How to access additional advanced extension options
How to access additional advanced extension options
Sometimes FreePBX users want to access additional options for extensions. The key to this is to use the Follow Me module. Once it is installed, it can be used for more than just setting up a Follow Me for an extension. Quoting from the Follow Me documentation:
"There are other 'creative' uses of the Follow-Me function. At the simplest, you can simply put in the extension of the Follow Me number with a choice to go to its voicemail if not answered and you will be accomplishing exactly the same thing as if the extension was being dialed. However, you can now diverge with such simple things as changing your ring time to override the default, adding an announcement, going to an alternative voicemail or other destination if not reached, and of course adding multiple numbers and ring strategies when someone tries to call that number."
So what you do is select Follow Me in the left-hand menu that appears on most FreePBX pages. From there, you can select an extension and then configure a Follow Me and/or any of the additional options. Mouse over the option name on the Follow Me page for a more complete description:
Follow-Me List: If you don't really want a Follow Me and are only using this page to set some advanced extension options, then make sure that only that extension's number appears in this list (for example, for extension 234 only 234 should appear in the list!). Conversely, you may want to use a follow-me to set up a form of intelligent call forwarding, with the ability to take the call back and forward it someplace else if the first number you try is busy or doesn't answer - in that case you might put the extensions or numbers you wish to forward to in the list, but not the original extension's number.
Ring Time (max 60 sec): Use this to change the default amount of time an extension rings before going to voicemail, or another no-answer destination (see below).
Announcement: This is used to specify an announcement to be played to the caller prior to ringing the extension (this is where you can play one of those "This call may be recorded or monitored" type announcements, for example). Note that this announcement will play BEFORE the extension commences ringing, and therefore cannot be interrupted by the called party picking up.
Play Music On Hold?: This allows you to select a Music-on-Hold category so that you can play music (and/or pre-recorded announcements) while the extension is ringing. This IS interruptable, by the extension picking up or the Ring Time expiring.
Alert Info: Allows you to set up distinctive ringing with certain types of SIP extensions. What you place in this text field will be determined by what the SIP endpoint expects to see (often a string that beings with "Bellcore") - see your SIP endpoint's documentation. The biggest use of this for a single extension is to help distinguish which extension is ringing when there is more than one in a room.
Destination if no answer: Where the call goes when the Ring Time has expired. Normally you'd set this to the extension's voicemail, but you could also send the call back to the IVR, or to another extension, or whatever - it's up to you.
Note that all the above options (and the others that I did not mention) may have additional uses if you are actually setting up a Follow Me (that is, you have more than one destination in the Follow Me List). To discover these, mouse over each option - you should see a small text box that gives you additional usage details about each option.
There is one other question that frequently arises, and that is how to restrict one extension or a group of extensions from making outgoing calls via certain trunks, while allowing unrestricted access to other extensions. One way to do this is to set a route password (or PIN set) on the individual routes to which you wish to restrict access - this has the advantage that "approved" users can make calls from any phone on the system, while the night cleaning crew cannot make outgoing calls just because they have physical access to a "approved" phone (unless someone knows the password). However, people hate dialing passwords or PINs, and the higher they are in the organization the more they seem to think it is a waste of their time and effort to put up with this type of security feature.
Another option is to use the UNSUPPORTED Custom Contexts module - this will let you set access restrictions for individual extensions, but because the module is unsupported there is no guarantee that it will continue to work with future versions of FreePBX (if you do use this module, make sure you have the most recent version installed whenever you upgrade FreePBX!). It's also a bit difficult to maintain, particularly if you frequently add or remove routes, because of the necessity of setting priorities for each route (and making sure they are set correctly when a route is added, removed, or moved).
A third option is to use the method devised by Moshe Brevda and documented in this blog post: Restricting outbound calls in FreePBX (whitelist). This method allows call restriction on a per-extension basis, with exceptions placed in a "whitelist" of numbers that can be called despite the block.
Finally, there is the method I have described in this FreePBX forum post: A different approach to placing outgoing calling restrictions on certain extensions. This differs from Moshe's approach in that although it also allows call restriction on a per-extension basis, my method restricts access to specific outbound routes - an outbound route can be restricted or non-restricted. If an extension is restricted and tries to access an outbound route that is restricted, the call will be blocked. If either the extension or the outbound route are not restricted, the call will go through.