An FXS interface connects the router or access server to end-user equipment such as telephones, fax machines, or modems. The FXS interface supplies ring, voltage, and dial tone to the station and includes an RJ-11 connector for basic telephone equipment, keysets, and PBXs.
An FXO interface is used for trunk, or tie line, connections to a PSTN CO or to a PBX that does not support E&M signaling (when local telecommunications authority permits). This interface is of value for off-premise station applications. A standard RJ-11 modular telephone cable connects the FXO voice interface card to the PSTN or PBX through a telephone wall outlet.
FXO and FXS interfaces indicate on-hook or off-hook status and the seizure of telephone lines by one of two access signaling methods: loop-start or ground-start. The type of access signaling is determined by the type of service from the CO; standard home telephone lines use loop-start, but business telephones can order ground-start lines instead.
Loop-start is the more common of the access signaling techniques. When a handset is picked up (the telephone goes off-hook), this action closes the circuit that draws current from the telephone company CO and indicates a change in status, which signals the CO to provide dial tone. An incoming call is signaled from the CO to the handset by sending a signal in a standard on/off pattern, which causes the telephone to ring.
Loop-start has two disadvantages, however, that usually are not a problem on residential telephones but that become significant with the higher call volume experienced on business telephones. Loop-start signaling has no means of preventing two sides from seizing the same line simultaneously, a condition known as glare. Also, loop-start signaling does not provide switch-side disconnect supervision for FXO calls. The telephony switch (the connection in the PSTN, another PBX, or key system) expects the router's FXO interface, which looks like a telephone to the switch, to hang up the calls it receives through its FXO port. However, this function is not built into the router for received calls; it operates only for calls originating from the FXO port.
Another access signaling method used by FXO and FXS interfaces to indicate on-hook or off-hook status to the CO is ground-start signaling. It works by using ground and current detectors that allow the network to indicate off-hook or seizure of an incoming call independent of the ringing signal and allow for positive recognition of connects and disconnects. For this reason, ground-start signaling is typically used on trunk lines between PBXs and in businesses where call volume on loop-start lines can result in glare. See the "Configuring Disconnect Supervision" and "Configuring FXO Supervisory Disconnect Tones" sections in the "Fine-Tuning Analog and Digital Voice Ports" chapter for voice port commands that configure additional recognition of disconnect signaling.
In most cases, the default voice port command values are sufficient to configure FXO and FXS voice ports.