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CallManager Express Setup for IP Phone Firmware Upgrade - How to Upgrade Your Cisco IP Phone Firmware

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This article will show how to configure CallManager Express (CME) for the IP phone firmware upgrade process. Upgrading your Cisco IP phones is generally a good practice, especially when upgrading your CallManager or CallManager Express version, as it will ensure all new options and features supported by your CallManager/CME system are also available to your IP phones.

Upgrading your Cisco IP phone firmware is a very simple process, however special consideration must be taken into account when upgrading to the latest firmware.

If the Cisco Unified IP phone is currently running firmware earlier than 6.0(2) on and you want to upgrade to 8.x(x), you must first install an intervening 7.0(x) load to prevent upgrade failure.

Cisco recommends using the most recent 7.0(3) load as the intervening load to avoid lengthy upgrade times.

If the Cisco Unified IP phone is currently running firmware 6.0(2) to 7.0(2) and you want to upgrade to 8.x(x), you can do so directly. However, expect the upgrade to take twice as long as usual.

Step 1: Download The Correct Firmware

To download Cisco IP Phone firmware from, a valid Cisco CCO account is required. In most cases, the firmware file name is something similar to the following:  cmterm-7945_7965-sccp.9-2-1.tar.  From the file name, we can understand that this is firmware version 9.2.1, for Cisco 7945 and 7965 SCCP IP phones. readers can visit our free Cisco IP Phone & ATA Firmware Download section to freely download the latest available firmware for their Cisco IP phones.

Step 2: Upload Firmware Files To CallManager Express Flash Storage

Next, the firmware must be uploaded and unpacked on our CME router. For this, we’ll need a TFTP server running on a workstation, plus access to the CME router.  From the CME prompt, we instruct the router to download the firmware and unpack it onto our CME flash:

R1# archive tar /xtract tftp:// flash:
Loading cmterm-7945_7965-sccp.9-2-1.tar from (via FastEthernet0/0): !
extracting apps45.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn (4639974 bytes)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
extracting cnu45.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn (575590 bytes)!!
extracting cvm45sccp.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn (2211969 bytes)!!!!!!!!!
extracting dsp45.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn (356907 bytes)!
extracting jar45sccp.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn (1886651 bytes)!!!!!!!
extracting SCCP45.9-2-1S.loads (656 bytes)
extracting term45.default.loads (660 bytes)
extracting term65.default.loads (660 bytes)
[OK - 9680896 bytes]

When complete, the system’s flash should contain all 8 files as shown above.

Step 3: Configure The CallManager Express TFTP Server To Serve The Firmware Files & Setup DHCP Server (option 150)

Now we must configure CME’s tftp server to ‘serve’ these files so that the IP phones can request them.  This is done by adding the following commands to the router’s configuration:

R1(config)# tftp-server flash:apps45.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: cnu45.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: cvm45sccp.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: dsp45.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: jar45sccp.9-2-1TH1-13.sbn
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: SCCP45.9-2-1S.loads
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: term45.default.loads
R1(config)# tftp-server flash: term65.default.loads

We also must ensure there is a valid DHCP server running with option 150 set to CME’s IP address. When the IP phone boots up, it will look for a DHCP server that will provide it with an IP address, but also expect to find DHCP option 150 which designates the CME the phone should try to register with:

ip dhcp excluded-address
ip dhcp pool
 option 150 ip

The above configuration excludes IP address ranges to from being handed out by the DHCP server. It also creates a DHCP scope named and configures various self-explanatory parameters including the critical DHCP option 150, which represents the CME the IP phone should try to register to.

Step 4 – Configure CallManager Express To Use New Firmware Upon Next IP Phone Bootup

The final step involves configuring CME to use the new firmware and instruct IP phones to download it. This is done by issuing the following commands under the telephony-service section of CME:

R1(config)# telephony-service
R1(config-telephony)# load 7945 SCCP45.9-2-1S
R1(config-telephony)# create cnf
Creating CNF files...

The load command is followed by the phone type and associated firmware (.load) file. Notice we do not add the .loadof the filename at the end of the command.

The create cnf command instructs CME to recreate the XML files that will be used by the IP phones to download all necessary network parameters and force it to check its firmware and begin downloading the new one.

This completes our article on configuring Cisco CallManager Express for Cisco IP Phone Firmware upgrade.

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