Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Asterisk 10’s Confbridge– Extend your existing PBX to support multiparty video and audio conferences with Asterisk10+FreePBX 2.10


I saw an update today on FreePBX 2.10 page that included an online fix to support the new Asterisk 10 conference bridge module called ConfBridge. Previously, all FreePBX past versions, it had always use the meetme conferencing application on Asterisk, which had some limitations as time and need changes. With this new and improved conferencing app on Asterisk 10, has once again, create new fun things to do with Asterisk. Now with the direct support of Asterisk 10 ConfBridge on FreePBX 2.10, you can easily select which conferencing app to use (in this case would be selecting from meetme to confbridge) using FreePBX advance settings.
So what’s the fuss with CONFBRIDGE? (from the Asterisk Wiki here)
Asterisk, since its early days, has offered a conferencing application called MeetMe (app_meetme.so). MeetMe provides DAHDI-mixed software-based bridges for multi-party audio conferencing. MeetMe is used by nearly all Asterisk implementations - small office, call center, large office, feature-server, third-party application, etc. It has been extremely successful as an audio bridge.
Over time, several significant limitations of MeetMe have been encountered by its users. Among these are two of distinction: MeetMe requires DAHDI for mixing, and is thus limited to 8kHz (PSTN) audio sampling rates; and MeetMe is delivered in a fairly static form, it does not provide extensive configuration options.To address these limitations, a new conferencing application, based upon the ConfBridge application introduced in Asterisk 1.6.0, is now available with Asterisk 10. This new ConfBridge application replaces the older ConfBridge application. It is not intended to be a direct replacement for MeetMe, it will not provide feature parity with the MeetMe application. Instead, the new ConfBridge application delivers a completely redesigned set of functionality that most users will find more than sufficient, and in many ways better, for their conferencing needs

Some feature list
1) High quality audio (HD voice) - Advanced, high-performance wide and ultra-wideband conferencing application for 8-192kHz clients
2) Video enabled conferencing
3) Lots of in call conference options such as dynamic volume and microphone settings, add callers manually while in conference, lock and unlock conference, etc)
4) Dynamic conferences (you can host any conference number, anytime for anyone)
5) Profile based (each user can have different settings, such as admin permissions, dsp settings such as per user noise cancellations options (e.g. more echo cancellers for softphone users,..etc)
Also new work is done to do time based conferences, strict start and end times etc…

And yes, you can extend your current PBX to support conferencing straight from your existing architecture, as we call it, Asteriskify or Astrification!

Those want to test, here’s how using FreePBX. NOTE: many many new options as shown above may not directly be incorporated in FreePBX 2.10 but from what I learn, 2.11 is going to be written to support lots of these new stuff.
Just sign in to FreePBX, select advanced settings, look for conference room app, pull down and select app_confbridge. Click on the tiny apply button then the big red apply button. Done!
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Though the FreePBX team claims it to be very much in BETA (test), it worked well when I fired 20 calls on my 512MB virtual machine at the office over a 5MBps unifi line. Of course, I had no one but myself to speak to in that conference :D hehe.
Anyway, once you’ve selected the conference application, you can apply the settings and go to the Conferencing module in FreePBX and start creating new conferences.

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It is familiar with most users of FreePBX with the old app_meetme found in all FreePBX versions but in this case, since we selected confbridge, it will not use MEETME instead use CONFBRIDGE;
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