A voice lab rack usually utilizes dedicated piece of hardware to simulate PSTN switch. Commonly, you can find a Cisco router in this role, with a number of E1/T1 cards set to emulate ISDN network side. It perfectly suits the function, switching ISDN connections between the endpoints. Additionally, it is often required to have an “independent” PSTN phone connected to the PSTN switch, in order to represent “outside” dialing patterns – such as 911, 999, 411 1-800/900 numbers. The most obvious way to do this is to enable a CallManager Express on the PSTN router, and register either hardware IP Phone or any of IP Soft-phones (such as IP Blue or CIPC) with the CME system.

However, there is another way to accomplish the same goal using IOS functionality solely. It relies on the IP-to-IP gateway feature, called “RTP loopback” session target. It is intended to be used for VoIP call testing, but could be easily utilized to loopback incoming PSTN calls to themselves. Let’s say we want PSTN router to respond to incoming calls to an emergency number 911. Here is how a configuration would look like:

voice service voip
 allow-connections h323 to h323
interface Loopback0
 ip address
dial-peer voice 911 voip
 destination-pattern 911
 session target ipv4:
 incoming called-number 999
 tech-prefix 1#
dial-peer voice 1911 voip
 destination-pattern 1#911
 session target loopback:rtp
 incoming called-number 1#911

The trick is that only IP-to-IP calls could be looped back. Because of that, we need to redirect the incoming PSTN call to the router itself first, in order to establish an incoming VoIP call leg.

While this approach permits VoIP call testing, it lacks one important feature, available with the “real” PSTN phone: placing calls from the PSTN phone to the in-rack phones. However, you can always use “csim start” command on the PSTN router to overcome this obstacle. Have fun!

About Petr Lapukhov, 4xCCIE/CCDE:

Petr Lapukhov's career in IT begain in 1988 with a focus on computer programming, and progressed into networking with his first exposure to Novell NetWare in 1991. Initially involved with Kazan State University's campus network support and UNIX system administration, he went through the path of becoming a networking consultant, taking part in many network deployment projects. Petr currently has over 12 years of experience working in the Cisco networking field, and is the only person in the world to have obtained four CCIEs in under two years, passing each on his first attempt. Petr is an exceptional case in that he has been working with all of the technologies covered in his four CCIE tracks (R&S, Security, SP, and Voice) on a daily basis for many years. When not actively teaching classes, developing self-paced products, studying for the CCDE Practical & the CCIE Storage Lab Exam, and completing his PhD in Applied Mathematics.

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