Inter-Asterisk eXchange Protocol
The format for the dialing string on Asterisk is:
(Note, 's denote optional fields). The peer is either an IP address
or a peer as specified in the /etc/asterisk/iax.conf file. Exten is
an optional requested extension (otherwise "s" will be used), and
"context" is an optional context to request. The user is an optional
username specified in the peer's iax.conf. If the user is not specified,
the peer will select one.
Protocol and rationale:
IAX is a simple, low overhead and low bandwidth VoIP protocol designed to
allow multiple Asterisk PBX's to communicate with one another without
the overhead of more complex protocols like H.323. Payload is sent with
a header overhead of only 4 octets. Control functions (and one payload packet
per minute or so) is sent with a more complex header of 12 octets.
IAX is slightly stateful.
IAX contains two kinds of packets: The full header packet type, which
contains much information about the frame, in addition to its contents,
and the mini header type, which is used only for non-reliable voice
All packets are immediately transmitted. Packets are received, but not
delivered to the actual channels until a given time quantum has passed, in
order to try to eliminate jitter.
All full header packets must be ackd (except, obviously for the ACK packets
themselves and not so obviously for hangup packets). The "timestamp" field of
ack packets is not the normal offset, but rather a quote of the timestamp as
included with the original packet that you're acking, and likewise the
seqno field is the seqno of the packet you're acking, not your own seqno,
and you do not increment your own sequence number. ACKing is based on the
See iax.h for a description of the frame formats.
IAX internal frames use the AST_FRAME_IAX type. The subclass of these
frames is the IAX control number, as seen in iax.h. The first frame sent
must be an AST_FRAME_IAX with the control AST_IAX_CONTROL_NEW.
The AST_IAX_CONTROL_NEW establishes a new connection.
The first frame sent MUST be an AST_CONTROL_NEW to start a connection.
IAX connnections may require authentication using either simple plaintext
passwords or an md5 challenge/response pair.