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Open letter to Cisco regarding the UC320 platform

Level 1
Level 1


I have never in my life been exposed to a "production" piece of equipment with so many bugs, missing features and oddities as the UC320. While I am sure many of you are working hard to reign in the problems, this platform is an utter embarrassment that should be in the preliminary alpha stages, not a channel product being sold to end users.

It is clear that Cisco has little understanding of how SMALL business works and how SMALL partners work with small business customers. A larger partner may be able to string a larger business along with promises of bug fixes and feature additions while charging them to make things right and.or padding the overall cost to account for the callbacks. True small businesses don't have the time, patience or money to deal with problematic hardware. When a partner sells a small business a piece of technology, it better work (at a reasonable cost) or the technology and the partner are out the door.

I was extremely excited when this system was announced and saw great potential for small business customers and an alternative to the Avaya Partner IP and other platforms targeted at the same demographic. I jumped in and put a UC320 in the office of one of my small customers. This whole experience has cost me the trust of a client and is going to end up costing me $3000-$4000 out of pocket (hardware, labor, travel) to make things right with the customer.

As it stands, countless hours have been spent trying to get this system to operate in a reasonably stable and productive manner. At this time the UC320 system has been reset and reconfigured in KEY mode (this time using 2.1.3(0), as the problems with steering digits, call routing and redial in "hybrid mode" made the system more than a little cumbersome to use. Now in KEY mode, caller ID only works on some stations AFTER a call is picked up. On one station, incoming calls are somehow routed to the "Phone Monitor" buttons instead of the "Shared FXO Line" buttons. The user has to press the monitor button to pick up a call, but the call does not always ring at the station so she has to watch for the lights. While the caller ID functionality is a bit better after the latest firmware update, it is still far from working properly. These basic call routing problems are not reasonable and not acceptable, period. The customer is tired of "we are working on it" and so am I.

Other problems (to mention a few):

  • The GUI is full of buggy behavior. One example if many: The impendence matching dialog only works the first time around and then the GUI loses track of what it is doing and must be reset.
  • It takes 7-10 minutes for the GUI to load to the login screen over a remote connection. The UC320 is connected to a Verizon DSL, while not blazing fast it is a decent connection. Initial GUI loading on the LAN is almost as bad.
  • The IE9 product that ships with every new Windows computer is not compatible with the GUI. This is not reasonable.
  • The AA is somewhat unpredictable with regard to picking up calls and sometimes results in a busy tone and dropped call, even if the call is the ONLY call on the system. Sometimes the prompts are garbled and sometimes the AA does not even pick up.
  • Steering digit redial issue - still not addressed. Redial on hybrid mode is useless, as is the phonebook.
  • Caller ID only works part of the time, yet on every other system I have ever used, it works 100% of the time. This is not acceptable.
  • Answered calls on shared FXO lines show as MISSED on other stations with those lines. The workaround: remove the missed calls display feature. This is not acceptable.
  • Thus UC320 is not happy unless it is the only router, DHCP and DNS client on the LAN. The grayfield implementation appears to fail no matter what LAN topology and equipment are used. This device is far from friendly to the typical SBS or existing LAN with a dedicated DNS and/or DHCP server.
  • The handsets have a cheap feel to them compared to the Avaya and other competitors phones.
  • The sound quality of the ringtones is almost laughable if not sad
  • The speakerphone quality and overall voice quality are not as good as the competition's.
  • The filtering functionality of the logging feature does not appear to work properly
  • Firmware updates often result in a HANG condition where either the GUI needs reset, the system needs a physical reset and/or sometimes defaulted
  • Firewall port forwarding rule oddities where a rule is deleted from the gui but is still active in the firewall, yet the inability to easily use another data router to work around this problem.
  • The inability of the device to properly use the LAN port for INTERNET based functionality (Time for example) if the WAN port is NOT connected,
  • countless other 'issues" raised in the support forum and other venues...

These are ALL very basic functions that one would expect to be fixed BEFORE a basic telephone system platform is released for production. It is absolutely unreasonable for a CUSTOMER to have to put up with a system this buggy and it is absolutely unreasonable for a partner to have to devote this much time and money to getting system to work at even a very basic level of functionality.

To repeat the scenario: This config is as basic as it gets running 2.1.3(0) with (3) system phones, (3) users, (2) pots trunks and that's it. There are no odd call routing scenarios, no complex AA rules or schedules (in fact the AA is defaulted, including prompts). All (3) system phones have BOTH shared FXO lines (KEY MODE). Each and every firmware version has been tried and the system has been defaulted numerous times. The system fails to meet even the most basic expectations of myself or the end user and has become a sore spot between our company and a very good client.

