PathDaemon

Identifying/Researching a College PBX

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I've recently arrived at college, and it's the first time I've "lived with" a large phone system. Naturally, I've been furiously exploring its capabilities and would love to identify the system and (best case scenario) find a manual of sorts that goes into more detail than how to access voicemail.

I started at the school's helpdesk page. While plenty of information is to be found, it all seems to exist in a closed loop of universities. Searching for any terms or phrases on the internet yielded only other university helpdesks and user guides. For example, the phones are all given model numbers prefixed "ITE-", with the next two or three characters being, basically, a description of capability. For example, the "ITE-12sd" has 12 programmable keys, a speakerphone capability, and a display. Someone here must know what ITE refers to and of these universally-accepted shenanigans with obfuscation of phone model information.

Here are other details I've picked up: Students are all given basic, analog telephones. No function keys or voicemail indicators. The outer ring of numbers (i.e. all but 2, 5, 8, and 0) are labelled with * and # functions. The label appears to be somewhat old and not all functions remain. Pressing 1 (for outside dialing) gives a higher-pitched dial tone (I can attempt to provide frequencies if it'd be useful). When a call is ended or a function is dialed improperly, a busy signal immediately sounds. The line never "disconnects" with that satisfying series of clicks we're all used to. Feedback during multi-step processes (ex. programming abbreviated dialing) is given as one or more beeps. If the switchhook is flashed during a call, the system generates (very basic, nearly unintelligable) the speech "ENTER, ENTER, ENTER" and a function or extension can be dialed. I've also heard "INVALID, INVALID, INVALID" for an invalid extension and "HOLD, HOLD, HOLD" when picking up with a held call.

I'd take almost anything at this point. I heard from someone who has worked with the system that there are functions for identifying a line's jack number an extension number — #102 and #103 are my best guesses at recalling them, but I haven't been able to find the proper sequences without getting stuck in some transfer or hold function or triggering the busy signal disconnect. Those would be useful. I'd love to be pointed toward a brand and model, and a PDF manual would be ideal. I'm not looking to own the system, just curious. I'd be indebted to anyone who can explain how many of the traits of this system are referenced only by other universities and always with the same level of obscurity.

I'm probably being a bit thick here; the answer may well be obvious to some people here with experience with a quarter of the useless details I gave above, but no amount of research seems to be setting me on any productive track.

I'll apologize now for any incoherence and/or rambling. I need to get to sleep.

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Have you found a voicemail system of any kind? I can't find anything based on the information you've given. Is there any situation where you hear a human voice other than the "Enter, Enter, Enter," "Invalid, Invalid, Invalid," and "Hold, Hold, Hold" situations you've described? If you can find a voicemail system you might be able to find another place where you hear a voice. If you can, write down, word-for-word what is said at some of the voicemail prompts, or any prompt you can find really. Yeah, I couldn't figure it out either based on the information provided.

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Try pressing *40. If it gives you three bursts of dialtone when you enter your extension, it's a Merlin. There's some ways to tell if it's, say, a Meridian or not, or even a Vodavi PBX, but I can't remember them off the top of my head. I'll have to review my recordings sometime and check. It doesn't sound like anything I'm familiar with, though. Can you provide some recordings? If there's any * or # codes (or if it just gives you a reorder immediately when you press either button), those would help quite a bit, too.

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Have you found a voicemail system of any kind? I can't find anything based on the information you've given. Is there any situation where you hear a human voice other than the "Enter, Enter, Enter," "Invalid, Invalid, Invalid," and "Hold, Hold, Hold" situations you've described? If you can find a voicemail system you might be able to find another place where you hear a voice. If you can, write down, word-for-word what is said at some of the voicemail prompts, or any prompt you can find really. Yeah, I couldn't figure it out either based on the information provided.

I pressed an invalid option at a menu and received a message stating, "I did not recognize that as a valid entry. Hello! Cisco Unity Messaging System. From a touch-tone telephone you may dial an extension at any time. For a directory of extensions, press 4." I do have a voice mailbox on the system, but it doesn't seem worth transcribing anything else — this service, as well as all of the few IVR menus on the system, is clearly Cisco. But I believe that this was an addition to an existing phone system, and I still have no leads on that.

