Cisco IP Communicator Administration Guide (2.0)
An Overview of Cisco IP Communicator
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An Overview of Cisco IP Communicator

Table Of Contents

An Overview of Cisco IP Communicator

Cisco IP Communicator at a Glance

Menu Items

Keyboard Shortcuts

Supported Networking Protocols

Supported Audio Formats

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager

Understanding the Startup Process

Understanding QoS Modifications

Using Cisco IP Communicator in Other Languages

An Overview of Cisco IP Communicator

Cisco IP Communicator is a software-based application that allows users to place and receive phone calls using their personal computers. Cisco IP Communicator depends upon the Cisco Unified CallManager call processing system to provide telephony features and voice-over-IP capabilities.

This interaction with Cisco Unified CallManager means that Cisco IP Communicator can provide the same functionality as a full-featured Cisco Unified IP Phone, while providing the portability of a desktop application. Additionally, it means that you can administer Cisco IP Communicator as a phone device via the Cisco Unified CallManager Administration web application.

Note Depending on context, this guide refers to Cisco IP Communicator as a phone, device, application, or interface.

This chapter includes the following topics:

Cisco IP Communicator at a Glance

Supported Networking Protocols

Supported Audio Formats

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager

Understanding the Startup Process

Understanding QoS Modifications

Using Cisco IP Communicator in Other Languages

Cisco IP Communicator at a Glance

Figure 1-1 shows the main components of the Cisco IP Communicator interface with the default mode selected. An alternate skin, accessible from the menu button or from the right-click menu, presents the same icons and functionality in a different interface (Menu > Skins > Compact or Default).

For details about how to use the Cisco IP Communicator interface, refer to the Cisco IP Communicator User Guide.

Figure 1-1 Components of the Cisco IP Communicator interface using the default mode

Table 1-1 Buttons and other components, as illustrated in Figure 1-1


Phone screen

Allows you to view call status and feature menus, and activate items.


Window Control buttons

Allows you to view the menu, hide the Cisco IP Communicator interface, toggle between modes, or quit the application.


Line buttons and speed dial buttons

Each button opens or closes a line or speed dials a number. (Ctrl + numbers 1 - 8 are keyboard shortcuts). Line buttons indicate line status as follows:

Green, steady—Active call on this line (off-hook)

Green, blinking—Call on hold on this line

Orange, blinking—Incoming call ringing on this line

Red—Shared line, currently in use

No color—No call activity on this line (on hook)

You can convert extra line buttons into speed-dial buttons.


Messages button

Typically auto-dials your voice message service (varies by service). (Ctrl + M is the keyboard shortcut.)


Directories button

Opens or closes the Directories menu. Use it to view and dial from call logs and a corporate directory. (Ctrl + D is the keyboard shortcut.) Alternately, you can use the Quick Search feature (Alt + K) to search directories.


Help button

Activates the Help menu. (Ctrl + I is the keyboard shortcut.)


Settings button

Opens or closes the Settings menu. Use it to control phone screen appearance and ring sounds. (Ctrl + S is the keyboard shortcut.)


Services Button

Opens or closes the Services menu. (Ctrl + R is the keyboard shortcut.)


Volume button

Controls audio mode volume and other settings. (Page up/Page down are keyboard shortcuts).


Speaker button

Toggles speakerphone mode on or off. (Ctrl + P is the keyboard shortcut.)


Mute button

Toggles the Mute feature on or off. (Ctrl + T is the keyboard shortcut.)


Headset button

Toggles headset mode on or off. (Ctrl + H is the keyboard shortcut.)


Navigation button

Allows you to scroll through menus and highlight items. (Not available ithe compact mode.) Alternately, use the arrow keys on your computer.


Launch Video button

Launches Cisco Unified Video Advantage. You must be running Cisco Unified Video Advantage release 2.0 and Cisco IP Communicator release 2.0 on the same PC in order to use this feature.



Allows you to enter numbers and letters, and choose menu items. (Not available in compact mode.) Alternately, use your computer keyboard.


