Distinctive Ring for Internal Vs External Calls

Unanswered Question
Jun 27th, 2011

Hi All,

I hope the subject heading is not to ambiguous, but I am struggling with a particular issue that is causing me some headaches, simply because the System is not working as advertised and I have no clean explanation to the client as to why I cannot get it to work (Maybe its just me I don't know).

The Landscape:

  • 1X PRI Circuit 20 Channels
  • Incoming calls go to a blast group
  • All phones within the premises are in the same blast group
  • All phones set to the same default ring tone
  • Phones are SPA-509G
  • Latest SW Pack with inclusive firmware for the phones
  • Purely built with CCA end-2-end

Client Request:

Client requires that External calls have a different Ring tone or at worst a Distinctive ring to that of an Internal call, they would have liked that an incoming call can have one Ring Tone and an Internal Call have another Ring Tone... This is a fair request since the majority of the competitor Digital PBX phone systems can do this, and it is what they are used to.

Understanding of the System feature:

As is promoted, the system is supposed to support Distinctive Ringing, this as I understand it is supposed to be set by default in the system where the Cadence is altered to have a distinctive ring on Internal Vs External calls.

The Issue:

Unable to produce this result, either on our LAB/Demo system or on the clients system, I have tried multiple ring tones and all generate the same result, same ringing tone, there is no distinction between them.

Is this a bug in the system? Or is it possibly a bug with the phones load?? Do others have this working???

Is it not possible that in the ringer settings you can choose a default Ring Tone and then scroll down and choose the Blast Group Extension number and apply a different Ring tone? There is logic in having this feature and simply baffled as to why you cannot choose it.

Previously in the past you could create a Shared DN and send all the calls to this and emulate a Blast Group type of environment, you could also set a different Ring Tone for this shared DN so it sounded different to an Internal call, but even if I could do this with this client, it is not an option as they need all the button real estate... And I am not sure you can do the Shared DN with different ring tone anymore anyway as it was always done via CLI.

Is there a solution? Am I missing something here??

Any HELP on this matter would be greatly appreciated to find a solution to this problem would make life easier, at least until I can lobby Cisco to alter the ringing functionality to parallel that of other competing systems.

Thanking you in Advance



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daviddun Mon, 06/27/2011 - 18:46


Good evening sir,

I tested your issue on the lab UC540 and without going CLI or burning a button, you are limited to the ring setup on the button.

I was unable to get the distigtive ring to work, I ended up burning button two and setting the blast call (External) to it

Sorry I was not able to find your answer you wanted, just thought I would let you know that it will be passed up to the CCA team for future consideration

Have a great night

David Trad Mon, 06/27/2011 - 18:53

WOW Quick response I was not expecting one now given you guys should be a sleep over there

I am reasonably versed with the UC-500 systems and normally can get myself unstuck, this one problem has caused many gray hairs as I am sure you can appreciate, Customers can be excessively demanding and I guess rightly so.

Arthur thank you very much for your response, I really do appreciate it

Can I just make a point of clarification that I do not believe this to be a CCA issue, but more so a lower level system feature issue, in CME version 7.X you could set individualized ring tones which you could use as a distinction, this does not seem to be the case with CME version 8.X.... Unless I am in fairy land which is entirely possible



mcasimirc63 Tue, 06/28/2011 - 07:40

These distinctive ringtones you are talking about can only be configured via CLI.  The other type of ring you might be referring to is called a "feature ring" but again that is setup using button functions via CLI.  Hope that clears it up

Nathan Compton Tue, 06/28/2011 - 11:27

Not CCA compatibile, but how to configure this is in the CME Admin guide:


2. configure terminal

3. ephone-dn

4. number number [secondary number] [no-reg [both | primary]]

5. ring {external | internal | feature} [primary | secondary]

6. end

dn-tag [dual-line]

David Trad Tue, 06/28/2011 - 14:43

Hi Nathan & Marcus,

Thank you for your replies they are appreciated

The point of contention here is that I cannot do anything that will not be CCA compliant or even risk taking it out of support compliant and CCA compliance, 1- I don't want to take the system out of SBS scope, and 2- I wont be running any hybrid systems, I would like the system to be clean and within full management of CCA... Therein lays the problem I guess

I am fully aware of the CLI adjustments that can be done, however in saying that one of them will break CCA and the other will not even be recognized (Yes both have been full tested) It is to my understanding that if the right ring tone is chosen the Cadence will be altered to match that of their respective call be it internal or external. I understand that there may be certain ring tones this cannot be done with, the point is that this is not happening by default and as such the system does not function as it should.

