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Group Paging and Headsets

Valued Contributor

Group Paging and Headsets

Hello again!

 

Is there a way to submit feedack/feature suggestions to the SoundPoint/UC software team?  While installing a bunch of SoundPoint 335s at a K-12 school recently, we ran into a frustrating limitation; I don't know that there is any hope in getting around it, since I found that the limitation is documented (even if it is not documented in the UC Admin Guide itself), but perhaps if the Polycom engineers knew how people were trying to use their products, it might help them to know where to concentrate improvement efforts.

 

The school wants to use the phones as a school-wide intercom and paging system.  This mostly works well.  The problem is that we planned to install a phone in the gymnasium as well, and hook the phone into the PA system there so that when the gym phone is paged (say, in an emergency situation), it can be heard throughout the gym.  In addition, if it is a two-way intercom call with auto-answer (voIpProt.SIP.alertInfo.1.value="Intercom", voIpProt.SIP.alertInfo.1.class="autoAnswer", and SIP INVITE contains "Alert-Info: Intercom" in it), we'd like for somebody in the gym to be able to walk over to the phone mounted on the wall, pick up the handset, and continue the conversation on that.

 

In order to hook the phone up to the sound system, we planned to use a Headset Buddy RJ-9 to mini-plug adapter (found at headsetbuddy.com, look for SKU 01-PC35-RJ9A).  Thus the gym sound system would "look" like a headset to the phone.

 

We have found that by disabling the speakerphone/hands-free mode (up.handsfreeMode="0") and enabling the headset mode (up.headsetMode="1", up.audioMode="1"), we can get the phone to automatically output auto-answer calls ("Alert-Info: Intercom") to the headset, which is great and exactly what we want.

 

Unfortunately, if someone engages the Group Paging multicast feature of the Polycom phones (ptt.pageMode.enable="1") and then, for example, opens the emergency paging channel, the audio for that page will play out of the phone's speaker and not out of the headset, even if hands-free mode is disabled.  And there is no way that the speaker of the Soundpoint phones can fill the gymnasium.

 

After some searching, I found Polycom document FP62327 (http://support.polycom.com/global/documents/support/technical/products/voice/Group_Paging_and_PTT_FP... which describes the push-to-talk and group paging features.  On the first page, it details this unfortunate limitation: "Pages play only through the receiving phone’s speakerphone; pages cannot play through a headset or handset."

 

If not through the headset port, is there any other way that a Soundpoint phone can be hooked up to an external speaker?  And if not, then would Polycom be willing to entertain a request to have this particular limitation of the group paging feature lifted?

 

Thanks so much,

 

-- Nathan

Message 1 of 7
6 REPLIES 6
Polycom Employee & Community Manager

Re: Group Paging and Headsets

Hello Nathan,

The Community FAQ contains a post on how to request a feature request.

Posted from a mobile device



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The title Polycom Employee & Community Manager is an automatic setting within the community and any forum reply or post is based upon my personal experience and does not reflect the opinion or view of my employer.
Poly employee participation within this community is not mandatory and any post or FAQ article provided by myself is done either during my working hours or outside working hours, in my private time, and maybe answered on weekends, bank holidays or personal holidays.
Message 2 of 7
Valued Contributor

Re: Group Paging and Headsets

Thanks; I still haven't managed to figure this out on my own, so I will get hold of our vendor.  Unfortunately, even though it seems like a common-sense request, the FAQ entry did not inspire much hope in me that my lowly feature request submitted through that channel for this one potentially rare use-case will be taken seriously. :(

 

For other Polycom users perusing this forum, I guess what I really need is a way to attach an external speaker to the phone.  Is there anybody who has been in a similar position with a similar need that has come up with a clever solution to this, preferably one that doesn't involve opening up the phone and voiding the warranty by taking a soldering iron to the handsfree speaker leads? :)

 

I don't need an external microphone pickup/two-way audio, just external audio output.  It is impossible for the handsfree speaker on any SoundPoint IP phone to fill an entire gymnasium, so I need to pipe that audio to the PA system instead.  I thought that the headset port would be a natural way to accomplish this...and it does work, except for -- frustratingly! -- the group pages, which kind of defeats the whole purpose!

 

Surely someone has figured this out.  I realize that certain SoundStation conference phones can output to external speakers, but a conference phone would not be appropriate for a school gym.  I need a wall-mount phone with a handset and the capability to redirect the audio to an external source.  It seems like this should be easy, and an obvious application...

