Asterisk’s Popularity Continues to Grow

December 17, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you know all about Asterisk’s meteoric rise to national acclaim. The open source telephony platform, originally constructed by Mark Spencer to avoid paying an ungodly sum of money for a telephone system, just recently turned nine years old – and shows no signs of slowing down.

According to a release published this morning, Asterisk has been downloaded over 1.5 million times in 2008 – the highest one year total ever. Oh – and that number is more than 50 percent of last years number.

Perhaps what is most intriguing about this announcement is not the fact that Asterisk has been downloaded 1.5 million times in 2008 – but the fact that the number could be substantially larger in 2009. Why?

  • You might not have noticed, but the economy sucks. People love free and when you have little money – a DIY Asterisk deployment starts looking a little more realistic.
  • Asterisk truly is a more then a phone system. Thanks to it’s flexibility, folks are now embracing the platform as a way to create voicemail systems, conference bridges and gateways among other things.
  • The community continues to grow. The community is as active and involved today, as it was in 2003 when I first start working with it.
  • Digium is doing the right things. It is not easy balancing the needs of a for-profit business with that of a open source project, but to date Digium continues to work diligently to ensure that when one side wins, so to does the other.

Now open source isn’t for everyone. However it is continuing to gain acceptance with customers at all levels – and I bet you’d have a hard time naming too many others in this space who can lay claim to the fact that their software got into the hands of over 1.5 million people in 2008.

How’s that for proof that open source is a viable solution?


  • As does FreeSWITCH. Check it out. FreeSWITCH can now support G.722.1 and G722.1C out of the box and works with the Polycom IP 6000. FreeSWITCH also supports CELT at 48kHz… so you can do CD Quality VoIP.


  • Asterisk has done something else for the open source community: it has started the “telephony revolution” mentioned by the authors of the “Starfish” book, aka TFOT. This revolution can be seen in other telephony and telephony-related projects. How many of these projects have become mainstream thanks to the spearhead of Asterisk? Pretty much all of them.

    I highly recommend Asterisk users look at the ecosystem that Asterisk has helped create. A ridiculously cool project that is part of the revolution is FreeSWITCH. Check it out! You’ll be glad you did and you will gain a new appreciation for the seeds sown by the Asterisk phenomenon.

  • Garrett Smith

    @ Brian and Michael:

    I certainly agree that FreeSWITCH is an emerging player in this space, although I think to truly take the next step, the folks behind the project need to:

    1. A slick web GUI (co-brand the phone booth one)

    2. An appliance or at least work with someone (like Rhino Equipment) to have a “box” to promote

    3. Build a toolkit and corresponding ecosystem around the software that gives service providers, enterprises and the community the ability to easily construct solutions. Instructions a plus.

    Again, I think it has a lot of upside and hear great things about it, but if it wants to usurp Asterisk, it will take more then just building a better platform.

  • Freeswitch is support G. 722.1

  • Zach Garcia

    I think it’s worth noting that it’s more than just companies who have been hit by the recession that are choosing Asterisk… Companies with money to spend are choosing Asterisk solutions over the Nortels and Avayas of the world for its cost effectiveness and feature set.

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