Sunday, 4 May 2014

Configuring Cisco SPA301 With CallCentric - Quick Guide

The Cisco SPA301 VoIP IP Phone is an affordable generation of SIP based (Session Initiation Protocol) IP Phone that is marketed towards the small business and home office user.  However, I think this could be a good starter Phone for anyone wanting to give VoIP a try.

This is a basic 1-Line IP Phone and is a great way to get started with BYOD and DIY VoIP.  The phone is an all-in-one VoIP Phone that doesn't require any other adapters.  Some people may find it a good outbound long distance calling phone due to it's lack of a call display.

In this Quick Guide, it is my intention to walk you through the basics of how to quickly (relatively speaking) configure your newly acquired SPA301 IP Phone directly with CallCentric, one of my preferred BYOD and DIY VoIP service providers.

To achieve this goal of quick and easy configuration, I will begin with the SPA301 as configured with it's factory default values as a starting point.  Then, I will only point out the essential settings that "must be edited" in order to connect and achieve reliable service registration with CallCentric.

In order to proceed with this quick guide setup procedure, a few assumptions must be made and prerequisites met.

Assumptions and Prerequisites
  • You know how to login to the SPA301 IP Phone -  I explain how:  HERE.
  • You are the owner of the phone and it has not been locked-down by a VSP or previous owner.
  • Make sure the phone is Ethernet cable connected to a LAN port on your NAT-Router.
  • The NAT-Router must be set to issue DHCP IP addresses to LAN connected devices (most are).
  • You know how to perform a Factory Reset (Reset configuration settings to their defaults) - I explain how:  HERE.
  • Once you know how to perform a Factory Reset, I recommend that you do so before proceeding.
  • Your SPA301 IP Phone should be running with the latest firmware version.  If not, I explain how to update:  HERE.
  • Your SPA301 is powered-up and ready to be configured.
  • You have already setup an account with CallCentric and know your Main Account (or the Sub-Account) SIP credentials that you will use to configure into your SPA301 IP Phone. (i.e. User Name and SIP Password.)
Now that we have all the assumptions and prerequisites out of the way, what remains is only the non-default essentials required to successfully configure the SPA301 to connect and register with CallCentric.

Let's Get Started

  • Login to the SPA301 Configuration Utility using your PC web browser. You will initially land on the Voice - Basic - Info page.  The initial  Info  tab screen capture is illustrated below.

    If you performed a Factory Reset as recommended in my prerequisites, you will not need to use Admin credentials to login.
  •   Click on the "Admin Login" link in the upper right corner of the Configuration Utility window.

  • Next, click on the "Advanced" link, also located in the upper right-hand corner of the window.

    We should now be in Admin and Advanced view mode.

First, I thought I would mention about how to ensure the SPA301 is showing and reporting correct local time.

Time Zone and Daylight Savings Time
Time, Time Zone, and Daylight Savings Time settings are set and edited on the Regional page of the SPA301.  It is located under the Miscellaneous section at the bottom of the Regional page.

The SPA301 default Time Zone is GMT -8.
Because I live in British Columbia, Canada, I am on Pacific Standard Time (PST) and GMT -8 is the correct GMT offset for my area.

  • You will need to set the Time Zone offset for your specific location, as needed.

Even though GMT -8 is the correct Time Zone for me, at the time I wrote this article, my time value as displayed on the SPA301 Status page is still off by one hour.  As it turns out, this is caused by Daylight Savings Time being in effect.

  • The solution is to copy and past the following Daylight Savings Time Rule into the Daylight Savings Time Rule text box.  (This rule is correct for Canada)

Daylight Savings Time Rule:      

Now, we are ready to move on to configuring the CallCentric proxy server settings and User Login on the Ext 1 page.
  • Click on the Ext 1 tab.
    The tab that has focus will turn green;  thus,  Ext 1  tab is now green.
Because I performed a Factory Reset before beginning, all configuration values you see on Ext 1 page will be their "default" values.

