SPA 9000 and SPA 400 dropping calls daily +

Answered Question
Mar 25th, 2010
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Hi Everyone,

This is my fourth case / post since I installed this VOIP system about 2 months ago.  You would think my client would be the poster child for this system.  They have six full time employees with twelve phones total.  I installed an SPA 9000, 2 SPA 400s, and 12 SPA 942s.  The firm had an AT&T Merlin analog key phone system for the 25 years prior.  They never experienced a dropped call.  They had no voicemail and 4 PSTN lines.  They finally wanted to get a new phone system with the latest technology, I.E. voicemail, AA, etc.  I proposed a VOIP system using PSTN lines because their XDSL line isn't the most reliable and I figured with the analog lines it would be rock solid.  Certainly not the case.  Since the day the hardware arrived all I have delt with was flakey issues.  I have worked with Cisco for over 12 years so I chose to go with their system even though it was Linksys gear. However, I couldn't justify a real Cisco Voip solution which would have ran them in the upper thousands.

After finally getting the devices configured and up and running I seem to experience a flakey issue everytime the hardware is touched.  BTW I installed a Cisco SLM 224P switch because I figured it would play nice with the devices.  Putting aside the issues that make me and Cisco look bad like turning off the devices to clean up the cabling up and instead of ringing the hunt group that worked all along it now ring all the phones, the client has experienced 3-4 drops a day.  The provider of the PSTN lines is AT&T and they do not have call waiting enabled.  When I first placed a call to tech support versus posting here I was amazed when I was told that there was only one engineer that knew voice and these systems at the help desk.  He happened to be in a meeting so I got put on hold everytime the engineer I was working with went to ask him something.  Everytime I called back and had to get a new engineer because the owner was off shift, the new engineer would always try to have me wait for them to come back on shift.  The last suggestion that could be made to me was to segregate the Voice and Data traffic into different VLANs.  Now granted I know this is good practice but we are talking about six PCs on a 100 MB pipe along with the VOIP.  So I went ahead and split the traffic into different VLANs.  Even after this change everyday the same 3-4 calls drop.  The onlything I can trace it to is that once they recieve more than 2 calls bad things happen.  Now I can run the debugs to syslog which show nothing wrong but that causes more drops.  I've seen many posting out here with the same problems happening on the SPA 400s.  BTW I have a seperate SPA for voicemail and a seperate SPA for the PSTN lines.  All the postings seem to end in "we got off the PSTN lines and went to a VOIP provider or we threw the SPA 400 out".

That's exactly where I am at.  I'm thinking of just throwing out the SPA 9000 and 400s and replacing them with an Asterix appliance.  Everytime I talk to my client that say they feel so stressed and unprofessional that they have to call back clients and explain why their phone system dropped them.  I feel helpless when my client says there is nothing you can do to fix this issue?  They keep asking me why won't the vendor send someone out if they sell this equipment and it's not working correctly.  Then I have to explain the whole workings of support, etc. again.  To top it off the SLM 224P switch has decided it doesn't want to answer to it's IP address anymore.  I ended up having to factory reset it with no luck.  I tried the address I changed it to, I tried the factory address, nothing.  Since this switch doesn't have a console port it seems I'm out of luck.  What a mistake it was to sell this solution.

If anyone has any last minute recommendations for me I'd welcome them.  I see Asterisk coming soon if this keeps up.  At least the SPA 942 phones should work with the new asterisk system.  BTW I worked for a company and we run Asterisk with high call volume and no problems hence why I'm leaning that way.  In the   beginning my client was a little leary when I talked about that solution.  They were more comfortable going with a company like Cisco. Thanks.

Correct Answer by wayne.fong about 7 years 3 months ago

If I see your post earlier, I would avoid getting SPA9000 and SPA400. I am now stuck with 2 SPA400 and SPA9000. SPA400 does not work with PSTN yet. I am not sure why cisco sell unreliable product.

