Pay to Call: NYC Visit: Telephone Booths

I did not test these on Saturday as the stereotypical SOP of visiting New York is to avoid touching things unless necessary.

I wasted nearly 60% of my battery juice on my iPhone taking pictures and loading them to Instagram (like a stupid teenager) and I stupidly forgot my Lightning charger cable to charge the phone with my emergency battery.  I had to go to the 5th Ave Best Buy as the Fifth Ave Apple Store had the worst service, 12 or more people walked by me and didn’t offer me help (i.e. helping me buy the Lightning cable as Apple long ditched the checkout lines.)

So yeah, if there was ever an emergency, I would think it’s important to have a payphone functioning at least for every dozen blocks, I would suppose.


POTD: Ralph Lauren 5th Avenue Store

From little of what I know about Ralph Lauren, it appears they are an Avaya Red shop in some capacity (Joe the UCX Guy featuring an enterprise class) and my local outlet using a Partner (or I should use it in air quotes.)

I have my own opinions of Mister Ralph. a) I can never afford his stuff (the local Macy’s is once in a blue moon) b) I find it more suitable for older people (that Denim and Supply line, I mean really?) if not for older people then more Country Club-types. And of course c) he legally changed his last name from a borderline expletive to allegedly a film crush with the now late Lauren Bacall? Also am I supposed to be pronouncing his name like the female given name or the long e at the end?

Well anyways, here is a Siemens set taken from the sales floor on Saturday. The interesting question would be is did they go to Siemens or were they legacy ROLM users?

IMG_5733 IMG_5734

On the other hand here are some sets I didn’t (or wasn’t able to) capture but noticed

The Times Square Aeropostale uses an Avaya Blue Norstar system. For many years the non flagship Aeropostale stores used some analog Centrex, MPLS, or maybe VOIP terminated to analog phone service, up until the last couple months they had fallen into the Cisco bandwagon. Aeropostale is doing very lousy and is in danger of ether going out of business or being sold. Friday’s close was around a couple US dimes. What turned me away from there was all the shirts having these stupid embroidered fabric that is better for little kids. It’s hard to wash, then you have “loose” fabric, etc.

A Ruby Tuesday on the outskirts of Times Square had a Norstar system. (Nice service while I had lunch with the mother.)

The Apple Store on 5th Avenue (lousy service just like if you’re in the burbs. Another topic for another day) had clerks carrying around Cisco 7921 like wireless sets. This isn’t a surprise. Cisco has crept its way through Apple over the years, and now it’s gone to their VOIP or telephones. Most Apple Stores are still an Avaya IP Office shop with most of the wired sets tucked into drawers on the sales floors.

A Best Buy where I got better service, downtown a few blocks had Cisco.

The operations for the Fox News Channel still uses Avaya 8400 and 6400 sets. From what I know at the 1211 6th Ave facility, that the few first floors of the building are for FNC, Floors 7 to 8 (or 9?) is for The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s.

Once located at the World Financial Center (using a Meridian 1 system), they went to VOIP when the built the new facilities within 1211. An interesting note, on a blog I once found a picture of  Roger Ailes, the head of FNC having both an 8434 and a Cisco set. Without getting into a political discussion, it would not be a surprise he has a direct line to a paper that could favor his views. (WSJ is a joke today and I am a big fan of markets and corporate news.)

I did not set foot inside 30 Rock, but I’ve seen on MSNBC on cable with more and more Cisco 8900 sets. It’s apparent that NBC wants to do away with Avaya at least at their New York operations more and more. They relocated their Southland facilities from Avaya in Burbank to Cisco in Universal City 2 years ago, their other hubs in Texas has been wired to Cisco and I can go on and on seeing yet another customer of Avaya Red disappear.

Many financial institutions are using Cisco (walked by Capital One Bank, TD Bank, JPMorgan, etc.)

