by Phil Ruffin

Q:  When I list the unused ports on a card it includes a lot of ports I can’t use. I learned the hard way to stop half way programming the ports. Is there something I can do to use these wasted ports on my system? It bothers me that I spent all that money on the hardware but I’m still not allowed to use all of it.

A:  Yes, it is irritating to see all that hardware going to waste. If you look at your distribution frame, you’ll see that there are no places to punch down to the additional ports, either. Actually, there is no hardware for the other ports on the cards. They exist only in the “imagination” of the PBX. There are, however, some good, although occasional, uses for the mysterious, frustrating ports. First, though, you should know that instead of typing LUU (List Unused Units) to see what ports are available for use, you can type LUVU (List Unused Voice Units). That command only shows the ports you want to see.

I’ve used the “other” ports (called Data ports) for two purposes. The first application is for phones with a module inside called an ATA (Analog Terminal Adapter). It adds an analog port to the phone without requiring an additional pair of wires from the system. You’ll have to add local power to the phone (I suppose that’s for ringing current), but it’s pretty nice to run both from the PBX using only a single pair of wires. For an ADA, you normally program the analog as if it’s a digital set pretty much like the one you associate it with, but with only one extension number.

The other use I’ve found is not in any of Nortel’s manuals I’ve seen. It’s for special applications, and I’m not the genius who figured out this solution to a programming problem. Let’s say the users want to have a department number or other shared extension number, with its roll-over (hunting) lines, on several phones, but not the primary extension of any individual phone. You will need a place where you can reliably control the hunting, forward-no-answer, and forwarding of the number without any interference from the other phones. You can create a virtual set by programming this phone on a data port. Program the set initially with CLS FLXA (that adds the flexibility for the port to be either data or voice), let it build the set, then change the set using all the settings as if you are programming a real, physical phone, with proper settings on HUNT and FDN, but you’ll have to add VCE, CPTA, and WTA to the CLS. This will be the controlling set for the group number. If the department wants to forward the number temporarily at times, set up remote call forwarding for them. If they have a separate voice mailbox on that extension, be sure to set up an external message button on one or more phones using an XMWK (eXternal Message Waiting Key). Make this set the MARP for all the shared extension numbers. This phone is the one you’ll make changes to if they want to modify hunting or forwarding in the future. You’ll also need to make changes to this phone if they add or remove any of the rollover lines.

Q:  The keycaps on 3905 sets are harder to get off than the old 2216 keycaps. Is there a trick to it?

A:  Nortel made an inexpensive keycap removal tool for this purpose. You can look for them online or from your regular vendor. I believe the part number I got is NTMN19AAE6. You may also be able to use a common IC remover if the tangs are skinny enough. Your company’s Desktop or Network techs/engineers should be able to show you one.

Q:  When our Symposium went down calls were going to a completely different department that doesn’t even use Symposium. It’s all back to normal now, but the supervisor tells me if the calls can go somewhere when that happens she wants them to go to her group. Is there some way to send the calls there when it goes down? I don’t see how it can be programmed to do something when it’s dead.

A:  In the CDN programming there is an important prompt called DFDN. Here you program the local default ACD DN. In a nutshell, this allows the users who are now disconnected from the Symposium or CCM to log into traditional ACD on the Nortel PBX as regular agents, and receive the calls. No Symposium or CCM reports are generated, of course, and any display boards will be useless, but calls can be presented and answered. Of course, there’s much more work to be done to make this effective. You’ll have to keep the ACD groups current as you make changes in the agent station programming and skillsets. You will also need to train the agents to log in using the legacy ACD protocols. All this should be written up and available to them in an emergency. You should always make this a part of the design when you set up an ACD group.

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