Migration from Nortel to Asterisk. Is it possible?


#1

Our office of 60 currently uses Nortel digital phones and a Nortel PBX. We plan on evaluating Asterisk becuase of the various features it offers and we’re pretty unhappy with the support we’re getting here in Barcelona for the Nortel . But, being IT guys and not telecom, we don’t understand if we can leverage our current Nortel M3904 phones. Is it possible to connect the 60+ digital extensions into the Asterisk box? Will Asterisk speak with the digital phones, or does it only work with analog and IP phones? Does one use a ‘channel bank’ to connect the 60 phones to the Asterisk PBX? If not, then what is the hardware needed?

Thanks in advance for your direction.


#2

[quote=“gtcleaves”]Our office of 60 currently uses Nortel digital phones and a Nortel PBX. We plan on evaluating Asterisk becuase of the various features it offers and we’re pretty unhappy with the support we’re getting here in Barcelona for the Nortel . But, being IT guys and not telecom, we don’t understand if we can leverage our current Nortel M3904 phones. Is it possible to connect the 60+ digital extensions into the Asterisk box? Will Asterisk speak with the digital phones, or does it only work with analog and IP phones? Does one use a ‘channel bank’ to connect the 60 phones to the Asterisk PBX? If not, then what is the hardware needed?

Thanks in advance for your direction.[/quote]

You can safely assume that those digital phones only work with one particular brand and model of PBX. They use proprietary and secret protocols, designed to prevent interoperability.

Let’s say that you have a digital line (you are in Spain, so it would be an E1) that connects the phone company to your Nortel. You could start by placing Asterisk between the telco and the Nortel, with appropriate hardware in your Asterisk server. Incoming callers will get IVR and menus options, and calls could be re-dialed into each extension.
Later on, you progressively get IP phones and put the Nortel in the dumpster.

-Ramon


#3

Gracias Ramon.

Placing Asterisk between the telco and our Nortel sounds like a good option for us to keep our existing phones, at least for the time being. I wonder, however, if this setup will result is the loss of any features on the Asterisk box or our Nortel phones. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Unfortunately this setup will still require our service contract with the Nortel provider :frowning: . Asterisk, where were you 5 years ago!?! :laughing:


#4

Take a look at citel.com/index/index.asp. You can get a SIP to Nortel gateway to allow you to use the old handsets.
Putting Asterisk between your current Notel system and PRI will work but be well aware that if anything goes wrong with the Asterisk server, you’ll loose both Asterisk and the Nortel system. We chose to connect Asterisk to our PBX (Avaya) via 4 BRI lines. This has allowed us to test Asterisk and is allowing our users to use and test the features before we migrate over. I do suggest you try out various different handsets as they differ considerably. We are using 7912 but have also used Cisco 7960 and Snom 190.
We have been getting a lot of user feedback on features they are missing on their phones. It is definitely early days for SIP phones. Some basic features we have on the Avaya system are not available on SIP phones or are hard to implement. If you want a list of these get in touch and I’ll mail you them as they are quite a lot.


#5

How does one connect Asterisk to the Nortel PBX via BRI? It is necessary to install ISDN cards into Asterisk? Can anybody recommend an inexpensive model that works well with Linux/Asterisk?