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Cisco SPA525G IP Phone (SIP) Configuration
 
My findings on how to install, upgrade and use the functions of the Cisco SPA252G IP Phone
 
By: Cas Mollien
Last modified on: 26 October 2011, 19:50h




 
The Cisco SPA series is a descendant of the Sipura SPA phones, legendary for their great cost/quality ratio. Sipura was acquired by Linksys who made a number of changes to the phones (most notably the interface overhaul). Then, when Cisco bought Linksys, a few Cisco-styled phones were produced under the Linksys SPA brand, which did not last. Cisco is now marketing the SPA series phones as their 'Small and Medium Business' line of phones.

Now, all SPA phones have that specific Cisco look-and-feel, but behind the screens they are still eerily similar to the old Sipuras. The web interface of the phones is the old Sipura interface, with a Linksys 'theme' and a Cisco logo.. :-) They are still very flexible in their configuration, as long as you are willing to speak the language.

Yes, this is important to know - If you use any auto-provisioning templates (such as within Trixbox), the Cisco provisioning is likely NOT to work. You'll have better luck with the Linksys or Sipura methods.



I just finished building a VoIP phone system with a series of Cisco SPA525G2 phones. The SPA525, SPA525G and SPA525G2 (only minor differences between them, the G also sports WiFi) are great phones and I would say that they are well worth the money over purchasing the older 79XX series phones, for most implementations. There are many advantages that the 525 offers: Bluetooth, allowing the phone to use a regular Bluetooth headset as well as using the phone as a handset/speakerphone for your cellphone. The use of a 2.5mm jack for a standard phone headset (Cisco, if you are reading this, why not a standard 3.5mm jack like most iPhones and Androids are using these days?), a color screen, the use of MP3 ring tones and the ability to set a custom background picture. There are many more, like using the phone as an MP3 player, but I don't see that as very practical.

My firmware version is 7.4.9a
Make sure you are running at least this version of the firmware, as I have seen problems with previous versions!


Provisioning
The phone can be provisioned in multiple ways:
1) On the phone itself (yuk)
2) Through the web interface. Look up the IP address of the phone (Settings -> Status -> Network Status) and connect to the IP address with your favorite browser.
3) Through an XML file, which can be fed to the phone through a web interface or over tftp.

Please note that if you autoprovision (option 3), it will overwrite all customizations that you have done through the phone or the web interface if they are defined in the config files.

Sidenote: I like to autoprovision. It gives me a standardized way of managing multiple phones and I don't have to run around, doing the same thing over-and-over on each individual phone. YMMV, but I highly recommend it if you are managing a system with multiple phones.

If you use auto provisioning, you will have to be able to set option 66 in your DHCP server. There are many how-to articles on how to set this up, it all depends on which DHCP server you are using. You have to point option 66 to the TFTP or Web server that you are using - Often this is the PBX system itself. To set up an easy TFTP server I normally use Solarwinds TFTP, which can be downloaded for free.

If you choose to provision over HTTP, you must include a variable so the phone gets its own, unique configuration file. The value for option 66 should be:



Where 'MyHTTPServer' is the server that is hosting your files, and 'MyProvisioningDirectory' is the path to the provisioning files. The $MA.xml tells the phone to download an XML-file, named after the MAC address ($MA) of the phone that is requesting it.

The problem with using this method for provisioning is that you are stuck using only phones that provision using HTTP by requesting a configuration file named $MA.xml. In a mixed environment, with some phones from other brands or with some 79XX-series phones as well, you are out of luck. This seems to be a limitation of the Sipura heritage, as the phones does not ask for a unique file by default, like other devices do.
Update: According to this YouTube video, if no path is set on the newer models, the phones will default to asking for a file called '/Cisco/$PN/$MA.xml', where $PN expands to the model number (SPA525G) and $MA expands to the lowercase MAC address. I have not tried this myself, but this would solve the issue I mentioned before.