Secondly I cannot loose any buttons on the phone as that is used realestate so I am unable to do featured ring (As per my original post). If you look at the call flow topology you will see that all calls go to a blast group, this is where the limitation begins and the surrounding issues come into effect.

The Cisco no matter what should have the ability to choose a ring tone for the Blast Group and a ring tone for Internal Calls, each one allowing to be separate, or by default the cadence changes if the engineer or the client has chosen not to alter the system from the default state.

We are not a pure Cisco house and sell other phone system, effectively two different divisions, when the Cisco cannot do something as simple as this, it becomes awfully embarrassing and gives all the ammunition for more competing products to be sold and a huge reduction in Cisco being sold, which is NOT good for me as Cisco is my division, especially when the other product works just as good and 30% cheaper

I trust that when this is put forward to the product management team, common sense and logic will prevail, I can only hope I guess... The issue is now how to satisfy the client and make life easier for them, right now I am at a loss.



Nathan Compton Tue, 06/28/2011 - 18:02

I can only tell you that it's not in CCA now.  I'll check the upcoming CCA 3.1 to see if it is possible in it, but it is highly doubtful.  I'm sure you can request the feature, but until it is implemented, your only option is to go CLI.


Adam Compton

David Trad Tue, 06/28/2011 - 20:40

Hi Adam,

your only option is to go CLI.

This is the problem

I am reasonably versed with CLI but I guess this conversation will require the assistance of SBS support now and to see if this can be implemented without the potential of management problems, they may know other commands that I am not aware of, I will not put CLI commands on a live/production system at the risk of other issues surfacing, and or breaking CCA compliance this is not an option as I am not UC Express certified and do not have a desire at this given point in time going for it.

Again I can only hope that someone who can make decisions within Cisco reads this and understands the importance of such a small thing/feature.



Nathan Compton Fri, 07/01/2011 - 07:57


Your original post insinuates that you need an immediate solution.  That solution is a CLI command.


Adam Compton

mcasimirc63 Sat, 07/02/2011 - 02:22

Many partners that post in this forum do not have the Express UC or Advanced UC specialization, they only have select.  If they did what you are suggesting, "enter CLI commands for every fix" then they would not receive support according to the new support policy, if its not bug related (you were on that email thread btw).   It might be helpful to let people know that before hand, just as some of the other SB TAC members have done by putting a disclaimer in their post..  Just a suggestion ;-)

Robert Prideaux Mon, 07/04/2011 - 16:22


You have really hit a salient point right on the head...

As a Select Partner - I am right in there with all the other noobies who just don't have the high end product knowledge and experience - that is why we are Select - SMB Partners, have to be multi (as in other than one Cisco UC box) skilled.

SMB space means we have to support lots of compute type things (desktops/laptops/servers/tablets/Office and its disasters/OS's of a number of stripes/business issues/malware/networking etc etc etc...

We don't spend our days chatting in CLI to our peers...

Nathan typifies the huge problems Partners at my level face:

Problem needs CLI - you can't use CLI - or stuff the warranty/support.

If it was a $200,000 catalyst chassis then yes, you should be a specialist in that area; but not a $2,000 UC box...


Also, no motivation to use/learn a (very deep and difficult) product which has been specifically listed as Verboten...

And frankly, any problem that has David puzzled  - has me horrified...

danplacek Tue, 07/05/2011 - 07:36

Since when are select partners not allowed to use CLI? Not even a few weeks ago STAC was telling me that Select and higher parters were supported for CLI. Did they change this AGAIN without notifying anyone? (Originally no one was supported on CLI?)

My understanding was,

Select and higher partners are supported for CLI, but once you go CLI for a box, CCA is no longer supported for that contract.

