PhreakNet, n. 1. A unique collectors', phreaks', and switchers' telephone network 2. A community of telephony enthusiasts engaging in the present to preserve the past for the future 3. a historical recreation of the mid-20th century North American phone network.
PhreakNet is the world's most authentic, feature-rich switched and simulated recreation of the mid-20th century North American phone network. PhreakNet allows for seamless time-travel into the past — by telephone, that is! PhreakNet connects old switching equipment together, but it's also much more than that. It's people connected to each other, and to the past. It's a unique experience, and it doesn't exist in any one place — it reaches out through every telephone set on the network to touch the lives of its members.
Core Values & Tenets
PhreakNet is a network, but it's ultimately a network connecting people together. Several core values are central to everything comprising PhreakNet:
- Preservation — PhreakNet embraces the historian in all of us. PhreakNet is a living recreation of the mid-20th century North American phone network, and as such, its members dedicate significant time and energy to both historical research and modern-day preservation. PhreakNet is the intersection of cool yesteryear's technology and today's cutting edge technology. The network aims to preserve the PSTN, historically and recently. Museums can help their exhibits come alive by tapping into the resources PhreakNet has to provide.
- Quality & Service — PhreakNet offers an unparallelled variety of network services, all with the goal of connecting its members to the times of yore and tomorrow simultaneously. We believe in doing things right, doing them in style, setting the highest standards, and aiming for the highest accuracy, usability, and quality. We don't cut corners or sacrifice authenticity.
- Innovation — One constant at PhreakNet is continuous improvement. New features and capabilities are always being added to the network. The glory days of the U.S. phone network may be getting more distant, but they are becoming more and more fleshed out on PhreakNet with each passing day. We're a community of tinkerers, creators, and innovators, always asking "What more?" and "What next?". We don't let barriers get in our way. Combining relays, AI, and machine learning is a regular occurence in the PhreakNet community. We frequently push Asterisk to the bounds of what it was designed to do, and when we exceed them, we contribute features and bug fixes to Asterisk that improve it for everyone.
- Security — Security is built in to everything part of PhreakNet. It's not just an IT buzzword — it's essential to making sure our members have the best possible experience and that network interference is eliminated. PhreakNet was designed from the ground up with modern security in mind, and rigorous security practices have allowed us to enjoy this hobby without disruption.
- Community — PhreakNet is a community comprised of its members. The network is entirely community-run by volunteers, investing their own time and money into it. The Board of Directors is responsible for engaging the community, coordinating ongoing and future improvements to the network, and ensuring consistencies. PhreakNet operators, comprised of volunteers, connect members together the old-fashioned way — with a human touch.
- Education — We believe that knowledge is meant to be shared. The PhreakNet Docs is a good starting point for newcomers to Asterisk, written in an easy-to-understand way, to make Asterisk a less duanting prospect. PhreakNet is a collaborative community where we can all learn from and teach each other, so discussion of topics on the mailing list is also encouraged.
For further information, please reference the Community Guidelines.
What is PhreakNet?
First of all, what is PhreakNet not? It's not a way to make free phone calls from point A to point B. It's not a common carrier public telecom provider. That's what the PSTN is for. If you came here looking for a free way to call Timbuktu, you came to the wrong place.
PhreakNet is a VoIP phone network that ties new and vintage telephone switching systems together, connecting telephone collectors, phreaks, and enthusiasts. PhreakNet is a cutting edge network to facilitate yesterday's and tomorrow's communications needs. Bell System Practices are frequently referenced in the PhreakNet community, but documentation of all flavors is also a useful reference.
Here are just a few of the attributes of the network:
- 24/7 network operator services — human-powered, backed by automation
- Secure, high-integrity API-based call routing
- Automatic Route Selection and Alternate Routing
- MF, SF, and "SS7" signaling protocols
- StepNet (call tandeming)
- 1970s mock ticketing (billing) system
- AUTOVON recreation using MLPP, based on Bell System specifications
- Coin trunks — designed to bring real payphones to life!
- Distinctive ringing cadences — your phone wasn't made to ring just one way!
- Party lines (2-party and 4-party)
- "Party line" conferences
- Manual service for magneto phones
- Telegrams via email and telephone.
- Centralized test numbers and features
- Electromechanical switch simulation (crosstalk, virtual announcment drums)
- Extensive 200+ page documentation, great for novices and experts alike.
- Internal PhreakNet System Practices specifications to explain internal network concepts and document network practices.