Try pressing *40. If it gives you three bursts of dialtone when you enter your extension, it's a Merlin. There's some ways to tell if it's, say, a Meridian or not, or even a Vodavi PBX, but I can't remember them off the top of my head. I'll have to review my recordings sometime and check. It doesn't sound like anything I'm familiar with, though. Can you provide some recordings? If there's any * or # codes (or if it just gives you a reorder immediately when you press either button), those would help quite a bit, too.

As I mentioned above, there are single digit codes assigned to many of the numbers on the keypad. *4 is hold, and if I enter it at a dial tone I get a reorder after the 4.

I made a little recorded demo. Here's the walkthrough:

  1. Called the main internal IVR (for voicemail, directory and the like) using abbreviated dialing (#4+0)
  2. Flashed the line when it picked up, triggering the "ENTER" prompt
  3. Entered *4 to hold and reset the line (if this is the proper term)
  4. Responded to the HELD prompt with *4 again and was returned to the IVR
  5. Flashed the line and allowed the simulated dial tone after the ENTER prompt to time out (the system cut off the third INVALID, that wasn't me. I've also heard it drop an ENTER and only state it twice before going to the fake dial tone.)
  6. Attempted dialing another extension and, failing that, flashed the line twice (back to the IVR, then to a fresh ENTER prompt)
  7. Dialed a nonexistent extension (not in service message followed by reorder)
  8. Reset the line and dialed an inapplicable function (#1 - conference) (reorder)

That do anything for ya -_- ? Thanks for the assistance.

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Yeah, that's definitely not equipment I've ever touched before. If you still have a raw copy somewhere, though, would you mind re-encoding that at something closer to, say, 80 kbps mp3 sampled at 32000 hz? In it's current state, it can be quite hard to understand, and even a little painful to listen to :) . As for the IVR and voicemail systems, I'd have to say it's almost positively a retrofit. I can't see Cisco trying to sell some PBX contraption that sounds like a DATU in today's world, and getting flourishing sales. The IVR might've been designed specifically to work with your PBX, though, because generally, a lot of manufacturers like to make their digital phones all uber proprietary to lock you into using their equipment. Then again, it could be using analog lines on your PBX, and just be configured to press a certain sequence to transfer people, or something like that. If anybody has more information on Cisco telephony products, or a manual somewhere, please don't hesitate to share it.

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Yeah, that's definitely not equipment I've ever touched before. If you still have a raw copy somewhere, though, would you mind re-encoding that at something closer to, say, 80 kbps mp3 sampled at 32000 hz? In it's current state, it can be quite hard to understand, and even a little painful to listen to :) .

Assuming we're hearing the same thing, is there anything specific that you're referring to as hard to understand or painful? The voice prompts are nearly unintelligible as-is, but I admit that this recording was made rather hastily and the raw files don't sound much better. Is there a method you'd recommend for making recordings in the future (or remaking this one)? Should I dig up an isolation transformer, find an induction tap, or use some other device I'm not thinking of?

As for the IVR and voicemail systems, I'd have to say it's almost positively a retrofit. I can't see Cisco trying to sell some PBX contraption that sounds like a DATU in today's world, and getting flourishing sales. The IVR might've been designed specifically to work with your PBX, though, because generally, a lot of manufacturers like to make their digital phones all uber proprietary to lock you into using their equipment. Then again, it could be using analog lines on your PBX, and just be configured to press a certain sequence to transfer people, or something like that.

I'm convinced that it's a retrofit — and not an elegant one. All IVRs I've encountered appear to be handled by the Cisco system, as dialing an invalid menu option triggers the "Hello! Cisco Unity…" message. At that point, it states that you can dial any extension, but crazily enough any extension without a voice mailbox returns "I did not recognize that as a valid entry…" If the extension does have a mailbox, you're transferred immediately to it — the extension never rings. That makes the whole directory feature rather useless.

Therefore, our PBX could still be anything at this point, as the Cisco Unity system (which, looking through datasheets, appears to be a Windows computer with a few extra PCI cards) is barely integrated.

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There's another way you could approach this. Find out who manages the PBX, and ask them about it. See if they're interested in chatting about it. Or look around, and try and find the telco room.

Also, is this:

<a href="http://www.temple.edu/cs/telecommunications/single.htm" target="_blank">http://www.temple.edu/cs/telecommunications/single.htm</a>

the same type of setup you have at your school?

Oh BTW ITE phones are now Aastra, as far as I know.

