as some of the regulations and requirements introduced may have a more widespread impact on the CLI passed on calls.

Currently, the countries we are aware that are implementing these controls are:-

Australia – ACMA  ( Australian Communications & Media Authority ) are actively cracking down on common phone fraud, including malicious “spoofing”.

Australian networks are also trying to stamp out  “Wangiri” fraud,  where victims are called once from an international number with high premium charges for those who call back.

https://www.acma.gov.au/articles/2019-11/acma-recommends-immediate-action-combat-scams

Canada – CRTC (Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission ) have issued a requirement for telecoms providers to implement a system to block calls within their network or offer call-filtering service.

https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/phone/telemarketing/identit.htm

China – China have always been very strict on caller ID, as well as not permitting internationally originated calls with a local or national CLI, they do not allow calls presented with a withheld flag. 

These calls will either present the withheld CLI or the call will fail. 

France – ARCEP ( France’s regulatory body for electronic communications, portal and print media distribution ) have issued a statement to carriers that due to in country regulations, calls sent internationally with a French CLI are not permitted.

Malaysia – we are seeing that calls may fail if a local or national CLI is presented.

Turkey – ICTA ( Information & Communication Technologies Authority ) have introduced CLI regulations which require operators to block some voice calls with CLIs that may be confused with local numbers due to the format of the number presented.

United Arab Emirates – in our experience calls may fail if a local or national CLI is presented.  In addition, the UAE are blocking calls with a Tunisian or Algerian CLI.

Categories
Asterisk Support Covid-19 FreePBX Knowledge Base Remote Working

Disabling Router SIP ALG

With many companies asking their employees to work from home, a common problem when trying to use a sip phone on a home network is the SIP ‘helper’ or ALG, Here is some advice on how to disable it on the more common routers that you may encounter.

SIP ALG (Application Layer Gateway) modifies VoIP traffic with the aim of solving NAT and firewall related problems. SIP ALG does this by inspecting SIP packets and modifying SIP Header and SDP data.

Unfortunately, SIP ALG was poorly implemented in a lot of cases, which has lead to it causing more issues than it corrects and due to this, we believe that, in general, it is best disabled.

Note – Many routers will re-enable SIP ALG after being powered off and on, or sometimes after a firmware update, therefore if it has been disabled in the past, and you know that the router was recently updated and powered off and on again, then it is always a good idea to log in to the router and double check the setting.

Virgin SuperHub: SIP ALG cannot be disabled in the settings of SuperHubs. Please click here for advice troubleshooting issues with SuperHubs. 

BT: SIP ALG cannot be disabled in the settings of BT HomeHubs, but can be disable with BT Business Hub versions 3 and higher:

Disabling a BT Business Hub 5’s SIP ALG

Fritz!Box: SIP ALG can’t be disabled.

DrayTek routers: Log in to your DrayTek via Telnet using an SSH client such as Putty: http://www.putty.org/

Check if SIP ALG is Enabled or Disabled:

To check if SIP ALG is Enabled or Disabled enter this command: sys sip_alg ?

If SIP ALG is disabled a ” 0 ” result will be returned.  If SIP ALG is enabled the result will be ” 1 “.

Disabling SIP ALG:

To Disable SIP ALG enter the following:

sys sip_alg 0
sys commit
sys reboot

The router will restart and save your changes.

Click here for additional general information about DrayTek Firewall setup. 

TP-Link routers: How to Disable SIP ALG on TP-Link ADSL modem router

Linksys: Check for a ‘SIP ALG’ option, in the ‘Administration’ tab under ‘Advanced’. 

May also need to disable SPI Firewall. 

Microtik: Disable ‘SIP Helper‘. 

Netgear: Look for a ‘SIP ALG’ checkbox in the ‘WAN’ settings.

Port Scan and DoS Protection should also be disabled.

Disable STUN in VoIP phone’s settings. 

D-Link: In your router’s ‘Advanced’ settings –> ‘Application Level Gateway (ALG) Configuration’ uncheck the ‘SIP’ option. 

Huawei: Many routers support SIP ALG (usually found in the ‘Security’ menu). 

SonicWALL Firewall: Under the VoIP tab, the option ‘Enable Consistent NAT’ should be enabled and ‘Enable SIP Transformations’ unchecked.  

Thomson: How to Disable SIP ALG on a Thomson Router HERE

Test with STUN disabled in your VoIP phone’s settings.

Adtran Netvanta: Disable SIP ALG under ‘Firewall/ACLs’ –> ‘ALG Settings’.

Even if there isn’t a SIP ALG option in your router’s settings, it may still be implemented. TelNet commands must be used to disable SIP ALG with TechnicolorThomsonSpeedTouch, some Draytek and some ZyXEL routers. 

Categories
Knowledge Base

Using FreePBX FollowMe

Follow Me allows you to redirect a call that is placed to one of your extension to another extension or external number.

You can program the system to ring your extension alone for a certain period of time, then ring some other destination(s), such as a mobile phone or another extension, then go to the original extension’s voicemail if the call is not answered.  

It can also be used to divert calls to another extension without ringing the ‘original’ extension, or ring both together in a ‘twinned’ manner. This is useful if you are regularly away from your desk

Your can modify certain Follow Me settings using the User Control Panel as well as disable and enable Follow Me using a feature code that is normally *21,

To use the UCP to change settings if you have had permissions enabled is done by clicking the COG icon on teh Follow me Widget and below is a short Video on the key settings

Categories
Knowledge Base

Setting Up your UCP

The UCP or user control panel is an integral part of freePBX, It lets users have control over their telephone experience.

