The endpoint layer is the only layer in the communication model to which end users interact directly. All communication in a VOIP network is converted into an IP based packets, which means any device connecting to a network, would be treated as VOIP endpoint.  An endpoint device could be Cisco IP Phone, a PC using a software-based phone, or a communications client such as instant messaging (IM) or video terminal, Cisco UC multiprotocol support for Skinny Client Control Protocol (SCCP), H.323, MGCP, and SIP.

The endpoints layer is responsible for the following functions:

  • Acts as application interface for end users.
  • Provides basic functionality such as making and receiving calls, hold, conferencing, transfer , redial etc.
  • Video and voice integration devices support.

There are a set of endpoint devices defined by Cisco for different functionalities and features broad categories are as follows:

  • Entry Level IP Phones
  • Business Class IP Phones
  • Touch Screen IP Phones
  • Specialty Devices

Each class phone has different set of functionalities and features.  Entry level phones provide basic functions of calling such as call receiving, dialing, hang, redial etc, for high end functionality like XML application support, full duplex speakerphones, integrated voice and video etc.  XML application support is provided by business class and touch screen phones.

We will learn about features and functionalities of different category of phones; this will help us to select the right endpoint device which meets the customer specific requirements.

Entry Level IP Phones – are single line, phone with minimal features set such as making and receiving calls, hold, redial, and transfer and so on.  These phones are ideal for use in public areas, lobby etc.  Some of the Cisco phones which fall under this category are:

  • Cisco Unified SIP Phone 3911
  • Cisco 7906G and 7911G
  • Cisco 7931G

We will learn about features of each of these in detail.

Cisco Unified SIP Phone 3911 – This is a single line phone with speakerphone and internal microphone.  It provides one touch access to redial, transfer, conference, hold, line select, mute, and speakerphone and voicemail access.  It supports advanced features like caller-ID, call history and phone configuration.  It has power support from optional power adapter as well as Power over Ethernet (PoE).


Cisco 7906G and 7911G – These are full featured phones that provides voice communication over the same data network which computers use.  it allows users to make and receive calls, put calls on hold, transfer calls, conferencing and so on.  These models don’t have built-in microphone.  It has some advanced telephony features like access to network data, XML content and web based services.  You can also co-locate another network device without additional Ethernet cable drop.

Cisco 7931G – This model is suitable for commercial and retail environments.  It has features like dedicated call hold, redial and transfer keys facilities, illuminate mute and speakerphone.  It supports security features like x.509v3 certificates, encryption facility with AES-128 standard.  It can receive power both from a traditional power adapter as well as Power over Ethernet (PoE).

Business Class IP Phones – These phones support multiple lines two or more, having large displays, full-duplex speakerphone and inline power facility.  These phones are ideally meant for midsize or enterprise class organization networks.  Some of the Cisco phones which fall under this category are Cisco 7940G, 7941G, 7941G-GE, 7942G and 7945G.  The Cisco 796X IP phones are have identical feature set except support for six lines instead of two. 796X series models are 7960G, 7961G, 7961G-GE, 7962G and 7965G.

Cisco 7940G – is the basic phone in this series which is well suited for employees in a basic office environment.  It has support for two lines, hands free speakerphone, built-in handset connectivity, large pixel based display.

Cisco 7941G – It is a full featured enhanced business IP phone.  It has two programmable backlit line/ feature button and four interactive soft keys, high quality duplex speakerphone, handset and headset.  It has a built in headset port and an integrated Ethernet switch; it has higher resolution LCD display with features like support for rich extensible markup language (XML) applications and double-byte languages.

Cisco 7941G-GE – This phone delivers networks data and applications to users quickly with its Gigabit Ethernet port for integration to a PC or desktop server.  It is high resolution, graphical 4-bit display with support for double characters and Unicode text to XML application developers.  It has two programmable lines and feature buttons.

Cisco 7942G – This set enhances user experience with high fidelity wideband audio. It extends the functionality of the Cisco 7941G set with additional features like High fidelity wideband audio for life like conversations; support for use in lossy networks, high resolution graphic display and support for 3rd party telephone applications.