Correct Answer by William Paulsen about 7 years 3 months ago

I've also been trying to work out lots of glitches in a SPA5xx, SPA9000, and SPA400 setup.  I suspect the SPA9000 and SPA400 is soon to be discontinued, and bugs are no longer being investigated or fixed.  Unfortunately Cisco pre-sales never mentioned this.

I recently loaded the previous firmware version into the SPA400 and this is now stable - so instead of, the SPA400 version is

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Correct Answer
William Paulsen Thu, 03/25/2010 - 09:02
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I've also been trying to work out lots of glitches in a SPA5xx, SPA9000, and SPA400 setup.  I suspect the SPA9000 and SPA400 is soon to be discontinued, and bugs are no longer being investigated or fixed.  Unfortunately Cisco pre-sales never mentioned this.

I recently loaded the previous firmware version into the SPA400 and this is now stable - so instead of, the SPA400 version is

michael_riordan Thu, 03/25/2010 - 09:34
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Thanks for the post.  I actually just got a call from my client saying they couldn't recieve any calls at all (this happens from time to time).  I rebooted and magically its working again.  That's a good idea I may downgrade the firmware on the 400.  I agree with you about discontinuing this junk.  Now my client is questioning whether another VOIP system will even work.  So basically this solution is now causing the client to question my credibility.  Appreciate the post.

Alberto Montilla Thu, 03/25/2010 - 10:00
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  • Cisco Employee,

Hi Michael;

Can you please send me an email to amontill at Cisco dot com? Would like to talk to you offline on this issue.



William Paulsen Thu, 03/25/2010 - 10:16
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It's unfortunate Cisco won't discuss these issues in their own forum!

Alberto Montilla Thu, 03/25/2010 - 10:31
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  • Cisco Employee,

Dear Sir;

We are committed to discuss and solve any issue related to our products. At this stage we are trying to gather as much information as possible to understand what's causing the quality problem. We have qty of SPA400 installations without quality issues, but understand there are issues happening in certain configurations of SPA400, so looking for the root cause. That's the reason for my email, to provide as much and direct support as possible so that we can solve this issue faster.

I appreciate your efforts to communicate to us the quality issues our joint customers are facing. We are committed to solve these issues.


Alberto Montilla

Product Manager - Unified Communications

darrell.spears Fri, 04/02/2010 - 18:32
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I have installed three of these systems in 2 small businesses and my home since 2006.  More recently, I installed a SPA9000/SPA400 system where the customer has a busy setup.  I have been running into trouble.  The configuration of this company is:

- SPA9000 (x1)

- SPA400 (x1)

- SPA942 (x 11)

     - Line 1 is reserved for the SPA400 (4 lines to Bell PSTN)

     - Line 2 is reserved for a VoIP provider

     - Line 3 is reserved for a VoIP provider

- Linksys/Cisco WRT610N router with QoS

- Linksys Switch with QoS

Here are some of the issues they are encountering:

- Calls on hold are frequently disconnected on the SPA942 phones.

- Echo and jitter on the calls often

- Auto-Attendant announcement often cuts in and out to a point it's inaudible

- The SPA400 often hangs onto calls.  The caller hangs up but the 400 still thinks the caller is there and ties up the lines occasionally

There are some other minor issues that I have been able to find a work around.  One of the problems with this installation is the customer is located over 1,000 miles from me.  So to maintain their system I have to fly there or support it remotely.  I have been supporting the system through the use of the xml provisioning files.  There is a manual that Linksys created that talks about provisioning, but it's lacking in a few places.  There must be a way to get an acknowledgement that the change went through OK.  For now, I've got the resync timer set to 15 minutes, so after 20 minutes I assume my changes were completed.

