[kwlug-disc] Unlimitel/ATA pricing

Andrew Kohlsmith (lists) aklists at mixdown.ca
Sat Mar 14 11:20:56 EDT 2009

On March 11, 2009 07:27:27 pm L.D. Paniak wrote:
> Let's try mutual ignorance reduction:
> What is a Norstar CICS phone box and how does it relate to phones with
> RJ11 jacks?

Allow me to interfere, I have significant knowledge in this area.

A Norstar CICS (Compact ICS (Integrated Communications System) is a small KSU 
(Key Systems Unit).  Basically a mini-PBX with digital phones.

The Norstar MICS/CICS phones themselves are little ISDN BRI stations which run 
a proprietary (hell, this is Nortel, right?) D channel protocol.  You can't 
just plug a Norstar phone into a normal phone jack in the wall, because the 
phone jack is a 2-wire circuit for analog telephones.  Round peg, square 
hole, and possibly letting out of the magic smoke if the line rings with the 
Nortel phone in there.  :-)

The KSU sits inbetween the normal phone network and the digital phones.  It 
simply allows the phones to talk and conference with each other, and to talk 
with the lines coming into the KSU.  The CICS can also have paging systems 
and voicemail, and you can buy Nortel ATAs which will let you connect normal 
fax machines and modems into the Nortel system.

Now the confusing part: the nortel phones use standard 4-wire RJ11 connectors.  
You kind of have to forget that the connectors look the same.  It's roughly 
equivalent to the fuel port on a car looks the same, whether it is gasoline 
or diesel.  :-)

I can give you a lot more detailed information about these systems if you 
like, but I am trying to stay on topic.  :-)


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