Softkey buttons

Each activates a softkey. You can click softkey labels (instead of buttons) to activate softkeys, as well. (F2 - F6 are the keyboard shortcuts.)


Voice message and ring indicator

Indicates an incoming call and new voice message.

Related Topics

Menu Items

Keyboard Shortcuts

Installation Prerequisites

Configuring the Application

Modifying Phone Button Templates

Menu Items

Users can access the menu by clicking the Menu button in the Window Control button bar at the top right of the Cisco IP Communicator interface, or by right-clicking on any part of the interface. Table 1-2 describes the contents of the menu.

Table 1-2



Allows you to change the look of the interface. Cisco IP Communicator comes with two skins: the default mode (Menu > Skins > Default) and the compact mode (Menu > Skins > Compact).

Screen Only

Toggles the screen-only view on and off. Keyboard shortcuts are particularly useful if you are using Cisco IP Communicator in screen-only view.

Always on top

Toggles this feature on and off. When enabled, this feature keeps the Cisco IP Communicator interface visible on your desktop, even if other applications are active. (You can still minimize the interface.)

Audio Tuning Wizard

Launches the Audio Tuning Wizard, a tool that helps you select and tune audio devices.


Allows you to paste any phone number into Cisco IP Communicator. (The keyboard shortcut for this feature is Ctrl + V.)

Quick Search

Opens the Quick Search dialog box. (The keyboard shortcut for this dialog box is Alt + K.) Quick Search allows you to search one or more directories with a single search command.

Cisco User Options

Opens the Cisco IP Phone User Options web page where you can configure features, settings, and IP phone services—including Speed Dial buttons.


Opens the Preferences dialog box, which includes User, Network, Audio, and Directories windows. (The keyboard shortcut for accessing Preferences is Alt + S.)


Provides a link to an online help version of the Cisco IP Communicator User Guide.

About Cisco IP Communicator

Displays Cisco IP Communicator software version information.


Allows you to quit the Cisco IP Communicator interface.

Overview of menu items

Related Topics

Cisco IP Communicator at a Glance

Keyboard Shortcuts

Configuring the Application

Viewing Operational Information Locally on the Cisco IP Communicator Interface

Keyboard Shortcuts

Cisco IP Communicator supports the keyboard shortcuts shown in the table below.

Keyboard shortcut

Ctrl + Shift + A

Answer an incoming call

Ctrl + D

Opens or closes the Directories menu

Ctrl + S

Opens or closes the Settings menu

Ctrl + R

Opens or closes the Services menu1

Ctrl + M

Opens the voice message system

Ctrl + I

Opens or closes the online help system

Ctrl + H

Toggles headset mode on/off

Ctrl + P

Toggles speakerphone mode on/off

Ctrl + T

Toggles the Mute feature on/off

Ctrl + (number keys 1 through 8)

Opens or closes line buttons or speed dial buttons 1 - 8

Ctrl + V

Pastes a name or phone number


Dials a call


Hangs up a call

Alt + S

Opens the Preferences dialog box

Alt + K

Opens the Quick Search directory feature

Alt + X

Exits Cisco IP Communicator

Alt + F4

Closes Cisco IP Communicator

Page up

Increases volume for the current audio mode

Page down

Decreases volume for the current audio mode

F2 - F6

Activates softkeys 1 - 5

/ (with NumLk function enabled)

Activates the # key

1 In all releases prior to Release 2.0, the keyboard shortcut is Ctrl + V

Related Topics

Cisco IP Communicator at a Glance

Menu Items

Supported Networking Protocols

Cisco IP Communicator supports several industry-standard and Cisco networking protocols required for voice communication, as described in Table 1-3.

Table 1-3 Supported Networking Protocols on the Cisco IP Phone 

Networking Protocol
Usage Notes

Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP)

CDP is a device-discovery protocol that runs on all Cisco-manufactured equipment.

Using CDP, a device can advertise its existence to other devices and receive information about other devices in the network.

