ETel Conference: Mark Spencer on the Event

by Bruce Stewart

Since just about every single person here raised their hand when Mark Spencer asked who had heard of Asterisk, he opted to tell us a humorous story of how his company Digium came to use VoIP for it's incoming toll-free service, rather than describing the open source PBX platform. (Mark is the original programmer and creator of Asterisk in case you've been living in a cave somewhere).

A funny IVR test prompt was created for internal use at Digium, where the recorded voice started out speaking the kind of message we've all heard before, "Please hold, your call will be answered soon.." but then veered off into telling the caller there was so many calls ahead of their call that they probably wouldn't be answered today and advised them to go out and live life a bit. The test message was accessible from the outside world at an extension hanging off of their incoming 800 number, and suddenly it was discovered and the number and extension were passed around the Intenet in that kind of viral, forwarding way that can very quickly build up a huge amount of attention.

The sudden spike in voice traffic was overwhelming their incoming service and something needed to happen to alleviate the situation. Since the phone number being passed around was Digium's main incoming toll-free number, they couldn't just turn it off, but they worked with their provider to switch the incoming 800 number service to VoIP, and by routing the calls over the bigger IP pipe, the problem was fixed.

The moral of the story was they were so happy with the performance of the incoming service using VoIP that they've kept it in place.