cisco ip phones

I was handed two Cisco 7912 IP phones without any documentation and told that I just need to set up IP addresses on both to make calls from one to the other. I did this. The phones are on the same subnet. I can ping both and can even access their webservers for configuration. When I turn them on the message "Configuring IP" is displayed. During this period I can ping them and access both using a web browser and their IP address, then they reboot automatically and the process starts over. I'm beginning to think there's much more to this than just plugging two phones into a switch and using one phone to call the ip address of the other. As anyone knowlegeable knows, I've never used these phones before. Is there a simple way to use these phones to make a phone call without jumping through a lot of hoops?

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No, they were never designed to be just plugged in and make phone calls. They were designed to talk to Cisco CallManager. They reboot probably because they can't find a call manager to talk to.

Simplist thing to do? Find a service-provider that will support a cisco call manager setup for your phones, and let them bind to it and do your calls through that. Its a pretty involved setup, so service providers that offer such a thing don't let it go too cheap.

One of the cheapest things to do would be to set them up with SIP firmware, and setup an Asterisk box. (although the Skinny channel setup works on Asterisk, it doesn't work all that well, usually SIP does much better). You can get some fairly cheap service providers that would support Asterisk for VOIP calls.

If you wanted to go all Cisco, you could install a Cisco CallManager Express setup inhouse and have the phones bind to that. It works pretty well, but you'll still be doing a few thousand on the most basic hardware that supports CME.

What do you really want in the end? VOIP typically doesn't save you money for small setups.

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