Using additional line buttons as speed dials
I wish that this was as easy as on the 79xx series. Unfortunately, it is not. Here is what you do:
- In the web interface, go to 'Admin Login' and click 'Advanced'.
- Select the 'Phone' tab
- Under 'Line Key 3' (or any other line you want to use), set the following values (without the quotes, obviously):
  Extension: 'Disabled'
Short Name: 'Johnny Cell'
Share Call Appearance: 'Private'
Extended Function: 'fnc=sd;sub=5551234567@$PROXY;ext=5551234567@$PROXY' (where 5551234567 is the number or extension to call)
- Click 'Submit All Changes' on the bottom of the page

If you autoprovision 'Line Key 3' (per the example above), your changes will be overwritten by the generated config. To add this configuration to the XML file, configure the line key in the XML file as follows:



Using the additional line buttons as BLF indicators
The additional lines can be provisioned as Busy Lamp Field indicators. This means that it can be programmed to 'read' the status of an other extension and show if that extension is busy (on a conversation) or not.

Basically, the configuration is the same as with the speed dials, but the 'Extended Function' and the 'Share Call Appearance' are different:

- In the web interface, go to 'Admin Login' and click 'Advanced'.
- Select the 'Phone' tab
- Under 'Line Key 4' (or any other line you want to use), set the following values (without the quotes, obviously):
Extension: 'Disabled'
Short Name: 'Johnny'
Share Call Appearance: 'shared'
Extended Function: 'fnc=blf+sd+cp;sub=123@$PROXY;nme=Johnny' (where 123 is Johnny's extension)
- Click 'Submit All Changes' on the bottom of the page

If you autoprovision 'Line Key 4' (per the example above), your changes will be overwritten by the generated config. To add this configuration to the XML file, configure the line key in the XML file as follows:



If you are connected to an Asterisk-based server, make sure to configure the phone to expect Asterisk-type BLF. You do this under the 'ATT Console'-tab where you put in the 'Server Type' as 'Asterisk' and set the 'Attendant Console Call Pickup Code' to match the Asterisk call pickup code. The cool thing is that the line now ALSO functions like a speed-dial button.



Custom Media
In order to use a USB drive to upload media to the phone, it has to:
- Be a 'single partition usb device'. Multi-card readers or phones that present multiple drives when plugged in, will not work.
- Be uploaded in a specific directory for the media itself.
Make sure that you use a USB drive that can properly connect. The USB slot is slightly recessed and I found that my extremely small USB drive could not slide in deep enough to make proper contact (no jokes about the size of my drive, please).

Custom Ringtones
You can use any MP3 ringtone that you can you can find. However, there are size limitations. While I have not found the maximum size, I did manage to crash the phone when I tried using a 75MB podcast as a ringtone.. :-)

Create a directory in the root of the thumbdrive called 'mp3' and place your ringtones in there. Plug the USB drive in the USB slot on the top of the phone.

Now, configure the Ringtone Selection using the phone itself:
- Press 'Setup' -> 'User Preferences' (option 6) -> 'Audio Preferences' (Option 2)
- Scroll down to the extension you want to define and press the right arrow key to go to the 'Select Ring Tone' screen
- Select the 'FromUsb' softkey and the phone will automatically check the USB key's 'MP3' directory
- Browse through the ringtones and press 'Install' to choose the one you like
- IMPORTANT: Press 'Set' to save your selection

Exit the menu by pressing 'Back' and 'Exit', or by pressing the setting buttons.



Custom Backgrounds (wallpaper)
The SPA525G can display any size JPG image (with a maximum color depth of 32bit), just remember that the phone's screen is only 320x240 pixels. My advice; don't go crazy and upload the latest picture from your brand new 20 Megapixel super camera to it, without editing it. The phone has limited memory and putting a picture of that size in there is just not smart, mmmkay? Just resize the picture to 320x240 an you should be fine.

UntesteI found this note somewhere but have not tested it: The image files must be between 30K and 300K in size the phone will be able to read 45 images from the USB device.

Create a directory in the root of the thumbdrive called 'pictures' and place your pictures in there. Plug the USB drive in the USB slot on the top of the phone.

Now, configure the Wallpaper Selection using the phone itself:
- Press 'Setup' -> 'User Preferences' (option 6) -> 'Screen Preferences' (Option 3)
- Scroll down to Wallpaper, press the right arrow key to go to the 'Select an Image' screen
- The phone will automatically check the USB key's 'pictures' directory
- Browse through the images and press 'Select' to choose the one you like
- IMPORTANT: Press 'Set' to save your selection

Exit the menu by pressing 'Back' and 'Exit', or by pressing the setting buttons.
 


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