Below is a short video for setting up the key components of the UCP including voicemail and the WebRTC softphone.

The UCP Phone or WebRTC Phone is an in-browser phone. The Administrator can enable the “WebRTC phone” and that is “attached” to a user’s extension, this phone will then receive phone calls at the same time as the users extension .

The UCP allows users to add multiple dashboards and resizable widgets, This functionality allows users to completely customize the look and feel of their User Control Panel.

The Voicemail widget allows you to view, listen and manage your voicemail settings. The voicemail widget also allows you to monitor and listen to other peoples mailboxes, This feature is invaluable for receptionists and PA’s as it allows them to monitor their Managers or teh main company mailbox. To monitor additional mailboxes contact your system administrator.

 The FreePBX User Management Module controls which mailboxes a user will be able to add as a widget in UCP as it is not just limited to the extensions own mailbox, This is useful for department managers or Receptionists.

The UCP also has a chat function built-in that allows remote users to chat between each other similar to any other webchat but with the added security of it being ‘siloed’ in your company.

For full details and instructions of all options please see the WIKI at Sangoma.com

Categories
Covid-19

Coronavirus and Covid-19

The sudden spread of Coronavirus means businesses could temporarily close and employees may be asked to work from home.

We want to reassure you and your customers that our communication systems will be running as normal if this scenario were to arise.

We can quickly assist in the deployment of home working solutions for your employees and in the majority of cases your employees will be able to take their handset home and plug it into their home network and carry on working if you are using one of our hosted IPPBXs.

This is a fast moving situation and no one is sure what will happen next. We will do all we can to assist you as we have in the past for our customers, For example during the Ash cloud in 2010 where we had customers with key employees ‘stranded’ in overseas locations.

At this time you the opportunity to get plans in place in a orderly and timely manner, Below is some key actions that you plan can be checked against, Its not everything but it is a start.

The increase in public awareness of the emerging situation in respect of the COVID-19 has been accompanied by a general rise in public health concerns and alarmist headlines; many offering irresponsible assessments of the imminent nature of a crisis. Northcott Global Solutions and Fullerton Health contend that, rather than falling victim to ill-informed panic, clients currently have an opportunity to devise and put in place planning strategies that will help them minimise the potential impact to their staff and operations.
As widely reported COVID-19 is a virus that mutated, enabling human-to-human transmission to occur. Intra-country and inter-county spread are likely to occur quickly. Similarities have been made to the SARS outbreak in 2003 although current mortality trends are lower. At the time of the preparation of this brief there are no planning estimates regarding infectivity and there is anecdotal reporting of 2% mortality of those infected.
The experience from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) gives some insight into what might be expected if the Coronavirus develops into a pandemic:

– School and day care centres were closed, or strict health protocols enforced;
– Staff absenteeism was in excess of 30% (Comment: for companies that have juniors (e.g. supermarkets) in their workforce it can be assumed that absenteeism will be even greater);
– An increased demand on shopping centres;
– Distribution centres and the organisations servicing them were assessed as being the most critical parts of the infrastructure; and
– Companies with an integrated business continuity framework were more able to adapt.

Initial BCP Planning Actions Required that you may wish to consider
 – Develop/consolidate existing material and deploy training/guidance for:
– General hygiene including hand cleansing and respiratory etiquette,
– Sanitation and disinfection protocols,
– What to do if you or a staff member develop respiratory and fever like symptoms.
– What to do if your family members develop fever and flu like symptoms.
– Access restrictions to offices and the conduct of meetings in the event a pandemic occurs,
– Food handling and preparation, and
– What families can do to be prepared.
 – Identify core activities and how they may be sustained for 4 – 12 weeks whilst in a pandemic cycle (based on historical data assume absenteeism could be as high as 30%).
 – Identify the critical dependencies on third parties and review their preparation.
 – Identify how to re-organise workplaces to minimise human to human spread
 – Utilise the current crisis management team and emergency management teams’ structure for overseeing the response to a pandemic. Rehearse the response to a WHO Phase 6 scenario.
 – Review current business continuity processes including:
– Crisis plans, disaster recovery, denial of access, loss of production;
– Alternative management options (virtual, offshore, maintaining a reserve); and
– Travel policy. Monitor travel advisories and issued by FHA-A, WHO and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
 – Develop a monitoring strategy and identify the triggers for activation of management contingencies focused on the scaling back or cessation of operations. Be prepared to go through some false alarms.
 – Review third party relationships and assess their contingencies with essential contractors and suppliers.
 – Establish a staff communications strategy that is clear, with the aim being to have a “trusted, reliable and timely communication program in place” should there be a change to WHO alert levels.
 – Plan for disruptions to critical services and identify the potential points of failure.
 – Identify the HR responses to the reaction to high levels of absenteeism e.g. provision for increases in statutory provisions for sick or carer’s leave.
 – Consider establishing a supply of:
– Protective masks or respirators;
– Disposable gloves;
– Hand sanitiser; and
– Alcohol surface wipes.
 – People – categorise them into three broad areas:
   – Essential – required at office (e.g. IT maintainers, treasury);
   – Essential – can work remotely (connectivity required);
   – Non-essential – can be stood down (for up to two weeks) if required; and
– Assessment should include coverage, single points of failure, decision-making capability and autonomy.

We would advise you to go to one of our customers websites https://www.northcottglobalsolutions.com/latest-news/ for upto date information and advice and assistance for your staff members travelling overseas.