Phone of the Day: Avaya Red 7400 Series Voice Terminal – Macy’s 34th Street

Yours truly was Live from New York yesterday. Put it this way, I saw more Avaya Red sets this time around than Ciscos. A couple Avaya Blues here and there.

I don’t know much of the history of the original Macy’s. Macy’s went under 2 decades ago, and was sequentially boughtout by Federated Department stores that went on a buying spree of regional department stores; then in 2005 made their big buyout of the May Department Store chain of brands. Between the Federated and May buyouts Macy’s was in almost every mid sized city than prior to. Most of the Macy’s around where I live used to be the brands of Jordan Marsh and Filene’s both using/used ROLM CBX switches.

What’s interesting is I’ve been to Jordan Marsh/Macy’s stores and they had resemblance to the flagship 34th Street store, while former Filenes still has resemblance of the pre-Macy’s buyout, but by default all first level stores has that signature all white look. More non telephony related subjects to this store I set foot for the first time on the above link.

Now from what I can tell Macy’s uses an Avaya Red PBX. This one appears to go back in the System 75 days. Now I didn’t see if this thing worked, because in Release 14 (branded as 4.x)  of their enterprise PBX system, they depreciated the 7400s because the four-wire cards carried a lot of legacy code (from what I’ve read on the list serves, just dumping the 7400 DCP drivers gave Avaya some million lines of code removed.)

This particular model I forget, because AT&T made various models in the 10 year period, it may be a 7410 BIS set. Also, just because the 8400s released in the early 1990s, it was not a surprise to still have a part number (known as Comcodes or PECs) – I believe some models of the 7400 were still orderables in the first year of the Avaya spinoff (early 2000-late 2001.) If you were still on the 7400s at that point, Avaya did want you to go to the 6400 series (crap sets.)

More to come throughout the week.


Phones @ Work – CBS Radio New York

The Embedded photos were taken directly from the Flickr servers with no intention to violate any copyright. I do not own the rights of the content embedded. 

There is a large account of images taken at the NBC New York complex by a guy named Dennis Degan, a staffer for the network including the competition. According to these series of photos, he visited the new CBS Hudson Square studios for the CBS-owned radio stations when it opened in 2009. The facilities are extremely modern, VOIP for desktops, IP based audio boards, IP based audio processing, etc. CBS merged all of their 6 or so radio stations to one physical plant in a nondescript building that appears to have a Chase bank on the street level.

Basically this studio facility uses Avaya Blue, perhaps the CS1000, and a shot of their data center shows a 6 button Unity analog set.

Their datacenter is cool, it looks very clean, and something out of a sci-fi film.

CBS, whether people like it or not, believes in centralized operations, and basically the stations are now “brands”  as opposed to actual stations providing actual quality of news, talk or music. The real value is the talent. There is one series of management across each market as opposed to each station and whether you like it or not, stations have limited say of what they want on their station.

WCBS 880 and 1010 WINS were for about 20something years owned by separate companies, Group W (Westinghouse’s broadcast unit) and the radio unit of CBS. When the two companies decided to just get married instead of having a cozy relationship (google “The Big Switch of 1995”) the stations would become sisters, but for nearly another 15 years, the stations would border on literally stabbing each other for ratings and power.

This ended in 2011 when WCBS 880 was summoned to the new Hudson Square radio facility along with 1010 WINS. WCBS came from the TV studios at West 57th Street for a 11 years and for 34 years at the corporate headquarters on the 16th floor at Black Rock, at West 52nd Street. WCBS 880 (or Newsradio 88 right before the year 2000) was literally a time machine stuck in 1967  when the all-news format launched. As they moved to West 57th October of that year they left behind their 1A2 phones from the 80s, they were still using 8 track (err “cart” tapes) to do reporting before a gradual change to DAT and computerized playback and visual appearance of the studio remained unchanged until they left.