I contacted Cisco customer service about these issues because the customer is very annoyed right now after spending $2,400 on this system, plus the cost of me going there to hook it up and wire all of the phones.  It was a lot of money for them and I was hoping to get fast help from Cisco.  I emailed their technical support group, and was emailed back right away stating that I needed to supply the serial number of the equipment as well as details about what's going on, my name, address, etc. etc.  I spent over an hour filling out the form.  Cisco emails me back within 10 minutes of sending them the form and says the SPA9000 that I just purchased brand new from my supplier is no longer under warranty.  Even though it was just hooked up on March 15, 2010 and purchased in December 2009, the warranty has expired.  I never heard tell of warranty expiring PRIOR to the purchase of a product.  I asked if they could help me with the encryption of the XML files because I'm afraid someone is going to break into this company's phone system and there will be a law suit.  No help was given.  The devices are no longer under warranty and I was told I would have to take out a service contract with Cisco for any support.

I just cannot believe how poor this service is.  I've spent countless months working with this equipment and I feel I have very strong knowledge of the equipment itself.  After spending weeks and nights awake trying to debug these last few things I'm left with absolutely no help from Cisco technical support.  It's outrageous.  I honestly don't know how Cisco can stay in business treating customers like this.  If I had to pick a Cisco system or some other company system, guess what - I would probably not pick Cisco anymore based on this terrible experience.  I've never opened a ticket before even though I've been using these products for years, and I'm just mortified by the lack of concern Cisco has for their customers.

Alberto Montilla Sun, 04/04/2010 - 06:27
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  • Cisco Employee,

Dear Sir;

Please contact me at amontill at cisco dot com. Please provide me with the following information:

- FW version of devices

- What's the call load from PSTN

- Are you using SPA400 voicemail?

(1) If you purchased your product from an authorized distributor on Dec 2009, warranty should be available. I would like to understand more of this situation.

(2) I'll provide you additional information about provisioning.


William Paulsen Wed, 04/07/2010 - 15:53
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Any resolution or suggestion here?  I'm now seeing randomly dropped calls.  It just happened to me while on a call to Cisco tech support!!!

darrell.spears Wed, 04/07/2010 - 18:35
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I will speak for myself.  There appears to be 2 reasons the SPA400 will disconnect a line.

#1: The reorder tone is being generated because the caller has hung up.

#2: There is silence on the line (as when you put the caller on hold).

For #1, I used the following TONE settings for Canada and I believe it should work for the US too:

%: 50

high freq: 635

low freq: 465

On: 250ms

Off: 250ms

Repeat: 6

I did not fill anything in regarding the on/off optional columns.  My client reported a disconnect today, so I am not 100% certain that this works, but I'll leave it there for a couple of more days to see what happens.

For #2, callers were being disconnected after being put on hold for 3 minutes.  The value in Tear Down FXO when silent for 180 seconds will disconnect the line due to silence.  A way to avoid this is to ensure music-on-hold is turned on.  The music will keep the system thinking that the caller is still there.  You can also disable this feature by changing the value to 0, but then if the line really is dead silent because nobody else is on the line you will have a line that never gets released from the system.  So I don't advise setting it to zero due to this fact.  Install music or use the imusic that comes with the SPA9000 and when putting a caller on hold they should remain on hold.  I increased the value to 5 minutes (300 seconds).  If there is no sound for a duration of 5 minutes, I think it is safe to disconnect the line from the system.  It's sort of a safety net.

Let us know how you make out should you try these settings.

Correct Answer
wayne.fong Thu, 03/25/2010 - 09:39
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If I see your post earlier, I would avoid getting SPA9000 and SPA400. I am now stuck with 2 SPA400 and SPA9000. SPA400 does not work with PSTN yet. I am not sure why cisco sell unreliable product.

michael_riordan Thu, 03/25/2010 - 09:59
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Hi Wayne,

Thanks for your response.  It's sad but also nice to know I am not the only one.  I may end up being stuck with the same hardware myself.  I understand Cisco's logic for buying Linksys and the company that made this equipment.  They wanted to be everything to everyone.  This allowed them to target the small business commmunity which is growing based on inexpensive Internet bandwidth, hardware, and software.  However, my experience with enterprise Cisco has been nothing but outstanding mostly.  For them to risk their reputation for this unreilable hardware / software is a suprise to me.  I just can't believe they would allow these devices to be sold with all the issues being incountered.  This is bad for the small business community and the IT business owners / consultants that support them.


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