Intro to Cisco Call Manager Express

The Cisco entry level offering in the VoIP world was called Call Manager Express or CME for short. In time, it became known as Cisco Call Manager Express (CCME) and then when unification became a big deal, Cisco renamed it Cisco Unified Call Manager Express or CUCME. For the sake of brevity, we'll refer to it as its original name Call Manager Express (CME).

CME is the branch office/Small Office Home Office (SOHO) PBX offering of Cisco. It is the distant cousin of the enterprise platform called Call Manager. They are like night and day. CME is based on using a router (just one!) for the platform and Call Manager uses multiple servers and an enterprise class network to make a scalable platform. To learn CME is just one small step in the progression to Call Manager.

To be up front, CME reached its end of life in 2012 or so and has been replaced by the Cisco UC-500 series of VoIP PBXs. CME ran on the Cisco line of Integrated Services Routers ISRs) such as the 2600 and 2800 series of routers which have reached their end of life also. So why bother writing up webpages about an end of life product? The reason is that there are a lot of inexpensive Cisco gear readily available that can be used to create a rock solid VoIP PBX for a branch office or SOHO. And best of all, it is Cisco which is the top dog in the networking world!

CME is actually software that runs on top of a Cisco ISR. If needed, extra legacy modules such as FXS, FXO and T1 cards can be installed on the router for access to the PSTN. Auto Attendant and voice mail can be added using a network module (NM) that provides Cisco Unity Express (CUE) services. This section is divided into the following areas:

Creating the Network - This area discusses the basic network that Call Manager Express expects to run on to provide the best quality of service for the end user.

1st Time CME Setup - This area discusses running the initial telephony setup process to create your first dialing numbers and softphones. IMPORTANT - you do this ONCE and then use other tools such as the command line or web GUI to configure CME.

Command Line - CME uses both a web GUI and command line interface for configuration. It is important to know the command line commands relating to the telephony component. This section will assume that you have previous Cisco experience and it will cover only the telephony portion.

The CME Web GUI - CME has a web GUI that is used for configuring the PBX VoIP portion but not the legacy interfaces. This section discusses how to configure the VoIP portion.

Configuring the FXS port for a POTS phone - This section details the steps required to configure the legacy FXS port to create a POTS phone extension.

Configuring the FXO port for a POTS line - This section details the process to configure a legacy FXO port to create a trunk using a POTS line. Two methods of picking up an outside line will be detailed: dial 9 for an outside line and picking up a line using a phone button.

Configuring CME to use an ISDN PRI line - This section will run through the process of configuring CME to use an ISDN PRI connection over a T1 line (E1 is very similar).

SIP Trunking to an ISP - This section will show how to use a SIP trunk to connect CME to a VoIP service provider.

Cisco Unity Express (CUE) - This section will introduce the CUE module and GUI which provides voicemail and auto attendant (AA) features.

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Copyright July 2013 Eugene Blanchard