David Trad Wed, 07/06/2011 - 15:26

Hi Robert,

I am not so much as puzzled, just confused

The UC by default out of the box when using CCA to program the system should automatically apply a very basic form of distinctive ringing, that is it should change the Cadence of the ringing so one can tell the difference between an internal and external call... It does not do this, and thus required me to make changes to the system via CLI.

The problem with all this when I did the CLI changes on our Demo system in the office, CCA started to behave in all sorts of odd manners, if I removed the commands then all was back to normal again... Not a risk I am willing or prepared to take on a live production system that is taking on average 2 calls per minutes on fractional PRI.

The days pass by now where I wish I was a vampire that could gaze into their eyes and persuade them into waiting patiently for the feature to be fixed up by Cisco, but alas I watch to much TV cause it aint going to happen

The other feature I could have done with, was the ability to have one ringtone for external calls, and one for internal call, two separate ringtones would have made this a non-issue in a blink of an eye, but again I was denied at the pearly gates

No need to be horrified, I still have a handle on things... well sort of... but I am loosing my head though



jmuraglia Tue, 10/11/2011 - 06:48

I have the same issue as david on a new install, one of the secretaries is demanding seperate ring tones for external and innternal, despite the fact that display shows where the call is from and external calls have a 3 short ring and internal 1 ring, the old bat can't tell the difference.  we are about to be kicked to the curb and have to give their money back. I CAN BURN A BUTTON.    can some one point me in the right direction with CCA,  please help

David Trad Wed, 10/12/2011 - 15:54

Hi Jay,

Since discussing with the client the only option available to them, they have agreed to burn a button, so here is the scenario that can be done..

Using a Blast Group:

  • Point Incoming calls to the Blast Group
  • Create a secondary Extension on the phone, if possible in a different range I.E if their person extension is 1XX then make the secondary Personal Extension in the 2XX range
  • Remove the personal Extension from the Blast Group and then add the secondary personal extension to the blast group
  • In the phones settings where you change the ring tone, choose one ring tone for the personal extension button and then a different one for the secondary personal extension

Ok..Ok I am making it sound simple, whilst it is in a way, it may be a little tricky to get it to work but it is fully CCA compliant and supported by SBCS because it was actually created by CCA.

Direct To Extension:

  • Same as above except that you point the incoming call to point to the secondary personal extension
  • In this scenario it would be advisable to try and have the two buttons side-by-side, in my scenario this is not possible, it will look stupid but hey it will work and get the client of my back...

I find it disturbing that an Avaya, or an LG and hell even a Samsung phone system can do this without so much trouble/fuss, the LG Avaya techs I work with have a field day mocking the Cisco Phone system all day because of all these little annoying configuration issues, even though they have some nasty ones themselves, but still this should have been a support configuration on a single button from day one...



jmuraglia Thu, 10/20/2011 - 09:40


Thanks for the info, i will try and let you know the outcome.

Thanks Again


loeweuk01 Thu, 10/25/2012 - 08:53

Hi David,

I was following your method for "Direct To Extension"

Say if someone phoned in on an external call and the call was being directed to the "Secondary" Extension. What if no one answered, is there a way to forward the call onto the "Primary" extensions voicemail?

Otherwise you would have to create a mailbox and record another greeting for the "Secondary" Extension and you would essentially be looking after 2 mailboxes. One for internal calls and one for External calls.

Hopefully there is another way round it if anyone knows?

Best regards


David Trad Thu, 10/25/2012 - 13:39

Hi Robert,

Mate just change the CFNA to point to the primary extension using the call steering digit, also called "TransfVM"


Your extension range is 1XX

Your secondary button for external calls is 2XX

And your "TransfVM" is "6"

And your Voice Mail pilot is 199

Then your CFNA on extension 2XX should be 61XX < Where "X" represents the users extension, there internal one if you will.

Further to that if you are watching another extension for BLF, then it is advisable to watch the Internal extension so as to be able to also use it as a speed dial button :-)

Hope that helps you :-)


David Trad.

loeweuk01 Fri, 10/26/2012 - 01:39

Hi David,

Makes total sense, totally forgot than you can direct calls straight to an extensions voicemail using the TransfVM.

Will give this a bash today and let you guys know the results.

Thank you very much.

Best regards



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