Michael McNamara Reports on UCX50 Test Evaluation

Over two years ago I started hearing about a company called E-MetroTel that was based in Texas and was working on an IP based Unified Communications solution that could interoperate with SIP phones from manufacturers such as Aastra, Avaya, Cisco and Polycom among many others. Supporting multiple SIP handsets wasn’t revolutionary in the least so why the excitement?

Why the excitement?
E-MetroTel claimed they could support legacy Avaya (formerly Nortel) UNIStim IP phones as well as legacy Norstar digital phones. That statement quickly grabbed my attention knowing that the Norstar is probably the widest deployed small office key system in the United States. I actually still support 5 Norstars in my network because we haven’t found a cost effective replacement for them and in short they just plain work.

I was able to open dialog with Jay and Chris from E-MetroTel who graciously sent me an evaluation UCx50 unit for testing.

Demo Unit
The configuration of the UCx50 was fairly simple and straight forward. It comes out of the box with a default IP address which you can connect to and quickly reconfigure to match your IP addressing scheme. I was quickly able to configure and add 2 SIP extensions for which I used 2 Avaya 1220 IP phones which were running SIP firmware. With that success under my belt I proceeded to attach 2 Avaya i2002 IP phones which were running UNIStim. When configuring the extensions for the UNIStim handsets I selected “Generic Nortel Device” and provided the MAC address of each IP phone. With that all done I quickly had all 4 IP phones working and was placing calls between them without issue so I decided to push the envelope. I setup a digital gateway using the hardware from an BCM/SRG along with a IDE flash drive provided by E-MetroTel. This required me to physically remove the internal hard drive from the BCM/SRG hardware and replace it with an IDE flash drive which was pre-loaded with software by E-MetroTel. As with the UCX-50 itself it was pretty simple to configure the digital gateway and get it up and running. I did spend some time trying to figure out how the digital gateway mapped the 25 pair block I had the Norstar digital phones connected to. Eventually I had calls flowing between the 2 Norstar M7310 phones and ultimately between all the digital and IP phones.