 

Thanks,

 

-- Nathan

Message 3 of 7
Polycom Employee & Community Manager

Re: Group Paging and Headsets

Hello Nathan,

submitting a feature request that will affect/benefit only one person will obviously have less attention than changes / enhancements affecting a wider audience.

Best Regards

Steffen Baier

Polycom Global Services




<======== Signature / Disclaimer ========>
Please be aware:For questions about the type of support to expect please check here

Please also ensure you always check the VoIP , Video Endpoint , Skype for Business , PSTN or RPM FAQ's

Please remember, if you see a post that helped you , and it answers your question, please mark it as an "Accept as Solution".

The title Polycom Employee & Community Manager is an automatic setting within the community and any forum reply or post is based upon my personal experience and does not reflect the opinion or view of my employer.
Poly employee participation within this community is not mandatory and any post or FAQ article provided by myself is done either during my working hours or outside working hours, in my private time, and maybe answered on weekends, bank holidays or personal holidays.
Message 4 of 7
Occasional Contributor

Re: Group Paging and Headsets

Hi Nathan,

Did you ever get anywhere with this??  We are installing a customer that needs overhead paging and want to do the same thing.

 

Thanks,

Greg

 

Message 5 of 7
Occasional Visitor

Re: Group Paging and Headsets

You'll have to forego using Polycom IP phones for overhead paging.  Take a look at the 8180 at arktel's website, as it supports Polycom paging and IP paging, independent of the phone. Basically, it is an IP Paging System that happens to support Polycom PTT and Polycom Paging and has a built-in amplifier and loudspeaker. We also use it with an outdoor loudspeaker in our school yards.  For the hearing disabled, we use green strobes on some of the units, like our gyms and hallways - something you can't do with the Polycom phone by itself. Our school uses the 8180 inside and outside as a softer style class bell to notify teachers and students it's time to change classes, lunch, recess, etc..  We also can also page out emergency messages and alerts.   The fact it works with Polycom PPT and Polycom Paging made our school board happy, which is hard to do, believe me. 

Message 6 of 7
Valued Contributor

Re: Group Paging and Headsets

I failed to return to this thread to update everyone on what we have done to work around this issue.  Since posting this, I have discovered that although Group Paging will always engage the built-in handsfree speaker in the SPIP phone, the Push-To-Talk feature will actually honor up.handsfreeMode="0", so I disabled Group Paging, enabled PTT, and retrained the staff to use PTT instead, and honestly, it is working pretty well (plus I suspect it is easier for them to just hold the Talk button to speak and then release to finish rather than having to remember to explicitly end the Group Paging session).

 

Hooking up an external speaker through the headset port using the Headset Buddy adapter does work, with a couple of caveats:

 

1) Naturally, if you want two-way audio when intercomming (auto-answer) a specific extension, you won't be able to use the phone's built-in microphone, but will be required to supply an external microphone to plug into the Headset Buddy in addition to the external speaker.  Kind of a drag, but understandable.

 

2) We discovered that whenever the phone is ON-hook (in a hung-up state, no active call), and the external speaker attached to the Headset Buddy is self-powered/amplified and connected to mains power, there will be a terrible ground-loop-esque (60Hz, in the U.S.) hum/buzz produced by the speaker.  It would seem that the phone's built in amp shuts off and the ground on the headset jack is left floating.  If you do not use AC-powered speakers (either no extra amplification or powered by batteries), there is no hum.  And when the phone is OFF-hook and an active call is taking place, the hum completely goes away.  Strangest audio ground loop problem I have ever run into.  (Do note that I have only tested SPIP335s in this configuration; other models may respond differently, although I would be surprised if they didn't behave the same way.)  Cheap ground-loop isolators help mitigate the issue but do not eliminate 100% of the noise.  We have found that by shorting the shield to the signal line in the audio cable with a low-ohm resistor, the problem is solved.

 

Finally, I also recently became aware of the Algo Solutions 8180 SIP Audio Alerter.  Great product, although the school at this time is not prepared to fork out the $$ to replace or augment all of the Polycom phones they purchased with 8180s.  (There are some rooms other than the gym where we did not anticipate that the SPIP335 speaker would not be loud enough.)  So for now, they will be getting a couple to help with the worst spots, and adding external speakers to phones in other rooms where a $300 8180 is overkill.  The fact that the Algo unit actually knows how to proxy standard SIP+RTP to Polycom's proprietary PTT format is fantastic, too, since it means that we can use one of the 8180s to allow staff with a non-Polycom SIP client (e.g., any basic soft-phone app running on a smartphone connected to WiFi) to initiate campus-wide Polycom PTT paging sessions.

 

-- Nathan

Message 7 of 7