Could you tell me if the following happens:

Ringing tones: One ring for internal callers, two rings for outside callers, three rings for priority calls.

Handset tones:

- Call Waiting Tone: one, two or three beeps (not repeated) for internal, outside, and priority calls.

-

Edited by unity
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Therefore, our PBX could still be anything at this point, as the Cisco Unity system (which, looking through datasheets, appears to be a Windows computer with a few extra PCI cards) is barely integrated.

It could be the other way round, in that Cisco Call Manager/Unity is driving the bulk of the system over a VoIP based infrastructure and that they off-loaded the old analogue system to provide simple service to the outlying areas such as student dorms with effectively one huge ATA linking them into Call Manager.

Check out what the departmently offices are using... I'm guessing you'll see Cisco IP phones on every desk.

Not absolutely sure, but I think Unity is the unified messaging system (voice mails available via exchange) rather that just the simple 'Call Manager' voicemail system.

Are analogue phones internal only, or can you get an outside line?

Mungewell.

PS. Call Manager has some quite nice web interfaces for setting all manner of things... nice area to play with.

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PS. Call Manager has some quite nice web interfaces for setting all manner of things... nice area to play with.

URL will be something like:

https://ccmpub/ccmuser/logon.asp

http://unity1.xxxxxxx.xxx/ciscopca/logon.do

Voicemail 'map' attached.

Once you know what IP the server is sitting on you can start downloading (via tftp) the configs for phones etc.. to work out how they have configured the system. This info is available on the IP handsets under 'Menu/settings/Network settings'.

If they've done it right then you won't be able to access it, as access *should* be limited to vlan that the phones run on.

Munge.

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This sounds very much like the PBX used at my college. Mine had ITE4/12/12SD phones, and phrases before the dialtone if certain features were activated. The PBX switch was called the Intecom E. My college put the ITE4 digital phone in the residence hall rooms, so I had a phone with 4 special function buttons, and did not hear touch tones when dialing, just short beeps. The voice mail system was Octel.

As for codes to try dialing, I won't repeat the many manuals found online for the basic features, but there are some interesting codes that start with #* out there.

#*112 was the ringer test number.

#*113 was the number readback service

#*119 would tell you what circuit your line came out of.

Other *#1xx codes would say a few numbers, but I did not know what they were for.

#*200 to about #*220 would provide all the various dialtones, ring tones, busy tones, and some special dial tones with words and phrases. You can actually cycle through the tones once you have dialed a #*2xx number by re-dialing the last 2 digits. Invalid codes will give a reorder, and *#204 was a milliwatt test tone, which was impossible to break out of from an analog phone.

I have a few recording fragments of this system that I could post if you want to hear them.

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This sounds very much like the PBX used at my college. Mine had ITE4/12/12SD phones, and phrases before the dialtone if certain features were activated. The PBX switch was called the Intecom E.

...

I won't repeat the many manuals found online for the basic features, but there are some interesting codes that start with #* out there.

Yes! This is definitely it. Now, I'll still look around for how it's relating to the Cisco system (by the way, I have attempted to log in to the Unity box, and get the amusing basic auth prompt "Please Authenticate to RUMP"... if I can find an unattended VoIP phone I'll take a look at the config filename) and might try to get in touch with telecom people, but a hearty thanks to you, El Jefe.

Now, I did see the Intercom E system mentioned once in a chart about phone/pbx compatibility, but was wholly unable to find any other information about it and gave up on the lead. Could you point me toward one of those "many manuals"? Maybe I'm just not yet familiar with the known repositories around here, but I have no clue where to look.

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...

Could you point me toward one of those "many manuals"? Maybe I'm just not yet familiar with the known repositories around here, but I have no clue where to look.

I searched for ITE4 and mostly found college web sites explaining phone features. This Site (RPI) has sections for the ITE4 and for analog phones, explaining all the * and # coded features. The difference between the digital ITE4 phone and an analog phone is that the 4 special buttons are replaced with flashing the hookswitch and dialing * codes. The college I went to (WSU) offers similar information. This other site (U of MN) even mentions the #*112 and #*113 codes.

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I searched for ITE4 and mostly found college web sites explaining phone features.

Ah, right. What I was more curious about was the Intercom E system itself — service and otherwise technical manuals, and why there didn't seem to be information about it outside of college helpdesk websites.

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