Nortel 6x16 KSU Digital Telephone System

In this project, I will tell you about Nortel's products, their purpose, a bit about them, and how to set up a Nortel 6x16 Key Telephone System

Step 1: About Nortel Phone Systems

Even though Nortel (formerly known as Northern Telecom), the company who made the first digital telephone switching system, the Signal-Link 1 (SL-1), and revolutionized the telecommunication world doesn’t exist anymore, their products are still in use by thousands of businesses and organizations around the world today. Nortel made many different phone systems, including the 3x8 (which stands for 3 lines and 8 phones), the CICS (Compact Integrated Communications System), the MICS systems (Modular Integrated Communications System), the BCM (Business Communication Manager) and the Meridian 1. All these systems had several things in common; quality, durability, and reliability. Many organizations still have 30-year-old Nortel phone systems still in use today and in great working condition. The 8x32, 6x16, CICS and MICS systems were KSU systems, not PBX’s. KSU stands for key service unit, and PBX stands for private branch exchange. The main difference between KSU and PBX systems is size; KSU systems were for those who did not need more than a few lines, while PBX systems were capable of handling thousands of lines. Also, Nortel KSU systems used proprietary telephones that had access to all the system’s features (via the Feature button). While Nortel’s PBX phones were similar to the KSU/key phones, they did not have a feature button; PBX phones and users were much more restricted and controlled by system administrators than KSU users. Nortel key telephones would not work on PBX systems, while PBX phones would not work on key systems. Only Nortel’s proprietary telephones would work on their systems, you could not use a regular household analog telephone on a Nortel system; it could be damaged by the excessive amount of power coming through the system into the phone. Nortel digital proprietary phones did not need an external power supply, they were completely powered by the single RJ-11 telephone cable coming from the phone system. Nortel phones’ speakers, flashing lights and buttons were powered via the phone system, thus they needed more power. Nortel phone systems are fully digital and solid state, so there are no moving parts. The 3x8 and 6x16 KSU’s were not expandable, you couldn’t add voicemail, auto attendant or anything of that sort. Nortel’s BCM series phone systems were very different from the others, they could handle VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol/IP) as well as the traditional analog and digital phones; they were hybrid phone systems (KSU’s and PBX’s). These systems were somewhat expandable but had some red tape/limits; when you ordered a BCM from Nortel, you paid for the number of lines and phones you needed. Nortel would program a special key into your system that allowed you to connect as many phones and lines as you paid for. The problem with that is that if you wanted to upgrade or install more phones or lines to your system, you would have to call Northern Telecom directly, and they would give you a special “license key” for your system. Now, since Nortel doesn’t exist anymore, that is a big problem because you can’t upgrade your system anymore! There’s no Nortel to call! With the expansion of the internet, Nortel made the BCM series hybrid phone systems, and they had the power to control their users more.

Step 2: The Nortel 616 Key Telephone System

Rule #1: NEVER take out the software cartridge from a Nortel

phone system when the system is on!!! Doing so will cause severe damage and might pose a danger.

Parts of a Nortel 6x16:

Software Cartridge: (Self-explanatory)

External Phone Lines: This is where you can connect your incoming external telephone lines

Amphenol Connector: This is where you plug in your RJ-21 25 pair amphenol connector. You connect this to a punch down block, which you connect your phones/extensions/stations, music-on-hold/background music, and external paging to.

Emergency Telephone Connection: This is where you can connect a standard analog telephone to for use in an emergency. -If the power were to go out on a Nortel 6x16, a relay inside the system will connect that emergency telephone jack to your system’s first line, thus enabling emergency calls in case of a power outage (you can call from an analog telephone line/CO-central office-line without power via an analog telephone).

Step 3: Installation, Connection and Basic Programming

1. Connect your incoming lines to the line jacks on the system.

2. Connect your amphenol connector/station wiring to the system and punch down/terminate the connections on a punch down block.

3. Plug in the system to a standard 120-volt power outlet. Using a surge protector is recommended.

4. Go to one of the proprietary Nortel telephones that you have connected to your system. If the phone has flashing indicators, that means that the system is initializing.

5. Once the flashing stops, the time and date will appear. When you first turn your system on, the default time and date will be Jan 1 1pm 1989, or something default like that.

6. The display will first be very dim on the older telephones (M7208, M7310, etc.). To change this/raise the display’s contrast, press [Feature] [*] [7]. If your phone has soft keys (M7310, T7316, etc.), then use those to raise/lower the contrast. Alternatively, to set contrast levels without soft keys, press 1 for lowest contrast, 2 for slightly higher, etc.

7. The system is now on and operational! It’s time to start programming.

8. To access the system programming, press [Feature] [*] [*] [2] [6] [6] [3] [4] [4].

9. By default, the dialing method is set to Pulse. We want it to be Tone. In the older software versions, you would go to Configuration > Line Data > Line 1 > and set your options.

10. As you’ve probably noticed, when you first pick up the handset, you don’t hear a dial tone, but instead are prompted to select a line. By default, the first 2 buttons that have flashing indicators are set as Line buttons (by default, the system has 2 lines set up). If you’ve connected your line, press the appropriate line button and you should hear a dial tone.

11. If you want to access a line when you pickup the handset without having to manually select a line, you must set up the prime line for a set. In the system programming, find the settings for the station/extension/set that you want to set up the prime line for. From there, you can change that option along with assigning and removing external/CO (central office) lines, allowing or disallowing automatic handsfree and handsfree answerback (you are being able to make calls without the handset, and handsfree answerback being you allowed to automatically answer a voice call). You can also assign/remove intercom buttons. By default, handsfree is off and you get 2 intercom buttons (the last 2 buttons next to flashing indicators).

12. You now have a fully functional phone system!

Step 4: Feature Codes

Click Here to see the full list of feature codes for a Nortel Norstar 6x16 KSU running software version 30DAG04



    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest
    • Weaving Challenge

      Weaving Challenge
    • Epilog X Contest

      Epilog X Contest