Remembering Avaya: NYS Govt | Albany, New York

Some photos that never were posted (by accident.) They had been uploaded in 2012. I wanted to post these sets on my other portals and wondered where they went.

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These phones were tied to an inhouse name called the CAPNET known as the Capital Region Network, at it’s height in the late 1980s, early 1990s using at least 80,000 lines on their private network across Albany, and other Capital Region locations and a branch office of 1740 Broadway in Manhattan, New York City. Every other state office building used other vendors, most notably the Nortel Centrex, the Meridian 1, and Cisco’s UCM line of products. I never knew NYS had been a heavy user of Avaya (and that goes without saying) at their flagship city till a decade ago.

Even more, there is no other network reportedly using this number of non IP-heavy lines in any of it’s thirty three year history of the modern day PBX marketed by Avaya today. A System 75 peaks at 600 to 1,200 lines; a System 85 maxed at 30,000, a 5th release of Definity G3r supported 25,000 lines; and most enterprises would link 75s and a few 85s but not in this scale. Documents via NYS’s IT agency and media reports in the late 1980s claimed then network used fiber and microwave plus the DCS linking protocol to link these ol AT&T PBX systems for transparent dialing across a desk, one of the four smaller buildings in Empire State Plaza, or across the Hudson River to a Troy based office. (Yeah, I’m a New York geek, both the city and upstate, I’ll admit I visited NYS/NYC more as a child/teenager then I did with Boston and Southern New England and as an adult.)

The pictured room above had 8400 sets. So this is the Senate Chambers, where the New York State Senate gathers. The Assembly, in an other wing, doesn’t have Avaya sets per se.

These previously posted pictures shown below is an Aastra telephone, of which I am not sure what they are. I will doubt it’s an intercom and/or basic telephones. They share the same shell as Cisco’s/Selisus VIP series sets.

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In January of 2017, some of the Large Carrier Cabinets were spotted on their eBay store. And I believe there were lucky bidders. The phone that sat on top of the carriers was a Cisco 6821. We know whose being replaced…

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.)

 

Phones @ Work – NBC Operations in 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. He has a Flickr account where you can see tons of pictures from his day job, mixed in with some vintage NBC, and other stations he was affiliated with in his career.

He also has shown pictures from the competition, such as the new CBS Hudson Square facility for the CBS Radio stations, etc. This page would please any type of geek when it comes to engineering.

It appears more recently he has posted images of things that exist today. NBC had a very strict rules for no photo rules if you went on the NBC tours (I went there twice) and I think the rules even applied if say you wanted to meet with WNBC’s Chuck Scarborough, a visitor, friend of him. Pictures that you could see on his flickr was things that were torn down, relocated, etc. NY NBC seemed to do a lot of window-dressing in terms of edit rooms, control rooms because the album in itself is about 1000 photos, a vast majority was within the last 10 years, all of which is no longer what it looks like today.

As I digress, in today’s post, I wanted to show a few pictures with the phones NBC uses. Since the late 1980s, NBC was mostly an Avaya Red (dating from AT&T) for most of the properties they owned. Most of the flagship owned and operated stations and hubs used Avaya as well except for a few stations such as Florida, Philadelphia and some stations they previously owned. Those sites use Avaya Blue and Mitel. Nowendays NBC Universal, is owned by Comcast which they have their own mixed hardware setups in the cable biz.

Today, the fact is NBC has slowly been jumping on the Cisco bandwagon. They had recently built a facility for Dallas, which uses Cisco, their historic Burbank studios in LA had left their Avaya system behind in lieu of a Cisco IP Telephony system, and now 30 Rock is a victim (or lucky customer – depending on how you look at it.)  The fact if NBC in New York will go all Cisco is another unanswered question. (I obviously don’t use Flickr anymore and I’m not sure if he would know.)

Most of what’s based out of New York is the studios, offices and news operations for the Nightly News, MSNBC, WNBC-TV 4, the studios for Seth Myers, SNL, a small bureau for CNBC and all the other technical operations for the network.

NBC had all 3 generations of DCP sets, the 7400s, the 8400s and the 6400s, and VOIP wasn’t used that much. They had so much phone cabling, probably it was easier for the data network especially to pipe out HD video which can be about a gigabyte for each minute uncompressed. If you go and tour The Top of the Rock (like I did earlier this year), they use Avaya sets, and I’m presuming it was tied to the NBC system. Oh and NBC used tons of Avaya 8434s, the default set for mission control environments

Now back to the Cisco/Avaya, some pictures have Avaya, some have Cisco, like I said I don’t know if this is a slow transition or what. The newer control areas seem to have Cisco and some others. Another evidence of use of Cisco was in the infamous spoof of The Office Hobbit style on SNL last season. The skit apparently was taped in the building and many of the phones were the 8900 sets. Now granted, the show did feature Cisco phones, but I think these were the office phones used for NBC. I’ll post screengrabs on that later.

One other thing: NBC was the only NY-based network for a long time that had a PBX system for the entire building. That’s because first 7 floors in 30 Rock is all for NBC and ABC and CBS operations are in several different buildings – even in the same block. Those two networks appeared to have Centrex with many little key system for each show produced. West 57th is basically 4 buildings put together and the local ABC owned station is connected to the ABC headquarters by a firewall (as separate buildings) and the following post on the Ed Sullivan Theater shows the separate types of systems even in a single city for a company. In short, NBC had the most unified voice network.

Rockerfeller Center Storefront with a multiline 2500 Set

 

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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!

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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

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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.