I am somewhat baffled, if not outright bothered by the fact that this device is riddled with so many problems and the fixes are taking so long to be implemented, if at all. I have been asked (ordered) by the customer to get this "hunk of crap" out of their office and replace it with something that works "at no additional cost". I could not agree with the customer more...

A very unhappy Cisco Partner.

William Burnett

53 Replies 53

Hi Tony;

Thanks for your email. Could you send me an email to amontill at cisco dot com? I will investigate the availability of a demo unit for you (no compromise yet :-).



John Hoyt
Level 1
Level 1

I sure hate to be THAT guy, but I guess I am.   I loved the idea of providing an entry level system to my clients.   Heck, I have one sitting on our conference table to go out (UC320W w/half a dozen SPA512s), but it's just missing a few key elements that our clients are asking for...

The sad thing is - some of the capability is already hidden within the system, but not supported, nor will they allow it to be opened and used.

I had hopes that we would see some features materialize that would place the UC300 series in a position for us to market it and beat out some of the other people with a name brand that was trusted.

Soft phones (Write a windows/mac based SPA504 and sidecar clone... fixes that too!  No changes to any UC code)

Remote teleworker

Generic SIP devices (gosh, that would fix everything, being able to put SIP client on an Android or iPhone would rock)

Port forwarding (Yes I know, they should have a firewall in front of it, but our clients are *thrifty*... Or optionally working more smoothly as just an appliance)

Support for the SPA cordless phones

Support for the SPA500SD sidecar

Call blocking

I don't see a single one of these items as being anywhere near hard to accomplish.

The clients we have been trying to reach are simply not going to spend the additional money on the UC500 series. They will stick with their 20 year old key system, OR go with the fellas offering the other boxes.


I agree that an entry level system is important, but I think Cisco need to help some of the partners find the right mix for the right solution. I've been selling IP systems all the was back to the NBX before 3com bought them. I know with most clients once we get above roughly 10 handset to convince to move a UC540. I mean typically when it comes to phone systems its a 10-15 year investment for the customers. So its not hard to get them to spend the additonal $1200 to upsize to a UC540. I can't tell you how many feature basic (by today' standards) AT&T partners I find to be replaced after a frankenstein mix of AT&T, Lucent, & Avaya modules keeping the thing floating where customers have been hosed by their previous phone vendors getting way a G note for a replacement module.

The UC320W generally operates better as a keyed system. If you are thinking Autoattendent, basicly keep it simple and don't try to bounce calls all over with execisve routing

I think everyone is missing more important features in the basic box just to make it functioal. I never slap equipment in customers on just some lousy shelf in a dirty closet. Company's like Middle Atlantic Make inexpensive racks like the WM-8-12 or the SPM-4. I ALWAYS use patch panels, none of this slap connectors on the end of runs. Some of the partners need to stop crying and come up with better integration practices. You can easily make pre canned configurations that are backedup and restored to new systems. We do tons of doctors office's with UC320Ws without issue, however I KNOW the limitations of the system.

If you want to make integration easier for me

     1     Rack Mount Ears:     Put in a ISA550W frame so UC320W

     2     POE:                       Give me the 4 Ports POE, I'm typicall selling them with SF302-8P

     3     Firewall:                   I have to addin RV110 to get more firewall functnality

     4     VLAN:                     I have to add RV110 to get additonal VLANs for guest, When I add WAP121
     5     SSID:                      Get me 4, like all other SMB products, again I have to add WAP121 in small locations

     6     Antenna:                 Give me removable antennas, I can add on attennas, such as

They call the UC540 a swiss army knife PBX/POE Switch/Firewall/Wi-Fi AP. Make the UC320W comperable on smaller scale.

OR GO the appliance route.

I can definately say from experience that if you try to go CHEAP route with equipment you are going to get burned. All our Sales are a consulataive sales and we should be pushing the value of the RIGHT solution not what the cheapest way in to get phone functionality. The UC320W has a fit and its not for every client.

Just to add my 2 cents.I have 3 customers using the Cisco UC320W. Two of the 3 have 6 phones, and the 3rd are running 21 phones.

All three places are experiencing issues with their setup.

I had purchased Smartnet for the devices, and still do no get any answers to the issues, other than rebuilding the unit.

The unit they want rebuilt is my customer with 21 phones. Clearly I would like this as the last resort, but that is the requested support them are giving me.

Some of the issues we are facing are:

1. If a user is on a call, and receptionist transfers an incoming call to that user, the incoming call gets "inserted' into the ongoing conversation. (almost like a conference) however the incoming caller cannot be heard if they speak, thus the original user is not aware the caller is listening.

2. If a user is on a call, and receptionist transfers an incoming call to that user, not only does the phone flash that an incoming call is coming in, but the user hears a rining in his handset/ear piece! This continues to happen even if the incoming caller hangs up. The call never gets terminated and continues to ring in his ear.