The Cisco IP Communicator uses CDP to communicate information such as auxiliary VLAN ID, per port power management details, and Quality of Service (QoS) configuration information with the Cisco Catalyst switch.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)

DHCP dynamically allocates and assigns an IP address to network devices.

DHCP enables you to connect a Cisco IP Communicator into the network and have the Cisco IP Communicator become operational without you needing to manually assign an IP address or to configure additional network parameters.

Cisco recommends that you use DHCP custom option 150. With this method, you configure the TFTP server IP address as the option value. For additional supported DCHP configurations, refer to Cisco Unified CallManager System Guide.

Internet Protocol (IP)

IP is a messaging protocol that addresses and sends packets across the network.

To communicate using IP, network devices must have an assigned IP address, subnet, and gateway.

IP addresses, subnets, and gateways identifications are automatically assigned if you are using the Cisco IP Communicator with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). If you are not using DHCP, you must manually assign these properties to each Cisco IP Communicator locally.

Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP)

RTP is a standard protocol for transporting real-time data, such as interactive voice and video, over data networks.

Cisco IP Communicators use the RTP protocol to send and receive real-time voice traffic from other Cisco IP Communicators and gateways.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

TCP is a connection-oriented transport protocol.

Cisco IP Communicators use TCP to connect to Cisco Unified CallManager and to access XML services.

Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP)

TFTP allows you to transfer files over the network.

On the Cisco IP Communicator, TFTP enables you to obtain a configuration file specific to the phone type.

TFTP requires a TFTP server in your network, which can be automatically identified from the DHCP server. If you want a Cisco IP Communicator to use a TFTP server other than the one specified by the DHCP server, you must manually assign TFTP server from the Network Configuration menu on the Cisco IP Communicator.

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP)

HTTP uses TCP to transfer web content over the Internet.

Cisco IP Communicator users HTTP to obtain the configuration file, LDAP Directories configuration, dialing rules, and XML services.

User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

UDP is a connectionless messaging protocol for delivery of data packets.

Cisco IP Phones transmit and receive RTP streams, which utilize UDP.

Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP)

LDAP is a protocol for accessing directories.

Cisco IP Communicator can use LDAP to search for names and phone numbers.

eXtensible Markup Language (XML)

XML is a markup language for documents containing structured information.

Cisco IP Communicator can access Cisco XML web services.

Related Topics

Supported Audio Formats

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager

Installation Prerequisites

Understanding the Startup Process

Supported Audio Formats

Cisco IP Communicator supports the following audio formats:





Uncompressed wideband (16bits, 16kHz)

Related Topics

Supported Networking Protocols

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager

Installation Prerequisites

Specifying Low-Bandwidth for Remote Use

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager

Cisco IP Communicator is a software application that enables you to communicate using voice over a data network. To provide this capability, Cisco IP Communicator depends upon Cisco Unified CallManager, an open and industry-standard call processing system. Cisco Unified CallManager software sets up and tears down calls between phone devices, integrating traditional PBX functionality with the corporate IP network. Cisco Unified CallManager manages all components of the IP telephony system—the phone devices, access gateways, and the resources necessary for such features as call conferencing and route planning.

You can register Cisco IP Communicator with Cisco CallManager system versions 3.3(3) SR 3 or later, however, if you want to use Cisco Unified Video Advantage with Cisco IP Communicator, you must register with Cisco Unified CallManager version 4.1(3)SR1 in order for Cisco IP Communicator 2.0(1) and Cisco Unified Video Advantage 2.0(1) to interoperate with each other. As you would do with other Cisco Unified IP Phones that rely on Cisco Unified CallManager, you must configure and manage Cisco IP Communicator as a network device via the Cisco Unified CallManager Administration web application.

You can get context-sensitive help for any page in the Cisco Unified CallManager Administration web application by choosing Help > For this page from the main menu bar. Additionally, some panels within a page display an "?" button that you can click to access context-sensitive help for that panel.

