The Cisco ATA 186/188 device is well known amongst any Cisco VoIP engineer. It is used allow analog phone devices to connect to the VoIP network and function as they would normally do with any other PBX. The Cisco ATA186 / 188 was (and still is) one of the most useful (and cheapest) devices for any VoIP Network. Many companies use the Cisco ATA in areas such as production lines and public areas, where expensive Cisco IP Phones are not required.
As noted, there are two different models, the Cisco ATA 186 & 188. One of the major differences between the two models is that the Cisco ATA 188 has two RJ-45 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, whereas the Cisco ATA 186 has only a single 10Mbps Ethernet port. One of the ports on the Cisco ATA 188 is an uplink port (connects to the switch), and the other one is a data port, allowing you to connect another network device e.g workstation or network printer, just as you would do with a Cisco IP Phone that has two Ethernet ports e.g Cisco 7911G, 7945G e.t.c.
Both models have two FXS interfaces (shown above, on the right side behind each ATA) which are used to connect two standard analog telephones or fax machines. The Cisco ATA is connected to the network via an Ethernet interface (uplink port) and can be configured via DHCP or manually. The Cisco ATA needs a 5V DC external power supply to operate . It is important to add that the Cisco ATA 186 & 188 device does not support Inline Ethernet power or Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Upgrading the Cisco ATA 186 - 188 Firmware
As with most IP Phones and VoIP network devices, the Cisco ATA firmware should be periodically updated to the latest available version. This will help ensure smooth operation and most importantly, fix any bug issues that might be present in older firmware versions.
Upgrading the Cisco ATA firmware is a fairly straight-forward process and won't require too much effort, as long as all described steps are followed. At the time of writing this article, the latest available firmware for the Cisco ATA 186 - 188 is version 3.2(4) (file name ata_03_02_04_sccp_090202_a.zip ) with release date 23/2/2009. For the purpose of this article, this image has been made available from our Cisco IP Phone & ATA Firmware Download Section section. It is important to note that the upgrade procedure is the same for the SCCP (Skinny Protocol), SIP and H.323 firmware.
Firstly download and upzip the file in a directory, preferably c:\ata . The zip file contains 32 files of which two are the ones we are mostly interested in and these are:
- sata186us.exe 72Kb. This executable will serve the firmware to the ATA, so it may upload and install it.
- ATA030204SCCP090202A.zup 273Kb. This is the firmware file for the ATA device.
To begin, open a DOS prompt and switch to the directory where you have unzipped the downloaded zip file. We assume this is the C:\ata directory. Once there, run the sata186us.exe executable with the following parameters:
c:\ata>sata186us -any -d1 ATA030204SCCP090202A.zup
Note: To complete the ATA Firmware upgrade, we will require a analog phone connected to the Phone 1 port of the Cisco ATA device. The phone will be used later on to initiate the firmware upgrade.
This command will start the server and being serving the firmware file to any ATA that connects to it. The -any parameter will allow the upgrade even if the software version is less than or equal to those of the client box. The -d1 parameter sets the verbose level for debugging to 1 (out of 3). This is handy as the server will provide enough debug output to allow tracking of the process.
Once the above command is executed, the server will begin serving the firmware file to any ATA that requests it. The service runs (listens) on UDP port 8000 and the Data Stream (transfer of firmware) on UDP port 8500, so it is important these ports are not blocked by any firewall or antvirus system or else the upgrade will fail.
Following is the output when running the sata186us executable as shown above:
sata186us version 3.1
Using Host: Firewall-cx with IP: 10.0.0.90 as upgrade server
This machine IP: 10.0.0.90
Upgrade Server Port: 8000
Data stream 0 port: 8500
image found: code -- ata186.itsp2.v3.2
Using dialpad of your telephone (attached to your ATA box),
press ATA button to go to main menu, and enter:
100#10*0*0*90*8000# (to upgrade code)
Pressing 123# will announce your code's version number.
You can later verify that you have upgraded your ATA box.
This program runs continuously; Press <ctrl>-c to abort.
Upgrade server ready...
The most important areas have been highlighted for your attention. The server will automatically detect and display the workstation's IP address on which it will listen for incoming connections, followed by the ports used to listen and transfer the data stream (firmware).
At this point, we need to turn to the Cisco ATA device, pickup the headset and press the ATA button on the top. This button lights 'RED' when the handset goes to a 'offhook' status e.g the headset is picked up. Once the red ATA button is pressed, type the sequence as shown and keep the headset to your ear:
Note that the 10*0*0*90 code represents our workstation's IP address, so this will need to be substituted with your own workstation's IP address.
As soon as this command is entered via the dialpad, the ATA will initiate the firmware transfer and proceed to its upgrade. During this time, expect a debug on the screen, similar to the following:
Wed Nov 16 12:49:19 2011 10.0.0.21 -> <udp: 10.0.0.90 8500 123>
Begin uploading code to 10.0.0.21 (Wed Mar 30 12:49:19 2012) ...
Done uploading code to 10.0.0.21 (Wed Mar 30 12:49:22 2012)
The firmware transfer will not require more than 10-15 seconds at the most and once successful you will hear the annoucement "Upgrade Successful". It's a great idea at this point to reboot the Cisco ATA device and let it boot with the new firmware.
Checking and Verifying the Cisco ATA 186 - 188 Firmware Version
To verify or find out your current ATA firmware version, simply follow these easy steps:
1) Take the phone off hook.
2) Press 123# and listen to the annoucement. You will hear your code's version number.
3) Hang up the phone.
Resetting The Cisco ATA 186 - 188 Device To Factory Default
The Cisco ATA device offers a simple mechanisim to perform a factory default reset, wiping clean all configuration changes that might have been made through the web administrative interface.
To perform a factory reset of a Cisco ATA 186 - 188, follow the steps below:
1) Take the phone off hook.
2) The red button on the top of the ATA-186 / 188 will illuminate.
3) Press the illuminating red button on the ATA and dial 322873738#. (The numbers spell FACTRESET# on the telephone)
4) Voice prompt will ask you to dial * to save changes you have just made.
5) Press * on your phone's keypad.
6) Hang up the phone.
The Cisco ATA will now reset to its factory defaults.