These are only 2 of many issues my customers are experiencing. I currently have 2 quotes "on hold" as we are deciding whether we are going to move forward with Cisco devices.


I would run from Cisco SMB products as fast and hard as you can. The problems with UC320 are systemic and run through (riddle) the entire SMB product line. That is, the problems are more than just software bugs.It appears that Cisco from the top down is simply not capable of understanding or managing a product that has to both cost effective and reliable for SMB. There is simply no reasonable excuse for the state of these products. WE have had NOTHING but problems with the SMB lines including  UC, RV and AS and new wirelss crap. To that end the ASA stuff is not bad, but in the same price range, Juniper Astaro and several other vendors build more capable UTM/Firewall devices that encompase reliable unified Wifi, UTM etc. With a straight face I can honestly say that Cisco is the ONLY product we sell that has consistantly caused us irrepariable damage with our customers. We are constantly having to make excuses and/or eat costs related to Cisco's failure to produce a quality SMB product or deliver fixes in a reasonable (if ever) timeframe. We are systematically ripping out any and ALL Cisco SMB products at our client sites and have moved on to more reliable, better supported solutions. My only regret is the fact that I have been lured in by the Cisco nonsense over and over.


I was reading this forum, and I certainly wish I would of read it 6 months ago. Of course, with technology like this, our customers do not possess the knowledge in regards to the fundamentals of basic networking, let alone VoiP.

Thus, in their eyes, the problem lies with my company, and our inability to repair there issues.

It is very disheartening to say the least.

That is the typical mode of operation for Cisco and why the entire SMB product line is such a failure.

Cisco's only perspective is through they eyes of big business where the contracted solution almost always fail to deliver the promised feature set. Cisco and the integrator/partner derive their profit delivering endless bug fixes and call back to delivere promised (yet undelivered) features. The expense gets lost in the economy of scale and the big business simply attributes the expendature to the "cost of doing business". The Cisco partner laughs the whole way to the bank, as does Cisco.

What Cisco has failed to realize (in 10+ years of trying) is that SMALL business will simply not put up with that crap and the delivered solution has to be the PROMISED solution, or the PARTNER gets tossed out the door. Cisco has cost us money and goodwill with our customers and that is exactly opposite of what a vendor is supposed to do.

If you go back a year (maybe 2) you will see that Cisco offered to host a high level call with us to talk about the issues we were experiencing. We declined because we knew it would be filled with nothing but platitudes and promises that would never be delivered and in the end the customer would still be left floundering. Here 2 years later, the state of the UC320 and the other SMB products are living proof that my feelings were spot on.

To William (and Cisco,)

Honestly, I like Cisco.

I like their  "openess" (you can find documentation and help on almost anything  anywhere), the contribution they make to industry by their huge R&D  effort (more than all their competition combined....or so I've been  told...), the accessibility and responsiveness of some of their key  people in the distribution channel, and yes, I like the ecosystem in  terms of support, tons of free education and sales support for both  their SMB and classic enterprise solutions.

Having said that, I thank God for people like William  Burnett, who I am sure opened the eyes of many partners about the things  that are horrendously wrong with some of the products in the SMB  portfolio, most notably the UC320. I think it is fair to say, that  William has effectively "killed" it (the UC320) in it's present  incarnation. That is, unless Cisco, decides to really rise to the  challenge and fix a product that at first seemed ideal for the small  enterprise, but which was poorly implemented in terms of QC and in some  cases design.

We certainly are not going to be touching the UC320  with a 10ft pole now Nobody wants (or can afford to) get a bad name by  selling "trouble" to your Mom&Pop shops or to people whose trust you  worked hard to gain and who are really depending on you to deliver. Not  in this economy....not ever.

Coming from a Nortel telephony background, its really  hard to accept that having to respond to trouble calls or complaints  continuously from customers when Nortel products worked so reliably. In  fact, Nortel Norstar is so reliable as a key system that people joke ,  that's why they went out of business, they couldn't generate enough  turnover in new sales on account of people holding on to their Norstar's  forever.

As a seller/installer/user of Cisco voice (UC540) and CME there are a couple recommendations I would like to make to Cisco:

1)Private line emulation - inability to transfer or conference calls on a private line.  (using the TRUNK XX command) on the CME/UC500 platforms needs to be  significantly improved in order to keep up with the competition:

for  one, when you select a private line and make a call you cannot transfer  that call. Every other system I have worked with allows you to do this.  This for me is a glaring "defect/design flaw". I spent a lot of time  trying to get this "fixed" as I couldnt believe that Cisco would just  omit such a basic function when all their competition  has it. (You dont  even think about this when dealing with other systems.) Its just  expected.