For complete instructions and conceptual information about using Cisco Unified CallManager, refer to Cisco Unified CallManager Administration Guide and Cisco Unified CallManager System Guide. You can access these and other Cisco Unified CallManager documents from the online help window or from

Related Topics

Understanding QoS Modifications

Understanding the Startup Process

Installation Prerequisites

Telephony Features Available for Cisco IP Communicator

Understanding the Startup Process

The sections below describe how Cisco IP Communicator interacts with the network at startup.

Step One—Locating the Configuration Server

Upon startup, Cisco IP Communicator always attempts to use DHCP to locate its Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) server. Like other phones, Cisco IP Communicator can use TFTP to retrieve files from the server. Additionally, it can use HTTP to retrieve software updates, thereby accelerating file transfer for remote users. (See the "Running the Cisco IP Communicator Administration Tool" section for instructions.)

If you do not use DHCP on your network to identify TFTP servers, or if you want the device to use an alternate TFTP server, then you need to manually configure your TFTP server from the Cisco IP Communicator interface—or instruct users to do this task. (See the "Specifying a TFTP Server" section.)

Step Two—Requesting Configuration Files

Configuration files (.cnf.xml) reside on the TFTP server and define parameters for connecting to Cisco Unified CallManager. In general, any time you make a change in Cisco Unified CallManager that requires a device to be reset, a change has been made to the device's configuration file.

If you have enabled auto-registration in Cisco Unified CallManager, Cisco IP Communicator accesses a default configuration file (xmldefault.cnf.xml) from the TFTP server.

Otherwise, Cisco IP Communicator accesses a .cnf.xml file corresponding to its device name.

Step Three—Updating Software

If you have opted to use AutoUpdate, the .cnf.xml file also contains the information that tells Cisco IP Communicator which software version it should be running. If this software version differs from the one currently in use, Cisco IP Communicator contacts the TFTP server to request the new software file. To make this request, Cisco IP Communicator first tries to use HTTP. If you have not enabled HTTP access, Cisco IP Communicator will use TFTP.

Step Four—Contacting Cisco Unified CallManager

After obtaining the configuration file from the TFTP server, Cisco IP Communicator attempts to make a TCP connection to the highest priority Cisco Unified CallManager on the list.

If the device was added to the database individually, using Cisco Unified CallManager Administration, or in bulk, using the Bulk Administration Tool (BAT), Cisco Unified CallManager identifies the device. (This is only true if you are not using BAT in conjunction with the Tool for Auto-Registered Phones Support, otherwise known as TAPS).

Otherwise, the device attempts to register itself in the Cisco Unified CallManager database (when auto-registration is turned on in Cisco Unified CallManager).

Related Topics

Adding Devices to the Cisco Unified CallManager Database

Specifying a TFTP Server

Configuring Features and Services

Updating the Application

Resolving Startup Problems

Understanding QoS Modifications

Voice quality can be compromised on an IP device by data traffic. Because Cisco IP Communicator is a software-based phone instead of a hardware phone, you cannot solve this problem by isolating voice-over-IP traffic to an auxiliary VLAN. Instead, you must modify Quality of Service (QoS) parameters in the network so that voice data traffic is prioritized over generic data traffic.

For more information about configuring QoS in your network, refer to the Cisco AVVID Network Infrastructure Enterprise Quality of Service Design guide and other network design guides, accessible from this index:

Related Topics

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager

Selecting an Audio Port Range

Troubleshooting Cisco IP Communicator

Using Cisco IP Communicator in Other Languages

Cisco IP Communicator is available in languages besides English. If you are using Cisco IP Communicator in a locale other than English, you should install the Cisco IP Telephony Locale Installer on every Cisco Unified CallManager server in the cluster. Doing so ensures that you have the latest translated text, user and network locales, and country-specific phone tones available.

For more information, refer to Using the Cisco IP Telephony Locale Installer, located here:

Related Topics

How Cisco IP Communicator Interacts with Cisco Unified CallManager