in Asterisk, X-Geek

Polycom and Cisco VoIP phones compared

So $WORK ordered a new Cisco phone system to replace the Asterisk-based one I put together. Never mind that the Asterisk system cost 1/5th what the Cisco one costs and was set up in a day while the Cisco one in our German office still isn’t working properly after a month of configuration. Hey, its not my money, so I can’t really argue.

My office is getting this new system, too, but I’ve been leaving the set up of this system to the outside consultant $BIGBOSS hired. Still, I couldn’t help but figure out what it took to configure the Cisco 7965 phone to talk to our soon-to-be-replaced Asterisk system.

Turns out it was relatively easy. I spent about two hours figuring everything out (having known nothing previously about Cisco phones). This phone doesn’t include SIP support but instead ships with Cisco’s native SCCP firmware. Fortunately, the hackers who create and improve Asterisk (God bless ’em) have written an SCCP module for Asterisk. After trying Asterisk’s native SCCP support (called skinny), I tried the outside SCCP module and got things working.

Now there are two phones on my desk: one is my trusty Polycom Soundpoint IP 501 and the other is the Cisco Unified IP Phone 7965G. You’d think they would work equally well. You might think the Cisco, being a bigger brand name, would work better. But you’d be wrong.

The Polycom blows the fancy Cisco phone away. The reason is sound quality. The Cisco’s handset is poorly designed, perhaps more for a stylish look rather than functionality. What ends up happening is that the sound from the handset’s speaker reverberates inside the handset body, causing the person on the other end to sound like he or she is in a barrel.

The Polycom’s handset sounds dramatically better in comparison. In fact, the Cisco phone sounds great – with the Polycom handset connected to it!

I might be old fashioned, but I value a phone’s sound quality more than fancy features. Frankly I’m surprised Cisco did not pay more attention to sound quality. Polycom is known for the superior sound quality of their speaker phones. Their VoIP phones also have superior sound quality. Its no contest.

  1. So, how does the asterisk SCCP support compare to its SIP support? I’ve got a Cisco 7960 (with SIP firmware) that I really need to get hooked up to an Asterisk box at some point…

  2. There appears to be little functional difference. One thing I like, though, is if Asterisk goes down for even a moment, the phone will immediately attempt to re-register. This is a very convenient way to push new settings to the phones and something I never figured out how to do with the Polycom SIP phones I have.

  3. Glad i’m not the only one that likes the 501’s better than the cisco phones.

Comments are closed.