Cisco 7945G – This set extended the functionality of Cisco 7941G/7941G-GE models with features like high fidelity wideband audio having life like conversations; lossy networks support; large backlit color display and gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

Touch Screen IP Phones – Cisco 797X series comes under touch screen phones with support up to eight lines. Some of the Cisco phones which fall under this category are:

  • Cisco 7970G
  • Cisco 7971G-GE
  • Cisco 7975G

Cisco 7970G – Touch screen phones are widely suited for retail and commercial environments.  This model comes with high resolution, a backlit, color touch screen display, support up to eight phone lines, hands free speaker phone and built in headset and support for inline power over Ethernet.  This set mirrors features of Cisco 7940G and 7960G.

Cisco 7971G – GE – This set provides network data and applications to users quickly with its Gigabit Ethernet port for integration to a PC or desktop server.  It has a backlit, high resolution color touch screen display and feature set similar to 7941G and 7961G-GE.

Cisco 7975G – This set enhances user experience with high fidelity wideband audio and improved navigation options.  It has large backlit touch screen display and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity similar to its counterparts – Cisco 7970G and 7971G-GE.

Specialty devices are designed to address specific endpoint requirements such as integration of wireless and VOIP together, integrated video and VOIP, conferencing solutions etc.  Cisco ATA endpoint devices can convert up to two analogue phones into VOIP devices.  We will just have to a look to understand what types of devices are available in this category.

Cisco 7985G – It is a personal desktop videophone that makes instant, face to face communications possible for executives and managers.  This model is an integration of camera, LCD screen, speaker, keypad, and handset to enable a video call.  It includes features of a standard phones such as call forward, transfer, conference, and hold (along with video), it provides direct access to directories, services, settings and voicemail messages.  It has dedicated buttons for video features – self view, picture in picture, video mute, display and brightness.

Cisco 7921G – This set falls under category of Cisco wireless IP phones.  It gives exceptional voice quality with wideband video support.  Some of the standard features include – built in speakerphone, dedicate mute and volume keys, support for push to talk via Extensible markup language (XML) interface, support for enterprise applications via XML and QoS.  This set also has enhanced security support features including certificates, secure real-time protocol (SRTP), and Transport layer security (TLS).

Cisco 7937G Conference Station – This device enables wideband speak phone conferencing facility.  This hands free conference station is designed to use on desktops, in conference rooms and in executive chambers.  Some of the features of this high end device are – support for G.722 wideband codec, PoE power support, external microphone kit support for extended room coverage up to 40 feet with support for 3rd party lapel microphone kit and large backlit LCD display.

Cisco ATA 186/188 – Analogue telephone adapters used for interfacing with legacy analogue systems fax machines, analogue conferencing phones to IP based telephony networks in order to protect existing investment on old analogue communication infrastructure.  The ATA 186 supports two voice ports and a single Ethernet port.  With an ATA 188 we can extend service to another co-located network device as it is having a built in switch.

Cisco IP Communicator – It is windows PC based soft phone application which lets you make personal computer for voice and video calls.  With a combination of USB headset and speakerphone users can gain access to voice mail.

Cisco VT Advantage – This adds video telephony functionality to Cisco IP phones (7900 series and IP communicator).  It comprises of VT software, a video telephony USB camera which let you receive phone calls on your IP phone and video component displayed on your PC.

Cisco 7914 / 7915/ 7916 expansion modules – To address high call volumes requirement, the Cisco IP Phone Expansion Module 7915 and the Cisco Unified IP Phone Expansion Module 7916 deliver an add-on solution to instantly determine the status of a number of lines beyond the number supported natively in the wideband audio Cisco Unified IP Phones 7962G, 7965G and Phone 7975G. 15 expansion lines can be added to 7915 and 24 expansion lines in case of 7915 / 7916 with each module.

In this lesson we have covered in details the various devices used at endpoints to cater to different work environments and user needs from a CCNA Voice perspective. This concludes the role and function of endpoints in a Unified Communication environment.  In our next CCNA Voice topic, we will learn about the various components of the Cisco voice communication layer.