Compared to 33 years of technology going dated, it only took about 9 years (when the new CBS studios opened) but it was actually about 11 years, 880’s TDM technologies became outdated. So sadly in the end of 2011, WCBS moved to all the other radio facilities in lower Manhattan and was within arms length to their archival.

If people are wondering, the IP technology used for the audio boards and for phone calls, as a listener it appears to work flawlessly.  Lot of people would probably get skittish with the idea of using internet networking to control audio, playback, etc.

CBS’ hardware is not very consistent to say their branding, Boston and LA seems to be running on dated radio equipment. The Southland studios had opened about 10 years ago and they decided to use digital signaling as opposed to IP and Boston was still using DOS like applications for playback (and they probably still do for WBZ radio – which to me that station is a joke.)


Rockerfeller Center Storefront with a multiline 2500 Set





I wished I made log of where I saw this phone, I am blanking at the name and meant to look it up. If someone can help me – I’d appreciate it. It was a shoe store near Rockerfeller Plaza in Manhattan taken in April of 2015.

I saw this in a spur of the moment. If you see in the other picture the 1960s style desk.


Office Telephones: Comdial Impact Telephone – TD Bank – Midtown Manhattan, NY

This picture is hard to see due to the sunset (because the sun sets earlier among the tall buildings) and with sudden light changes, my camera doesn’t reflect it as well – thanks to the photographer – being me!


This was taken at a TD Bank branch in Manhattan in the middle of New York City last weekend. This was one of the very few places that didn’t have Cisco IP telephones (Most of the Big Banks, the Hard Rock Cafe – where I had lunch, and stopped at an American Eagle Outfitters store in Times Square were the ones I saw Ciscos.)

This Comdial Impact 8312 telephone works on small Comdial KSU switches and probably is compatible with the Vertical systems as well. At one time, Comdial was very popular in the interconnect market.

I’m not sure what bank this was before, it could’ve been TD, before merging with the Maine based Banknorth many years ago.

Cisco Phones – Chase Branch, Midtown Manhattan, NY


This Chase branch shows how its like to be a standup associate! It’s all the rage now to keyboard, and make calls standing up. I don’t see a problem with that, my only problem is seeing this Cisco 7961/62 on this desk.

I don’t find Cisco really that of a great telephony solution. If you don’t like Avaya, where else are you supposed to go? Open source PBX and say Polycom for sets? I’d take my poison and take Cisco.

Cisco for a long time designed telephony for the network administrator. Lots of Internet Protocol terminology is used to set up voice system, and well mixing IP and telecom lingo together creates unpredictable results. The CallManager (or whatever it’s current identity as being the software PBX solution) was a pretty complex system to implement and it required Cisco certifications to figure out how to use the damn thing. The management console is a web server by accessing it’s IP address, and its heavily ridden with long pages and radio buttons and drop down menus that is required to enter in. Later versions supposedly are easier to configure. Supposedly. They never made a real solid operator/attendant solution, and inability to have more than 6 or more call appearances or monitor other extensions with a page down like button in 2015 is strange! Nortel, Mitel and Avaya have done this for years with their LCD screen phones.

I don’t want to be hypocrite, because I have a Cisco system in production at the moment, but I never remembered any interconnect system in so many places by a single vendor. It makes Avaya’s dominance look like child’s play. Even when they dominated 90% of the Fortune 500, that same figure didn’t have Avaya everywhere. Some had Nortels, and other interconnect vendors. Cisco is a different animal, once you get Cisco on one site, they’ll give you an incentive to put Cisco phones everywhere. It’s a little of a weasel of a business practice, but I’ll just leave it at that as I’m digressing.

Cisco Phones Citi Branch, Midtown Manhattan



There was tons of places of large businesses and corporations in New York which were once customers of Avaya Red and Avaya Blue or others, but many are replaced with Cisco. The only large enterprise I saw with an Avaya was the earlier picture I posted and the Rockefeller Plaza.

This is taken at a desk on a street level branch of Citibank