Home Technologies Product Reviews
Product Reviews
Citel Portico TVA Review
Written by Bob Langys   

We were working with a company that was trying to replace an aging Toshiba system with something new while keeping the costs down.  The customer was also concerned with the impact of a new system on the users and was determined to make the most of their existing technology investment.

After doing some web searching and going back in the way-back machine a bit, we found the Portico TVA.  Our original search was for MCK Extenders (devices that let you put digital phones at remote locations with a traditional PBX).  We found the Portico had purchased the company and had come out with some new products.

In the fall of 2009 I had the opportunity to have a test drive with a Citel Portico TVA device.  The original goal was to see how, exactly, park locations were handled on a Toshiba telephone connected to the Asterisk system with the TVA.  This quickly turned into a test-fest as my team here at Medlin Communications was eager to see how this box was going to let us bring all of those legacy customers forward.

Test System:  Citel Portico TVA and  the Asterisk / Elastix PBX with SIP trunks.  A variety of phones, including Nortel, Avaya, and Toshiba.

Citel Portico TVA

Elements Tested:  Initial Setup, Phone Setup, Phone Button Setup, and Practical Usage

Initial Setup

The Portico TVA was pretty easy to configure as long as you have some experience with serial-based console ports.  Once the initial setup is complete, the unit is accessed with a web browser.  Just a couple of minutes after powering the unit up and reading the manual we found that we were able to plug in our initial batch of phones.  As amazing as it sounds, the phones powered up and looked ready to run.  Although they need some more setup to finally run, the initial setup gets you to a point where the lights work and the display has something showing.

Phone Setup

We established a couple of SIP extension in Asterisk through the Elastix GUI.  We then used the browser to work with the Portico TVA to assign the SIP extension to the port on the TVA.  Once properly configured, the telephone shows a ready status and the SIP extension number.

Phone Button Setup

Once we had the Toshiba showing up as a SIP extension (I still get giddy!), it was time to put all of those buttons to work.  The interesting thing is that all of the buttons were addressable.  Make your hold button do something different if you want to.  Our goal was to see if the park locations would show up on the phone, as if there were a call on a Key system line.  The great news is that once configured, the keys operated just as we had hoped.  Press a key to park a call.  As soon as the confirmation of the park location is heard, the button associated with that location would light up.  It was almost like magic!

Practical Usage

For a week I put my Cisco phone away and worked with the Toshiba DKT handset.  The experience was really great.  I used the telephone with my headset and had great quality all week.  The phone worked with no hick-ups and operated just as I would have hoped.

Resetting the System - Trying New Phones

After I was thoroughly convinced that the Toshiba phone was working fine, we set about to try the other phones that we had.  The process of resetting the unit was simple enough:  Log in via the console port and reset the unit.  Answer a few questions and *poof*, it now supports Nortel or Avaya phones.  We tried both and found the same experience as with the Toshiba sets.

End Notes

We had a small issue with the documentation on the phone setup.  We're not sure if it was our misunderstanding or weak docs, but a quick call to support fixed our issue.  Support was quick and relatively question free.  They helped us get underway in less than 15 minutes.  Each unit only supports one type of phone at a time.  So you cannot plug in the Nortel, Toshiba, and Avaya sets all at the same time.  We're pretty sure this is due to protocol and interface differences as the docs warned us not to plug in a different type of phone than the unit was set up for.

Our experience was good with this product and we will recommend it for any of our clients that want to support the legacy handsets or a remote office with legacy handsets.  You can also get this device with a built-in analog port to cover local 911 usage.  That is a nice safety feature.  Given the right set of circumstances, this is a real winner of a product.

Please contact Bob Langys at 630-734-7328 if you have any questions on this!

Find more product information at www.citel.com


Copyright © 2010 . All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.