Indy Business: Static on Your Phone Line

icon-phone-square Indy Business: Static on Your Phone Line

Getting static or low audio during calls on your home or office phone service can be very annoying, but luckily it’s something that can be diagnosed and solved pretty easily in most cases.  There are a few different reasons you might be experiencing static on your line, so let’s go through them and see what can be done.


The first thing to check is to make sure it is actually your phone or phone service that is causing the issue.  If your calls are fine except when you talk with a certain person or business, then the good news is that your phone is probably working great!  But in that case, someone also needs to tell the other person that their phone isn’t working correctly.

We’re biased, but we believe nobody deserves to live with bad phone service!


If the static is happening with multiple people, then unfortunately the problem is in your system.  The next thing you should try is using any additional phones you have to determine whether the static is coming from your physical phone, or whether it is coming from your actual phone service.

If you can test with both corded and cordless phones, or with different makes and models, that is always best.  At this point, we just want to see if the static is happening on one phone or all the phones.  If it is just on one phone, then fixing or replacing it is the obvious answer.  But what if the static is on all your phones?


Static on all your phones means a couple things.  First, it means you have an exposed wire or loose connection somewhere that needs to be tracked down and fixed.  But more importantly, it means you probably have an analog phone system.  Digital VoIP phone service almost never gets static.

Our phone service, for example, is 100% digital, which means you shouldn’t ever get any static.  From the time your voice goes into your receiver to the time it joins the wider phone network, it is digitized and delivered just like it came out.  So while we hope you’ve been able to use this post to find and fix your static problem, we also want to recommend replacing your analog service as soon as you can.

Find a reputable VoIP service provider in your area, or feel free to contact us if you live in Indiana.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Indy Business: Is My Phone System Secure?

icon-lock Indy Business: Is My Phone System Secure?

Most businesses probably don’t think about the security of their phone system, but if you have phone service Indianapolis from one of the big cable or telephone companies, the security of your conversations is stuck in the past.  Many cable and phone companies still rely on analog phone signals once the connection is inside the building, meaning that almost anyone could listen in with relative ease.

If a regular phone cord is coming out of your office phone, then your office or business still relies on analog phone service, at least until it gets to your PBX, modem, or demarcation box.  And while there are many good reasons to go with VoIP business phone service (call quality, cost savings, better features, etc.), security is perhaps the best reason to switch.


Analog signals can be intercepted by another analog receiver (like a corded phone plugged into a jack).  But digital signals are different.  You can’t plug an ethernet cord in and suddenly eavesdrop on computer traffic (unless you really know what you’re doing).  That’s because the traffic coming from a VoIP phone or other digital device is split into packets.  If analog is a river where anyone can step in, then digital is like a bunch of water balloons.  The packets are only supposed to “burst” for the intended receiver.

The trade-off for this privacy is that it is harder to share a line on digital VoIP phone service.  You can do three-way or conference calling, but picking up the phone and joining a call is different.  Not that it can’t be done, but it often depends on the type of phones you have and how you want them to operate.  So that’s something to keep in mind.


Luckily, changing phone providers is trivial.  When we port a number, for example, we often forward calls from the existing number to a temporary one we set up.  Then we set outgoing calls to show the main number.  What this means is that new customers get to try before they buy without any risk.  No one outside knows that your phone service has changed; and if VoIP service does not work out for any reason, the calls can be unforwarded so everything goes back to how it was.

If that still sounds complicated, please just trust us that it is all actually very simple.

To sum up, if you know or think you are still using analog phone service, please consider switching to a VoIP service provider.  Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be us, but we would still be happy to talk about the switching process if you contact us.  Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!


Creating Free CDR Reports for Asterisk

icon-bar-chart-o How to Create Free CDR Reports for Asterisk

For a long time, we suffered with buggy third-party visualizers and statistic engines specifically made for Asterisk’s call detail records.  Then one day we decided to build our own.

This post is intended to help anyone who has been in the same situation.