Specific Values To Be Edited For CallCentric Registration

NAT Settings:
  • NAT Mapping Enable:       YES
  • NAT Keep Alive Enable:    YES

Now, scroll down the page to the Proxy and Registration section.

  • Proxy:                       
  • Outbound Proxy:      
  • Use Outbound Proxy:         Yes
  • Register Expires:               180     (I generally use any value between 120 - 360 seconds)
  • Use DNS SRV:                  Yes
  • DNS SRV Auto Prefix:      Yes
  • Display Name:           The name you want to show along with your Caller-ID display (optional)
  • User ID:                      11-digit, or 14-digit  ID   (Main Account, or Sub-Account User ID)
  • Password:                    (SIP Password)
  • Use Auth ID:              Yes
  • Auth ID:                      Re-enter the same User ID as above.

  • Now, scroll down to the bottom of the page and edit the Dial Plan values.

Dial Plan
While, the default SPA301 dial plan will work for dialing of most numbers, there are some dial strings that it will not accommodate without modifying the default dial string.  Thus, it is recommended that you edit or replace the default SPA301 dial plan with a CallCentric user-friendly dial plan.

  • Clear and delete the default dial plan, and then copy and past CallCentric's recommended dial plan into the SPA301 Dial Plan text box in place of the default plan:

CallCentric Recommended Dial Plan:

Once you have entered all the required and recommended values for the Ext 1 page as listed above, you can now go ahead and click the "Submit All Changes" button to save your new settings.

The following screen will display while the changes are being updated and the phone reboots.

After about 50 to 60 seconds, the Configuration Utility window will land back on the  Info  page.

If your SPA301 was correctly configured and it successfully registered with a CallCentric proxy server, then you will note that at the bottom of the  Info  page you will see the "Registered" status displayed under the Ext 1 Status section.  You should also note that the "Current Time" has also correctly set (hopefully).

Unfortunately, the SPA301 does not have a status light on the phone that will give a visual indication of registration success.  While, you can view the registration status on the Info page, the easiest way to know that you have proxy registration is to pick up the SPA301 handset and listen for a "Dial Tone".   If you hear the dial tone, you are registered with CallCentric and can now make outbound calls, and receive inbound calls.

That's It In a Nutshell
So now, I have covered the bare-bones essentials of getting started configuring your SPA301 IP Phone with a BYOD DIY VoIP service provider like CallCentric.

If you started with the SPA301 configuration default values, and only changed the values and entries described in the above bullet points with your correct account credentials and proxy, you should have a dial tone and now be able to make VoIP calls via CallCentric.

Making Test Calls From The SPA301 With CallCentric
Because CallCentric is a pay-as-you-go BYOD VoIP service, you need to have calling credits in your CallCentric account balance in order to place calls to PSTN landline or mobile phone numbers.  (However, you can place free in-network VoIP calls to other CallCentric users by dialing their 11-digit CallCentric account number, or 14-digit sub-account number, if you know it.)

I have listed a few Free Test Calls that you can make regardless of the calling balance in your account.
  • *123   -  Voice Mail access   (if you setup a CallCentric voice mail box)
  • 17770000001(#)  -   CallCentric Test Number
  • 17771234567(#)  -   Free 411 (advertisement sponsored)
  • 011-883-510-000-000-091(#)   -  iNum Echo Test
  • 011-883-510-000-000-093(#)   -  iNum Caller-ID Test
    Because iNum calls are international numbers, they are dialed as an international number, which means from the USA and Canada, you need to precede the iNum number dialed with the International Direct Dialing (IDD) Access Code of 011.
You can often speed up the dialing connection time by entering the # key at the end of the number you are dialing.  This will initiate an "immediate send" on that dial string.

Obviously, there are numerous additional settings for tweaking the configuration and performance of your SPA301 IP Phone.  However, configuring the bare bones basics to quickly get connected with CallCentric was the theme of this article.

Note:   Don't forget to set an Administrator Password for your SPA301.  It's good security policy.

Good luck using your new Cisco SPA301 IP Phone.