2)Private line emulation - Inability to reflect the dialed number in the Call Detail Records for calls made via a "private line". If you select a private line on the UC500 or  CME and make a call, the dialed number would not show up in the CDR. I  have programmed systems from Nortel (Norstar, BCM,CS1000), Avaya - (IP  Office 500, Partner Plus, and S8x00 Communication Servers) as well as  various systems from Mitel and
Panasonic .  The CDR packages for these systems are very well implemented and  documented. Cisco's systems are well documented as well, but this is an  area of the implementation where Cisco falls behind the competition. I am sure this can be fixed, but for some reason, despite a number of requests, it hasnt.

In  trying to understand why it is Cisco, with such a huge R&D budget,  can't seem to get some things working properly that the competiton has  long ago solved and moved on with, I have come to the conclusion that it  must be that Cisco propably didnt tap enough of the right (human)  resources when it was developing its voice portfolio, and the lack of  industry experience shows up in some random places. Sad to say, not  paying attention to some of these details, to real world usage  scenarios, makes what would be an otherwise super product, just good  enough.

Cisco is the biggest networking vendor on  the planet. People have a right to have high exectations of Cisco. Their  marketing also conditions users and partners to expect more when using  their solutions. While we accept that no one is perfect, not even the  mighty Cisco, I think most of the complaints and dissapointment  expressed in this forum, on this particular thread, are justified  because there is a strong feeling that if Cisco can be such a  trailblazer with their enterprise portfolio, that they should have  understood the importance of ensuring and enforcing good quality control  in the design and manufacture of the SMB portfolio. I honestly hope  someone from "Corporate" or high enough to make a differnce, looks at  this thread started by William and uses it to inspire the will to fix  what needs to be fixed to redeem the UC320 in whatever incarnation, in  the eyes of its partners (even former ones....such as William)and  customers. This is beginning to look like a textbook case of how not to  do product development.

Hey William,

I'm a pure IOS guy, only use Catalysts and IOS Routers without any problems for more than 10 years now.

The last year I was looking at the SMB products and when it comes to voice I totally agree with you!

But I don't want everyone think Cisco SMB sucks as you stated, I never experienced any problems with SG300 and 500 switches, also RV180, ISA570 firewalls and WAP121. So, there are a few products which works very well. (My experiance from the last year).

Agree that Cisco doesn't understand what SMB really is, but when you came from the IOS level and have a look to the SMB line and compare the prices, then you think "Ok, for SMB stuff this is ok". If you're an SMB guy from the beginning I totally agree with you (and many others here)

Just my 2c

Michael Please rate all helpful posts

Hello Ted,

I have sent you a private message through the SR opened for this issue. Please let us know your availability and one of our senior Engineers will reach out to you to assess the issue and determine the viable next steps to resolve the problem. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions.



Level 1
Level 1

I have to agree with William on this.

Being a Cisco reseller, sold this to a family members business, replacing an old but stable PABX.

A countless number of problems, I am there every week without a doubt.

-Some- of the problems encountered are:

NTP Updates - eventhough the PMF for LAN NTP is setup.

Calls stop connecting - The unit requires a reboot on this atleast once a week.

Frequent call quality issues on FXO ports - eventhough the Lines have been Impedence matched

The ability to forward a hunt group via the handset missing

Ringing/Alert of call via the external page missing

STILL the lack of Wireless IP handset support

A huge disappointment for a customer starting in the Cisco realm of products.


I know its not the same as IP wireless, but have you considered using a good cordless phone or two for the areas which require wireless support as a temp work around?

Wholeheartedly agree with everything William has said.  I love the concept of the product, have been a beta tester of it and wished it well, offered feedback and watched it been dropped as Cisco SMB was reorganised and taken into 'big Cisco.'  It has been a product that has been left unfinished - I also feel very sorry for people like Alberto who have put so much effort into it and have obviously seen resources dissapear. 

Cisco will no doubt discontinue this product due to a lack of sales success - all us partners know it is bug ridden and Cisco failed to deliver on the promised feature sets in the early roadmaps. 

It came to the market unfinished as frequently happens with Cisco products (BE3K anyone?!) - it's a shame to watch it wither and die but is just not fit for purpose.

I hope one day they'll take the heads out of their backsides and realise that SMB means different things in different countries - and for the UK this is a highly relavent product.

John Hoyt
Level 1
Level 1

Ugggghh. I am not going to beat a dead horse here.

I really like the UC320W for our smaller clients. I'm not aware of anything else in its price range that covers as many of the most requested and needed features.

That being said - I would love for Cisco to come to the realization that an investment into this device could carry it into the future.
It could be so much more, with such a small investment!

Sent from Cisco Technical Support iPad App

Level 1
Level 1


I have just purchased UC320W with 5x SPA 303 Phones

I just saw these comments and it put me off a bit.

Does UC320W have a client for Android and iPhone ?

I want to give a remote extesion to a cell phone via Internet only.

Is it a supported feature ?