We used Asterisk’s built-in cdr_mysql and had it write call records to a Cloud SQL instance on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).  You don’t have to do this, but we found it to be the easiest option since we’ll be using Google Data Studio to generate our reports, tables, charts, and graphs.

If you prefer, you could also use something like Metabase.  And Data Studio will work with PostgreSQL or an uploaded CSV file if you don’t like MySQL.

We won’t go into detail about connecting Asterisk’s CDR to an SQL database.  There are plenty of tutorials out there for that.  Just make sure you have a functioning database before you proceed.

We also won’t show you how to build every report.  We’ll do one to get started and you can play with the tools to build others.  It’s all pretty simple, though we did have to tell Data Studio how to interpret some data, as well as create variables that Asterisk doesn’t create on its own.



First thing we need to do is go to Google Data Studio and start a new blank report.



To proceed, you’ll have to agree to Google’s terms and opt out of some marketing emails.

After that, you’ll see a mostly blank screen.

Click on “CREATE NEW DATA SOURCE” at the bottom right.



The next screen will have a grid of different data selectors.

If your CDR is hosted on Cloud SQL, choose “Google Cloud Storage”.

Otherwise, you’ll probably be choosing MySQL or PostgreSQL.



Google will make you authorize access to data in Google Drive, just in case you choose to use that.

For the next step we’re going to pretend you chose a generic MySQL database hosted somewhere.



Enter all the credentials of your database and click the “AUTHENTICATE” button.

Assuming it connects and you agree to any popups Google throws at you, you should come to a screen like the one below.


But we need to take a little detour before we build a report.





Before we make a report, we need to go back and look at our data fields.

Go back to the navigation home and click on “Data Sources”.



You should only have the one data source, so click that.

That will bring you to a screen like the one below.



Don’t worry that we have functions you don’t (the fx icons).  We’ll get to those in a second.

First, make sure you change the Type for “duration” and “calldate”.

As you’ll see above, they need to be changed to “Duration (sec.)” and “Date Hour (YYYYMMDDHH)” respectively.

Once that’s done, click on “Add A Field” in the top right.



We’re going to name this “Date” and the Formula will be: TODATE(calldate, DEFAULT_DASH, %Y%m%d)

Its Type will be “Date (YYYYMMDD)”.

Got all that?  Good!  Let’s go build a dang report!




Let’s go back to your Untitled Report, or start a new blank report.  Whatever gets you to this screen again:



We’re going to make a simple chart that shows our cumulative call duration per day for all calls.  We will also add a date control, but no other filters.  You can add an accountcode filter later if you want to examine duration per day per customer.

Let’s add the date control first.  Click on the “Date Range” icon in the toolbar.



I like to move the date control to the top right, so that’s where you’ll see mine.  Feel free to move/resize it however you like.

With the new date control selected, click the “Auto Date Range” drop-down.  It should be on the right side of the screen.



When the calendar appears, click the new “Auto Date Range” drop-down at the top right.

Again, feel free to select whatever default date range you want.  For this tutorial, we’ll select “Last 7 days” and check the “Include today” checkbox.  This means that when we open this unnamed report, it will only show data from the last week, including the current day, until we change the date range in our date control box.

I wrote this post on Dec. 14, 2018.  So my date range shows today and the six days before it.



Time to add our chart.  Click on “Add a chart” in the toolbar, then click the first “Time series” chart.



Again, I have resized and moved my chart.  Feel free to position and size yours however you want.

As you’ll see above, my chart defaulted to the right dates, but it is showing some strange cost metric that I don’t care about right now.  Let’s fix that.



Ignore my Data Source.  I’m using Cloud SQL, so it’s probably different from yours.  Make sure your Date Range Dimension and Time Dimension both have the date field we created earlier.

The Metric needs to be changed if it is not on “duration”.  Click the Metric field and change it to “duration”.



Finally, let’s check the Type again for our Dimensions and for our Metric.  The little icon to the left of the fields will let you see what those are.



