Indy Business: Customers’ Favorite Features

icon-phone-square Indy Business: Our Customers’ Favorite Features

We’ve learned a few things from talking with our Indianapolis phone service customers. Unfortunately, we don’t have any hard data to back up everything we’re about to say; but we can confidently state that our customers seem to use all the features we offer, and there are certainly some features that people tend to mention more or seem to find more useful.

We wanted to take a moment to look at those features.


This is an obvious favorite for obvious reasons. Everyone (us included) hates receiving unwanted calls. It’s even worse when you’re receiving spam calls to your work phone where you can’t download an app to block them, which is why we offer to block unwanted calls before they even reach your phone.

But not only do we block the call from bothering you, we make the spammer think your number has been disconnected. This leads to fewer spam calls over time and is good for everyone. Except the spammers of course. Again, it’s obvious why this is a customer favorite.


So many places don’t offer you a choice when you’re picking a new phone number. They may offer you a sequence of numbers if you need two or more phone lines, but there’s no guarantee that those numbers will be easy to remember or fit your business.

We always thought it made sense to give people a choice on what number would fit them best, and our customers seem to appreciate it. Not only that, but we’ve found that our customers also appreciate being offered numbers not intended for the public. Many of our customers have secret numbers they use for their own internal purposes. Sometimes it’s as simple as calling a person directly, and sometimes the custom number is more complex. It just depends on what works best for the client.


As much as we hate to admit it, this feature isn’t exactly ours. In fact, we didn’t even realize we offered it until a customer asked us why theirs wasn’t working at the moment. As it turns out, the business office phones we prefer have built-in weather updates. The phones show updated local weather data as long as they have a working internet connection. Anyway, it’s a smart feature, people like it, and we’re glad we can “offer” it!

Of course, every customer is unique and will prefer the feature(s) they utilize most, but we still wanted to share some insights we’ve noticed over the past couple years. If you have any questions about our features or what we offer, feel free to contact us anytime.

Have a great day!

Indy Business: Cloud Phone System?

icon-cloud Indy Business: What is a Cloud Phone System?

What makes a cloud-based phone system or service different than the old analog phone systems? There’s a tendency in today’s tech to just add the word “cloud” onto everything, but in the case of our phone systems, they really are powered by the cloud. Because of that, the service offers some exciting differences from your typical business phone service.


The biggest difference with a hosted or cloud-based phone service is that your phone line and features don’t just live in one location. Sure, you can still have a dedicated office desk phone, but the calls going to that phone can be routed to a cell phone, a software phone, or any number or device you can think of.

The easiest way to think about it is to imagine phone service that behaves more like your email. You might access your email from your office, then your smartphone, and also have your emails handy on a tablet when you’re relaxing later that night. Similarly, cloud phone service is there when you need it and gone when you don’t.


One of the big benefits of a cloud phone system is you don’t need your fancy desk phone to handle all those features. Everything comes along with you, no matter which device you use. You can do 3-way calling and conference calling, your voicemails can be sent to your email, and you can even speed dial your co-workers when you’re sitting on your back porch.

Or, for those of us who like to unwind after work, you can send all your calls to voicemail at 4:59 PM!


Hopefully this has helped clarify what a cloud-based business phone system is and how it behaves. If you have any more questions or want to try it out for yourself, feel free to contact us anytime.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Indy Business: How Much Bandwidth?

icon-exchange Indy Business: How Much Bandwidth Do I Need?

It’s 2019 and people are using more internet than ever before, so one of the questions we get asked a lot is: “How much speed or bandwidth does my business really need?”

The answer to that question is not going to be the same for everyone, of course.   Some businesses and offices are going to use more bandwidth than others, and if you have surveillance cameras or business VoIP traffic, that will only increase your network traffic.

Let’s take a look at some different considerations that can help you predict what speeds you’ll need.


There are still small businesses who mainly browse the web and use email, but that is becoming increasingly rare.  For most businesses, they will need to do some kind of file sharing; they will subscribe to a cloud backup service; they will do occasional video conferencing; and their computers will need to download regular security updates for operating systems and applications. Each of these can and will increase the amount of bandwidth needed at any given moment.

The good news is that there is quick and dirty equation we can use to estimate bandwidth usage. But we want to stress that this isn’t perfect and many businesses may need more internet because of their network load. Still, it should get you in the ballpark of what’s acceptable for 2019.


For today’s needs we think a good rule of thumb is to start with at least 10 Mbps and add five more Mbps for each user. So for a business with 10 employees who all have IP phones, smartphones, and some kind of work computer, you would want at least 60 Mbps. Again, this is not guaranteed to work for everyone. Some businesses will not need that much, and some will need more.


If you still aren’t sure how much bandwidth you need, we actually suggest going a little low to start out. The big cable and phone companies will be glad to upgrade your service if necessary, but they’re not always as willing to downgrade unfortunately.

You can also contact us to help determine your internet needs. We’ve helped a lot of businesses optimize their bandwidth strategies, and our business phone service can be configured to work with almost any internet connection. Thanks for taking the time to read our thoughts, and we hope to hear from you!

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!

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!