The Norstar CiCS, or Compact Integrated Communications System, was easily one of the best selling of the Nortel/ Norstar product lines. Introduced in 1995, the system was an integral part of the Nortel family of products for over a decade. The Norstar MiCS, or Modular Integrated Communications System, was the big brother to the CiCS, but this paper will only be concerned with the CiCS.
From the beginning, the Norstar CiCS was a small business phone system. Utilizing modules that plugged directly into the KSU, the system could have between 4 & 8 telephone lines (POTS) and up to 24 extensions. The modules were not common between this system and the MiCS, but most buyers were not concerned with that since they were aware they were purchasing a small business phone system, and because the phones were common between the two systems, the concern was abated. If your business is currently using the CiCS, then you know and enjoy the fact that it was EXTREMELY reliable. MTBF for the system was advertised at over 100 years! Actually, though this claim is rather astonishing, I personally have not known one to fail.
One weak part of the system was the voice mail. This function was provided by any number of old voice mail systems such as Start Talk, Norstar Flash, or the Call Pilot 150/100/ 50. Each of these voice mail systems were stand alone wall mounted products that were flash based. When they were made, flash technology was in it’s introductory phase and was, frankly, not reliable. This is the part of the system I see fail the most.
Advanced applications such as ACD (automatic call distribution) and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) were also available as additional purchases, but were honestly not very successful due to the fact that the phone system was targeting small business and these applications, while now useful and reasonably priced, were at the time very expensive, at least in comparison to the price point of the CiCS itself.
As for phones, the Norstar CiCS utilized most commonly the Norstar “M” series of phones. You can walk into nearly any town in the USA and see these phones at any number of businesses. Where I live,
I see them in grocery stores, retail, banks, almost anywhere. Literally millions were sold. As time went on, the Norstar/ Nortel “T” series was released and these could be put onto the system as well. The most common of these were the T708 and the T7316e. Incidentally, while we are talking about Nortel and Norstar phones, most of them can be reused on the new Avaya IP Office V2 phone system. Something to keep in mind as your phone system ages and you may be looking at an upgrade.
If your business is currently using the Norstar/ Nortel CiCS phone system, you made a great choice. It is functional, easy to use, but most importantly reliable. Good Job!