Click the icon next to the field underneath the Date Range Dimension, the Time Dimension, and the Metric.  It will pop up a dialogue like the following:



Make sure the Types are the following:

For the fields under “Date Range Dimension” and “Time Dimension”, both need to be “Date (YYYYMMDD)”.

The “duration” field under “Metric” needs to be “Duration (sec.)”.

If you’ve done all that, you should have something like this:



(Note: I’ve secretly filtered my chart so it’s not showing our entire call duration.  Your daily call durations are hopefully much larger!)

Great!  We have a working chart!  Does it look a little boring, though?  Again, we won’t go into this much here, but you can style everything to your liking by selecting an object and clicking the “STYLE” tab on the right side.



After some easy styling changes, my chart now looks like the one below.  Don’t worry if you didn’t change your styling.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like.



Much better!  We can see data points, the x-axis is labeled, and the objects stand out from the background.

At this point, we should rename our report so it’s easy to find later.  Click on “Untitled Report” in the top left and enter a new name for your chart.  I chose “Tutorial Chart” for mine.

Once you’ve renamed your chart, click the “VIEW” button in the top right.






The “View” mode is for seeing and interacting with the charts once you’ve built them.  Notice that you can hover over data points, change the date range, and that the whole thing is now an interactive call detail report.  Pretty cool!

Really quickly, let’s look at this refresh button in the top right.



The “Refresh data” button will update your chart.  Our charts can sometimes take 10+ seconds to refresh since our SQL instance isn’t very powerful.  Your charts will automatically refresh if you’ve been away from them for a while (we’re not sure how many minutes).  If you’re looking for a call that you know just happened, you’ll be clicking that refresh button.

There is also a Chrome extension that auto refreshes for you, but we haven’t used it.  One day, we’ll have a big screen on the wall with real-time calling charts, but today isn’t that day.

And that’s about it!  Feel free to stop reading here.  The rest will just be our final thoughts and an example of what we’ve built.



We wanted to show you a report we built after we’d been using Data Studio for a few weeks.



(Note: again, we have filtered our data so it only shows a slice of our calling — we also edited out the Account Code and Call Cost entries.)

Notice that we can see all our calls, calling charts, total call minutes, and we even calculated a per-second cost to give us a rough idea of how much the call minutes costs us.  And the best part is we can filter all this data by any date range or account code we want!  We can see details on every accountcode in our system!

Hopefully that gives you an idea of the power of Data Studio.  It’s definitely not perfect, but it’s way better than our previous CDR Reporting software.

Good luck building your own reports!  And if you happen to live in Indiana, take a moment to check out our business phone service!

Indy Business: Best Internet in Indy

icon-exchange Indy Business: Best Business Internet in Indianapolis

One of the questions we get asked most is: “Who is the best internet service provider in Indianapolis?”  Or sometimes business owners ask us: “Which internet service should I be using?”  The answer to these questions depends on the business size, its location, and the complexity of their technology; but we can start out with an easy general statement.

Local is better.

If you happen to be in a section of Indianapolis where there is a local fiber internet provider, we recommend going with them.  Anything you do to avoid the big cable and phone companies is good for you, good for competition, and ultimately good for Indy.

A great example of a local fiber internet company is Metronet.  Great service, good prices, and they’re local.  Win, win, win.

My choices are Big Company A or Big Company B.

For the rest of us, business internet service is going to come from a cable or phone company.  When those are the only choices, we almost always recommend going with cable internet.  The customer service isn’t any better than the phone companies in our experience, but you usually get more internet service for the same price.

The actual name of the cable company doesn’t matter much either.  Cable companies choose not to compete with each other so they can keep charging monopoly prices.  Whoever the cable provider is in your area, they’re likely the only one, and they’re likely to stay that way.

Should I bundle?

If you don’t have any other option, then sure, go for the bundle.  But you almost always have other options!  Even with local fiber companies, bundling may cost you more than going with a company that specializes in business phone service.  Go with services where the company has to work to keep your business, not where you’re locked into a bundle.

As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.  We help businesses navigate tech questions every day, and we can help you too!