Avaya announces the END OF LIFE of the Nortel Norstar

by Jeff Wiener on May 10, 2010

Over my 19 years in the Telecom business almost everything has changed, as telecom technology continues to advance at a rapid rate. One of the things that had never changed, however, was the presence of the Norstar phone system. The once innovative product was introduced sometime in the late 1980’s, and its fantastic twenty year run has always demonstrated to me its overall superior quality.

In fact, I would classify the Norstar as, by far, the best phone system of its time, as it single-handedly propelled Nortel to the #1 position in the worldwide market share concerning small and medium business space.

The product was feature rich, well-priced, easy to install, and best of all, extremely reliable, which has allowed me to sell this system for almost two decades with an unshakeable sense of confidence. In fact, six years ago when I stopped actively selling the Norstar product, I took comfort knowing that the Telecom market was better served because the Norstar was around; kind of like my security blanket.

But, as the old adage says, all good things must come to an end, and with that I’m sad to announce that Norstar has reached the end of its impressive run.

When Avaya took over Nortel’s telecom assets they didn’t hide the fact that Norstar would be discontinued sometime in the near future, and the impending official announcement came on May 4th, 2010 with the following Avaya press release:

Due to higher than expected demand and earlier than anticipated component obsolescence, Avaya must announce the End-of-Sale (EoS) for new systems of Norstar 3×8, CICS, MICS, and Call Pilot 100/150 products, effective October 4, 2010.

Subject to availability, the latest date for orders to be placed for these products is October 4, 2010. Thereafter, these codes will be removed from price lists and associated order entry systems. Stock will be reserved to meet requirements for warranty returns and repairs.

The good news for Norstar users, however, is that Avaya is committed to providing technical support on the system for an additional 3 years – until October 2013.

As I stop for a moment to remember the impact Norstar had on the telecommunications industry, I am encouraged by the fact that many other reliable and innovative solutions still remain available on the market, as there are yet many other competing systems that offer the same reliable, feature rich products that will easily fill the product void left by this once innovative system.

In fact, even without Norstar, Avaya still boasts not only the advanced IP Office, but Cisco’s UCME, ShoreTel, Mitel, NEC, Asterisk, hosted solutions, and many others as well.

It’s the end of a technical era and the beginning of a new one.

The following note was written by Anthony Bartolo from Avaya with respect to the Norstar product line.

Today, we issued an End of Sale (EOS) notification for Norstar (see the Avaya Partner Portal. This was not an announcement we planned to make and a great deal of thought went into what the optimal actions needed to be. Ultimately, we were faced with a situation where demand was greater than forecasted and Norstar parts were rapidly running out. Our last buy on some of these parts, in fact, was made several years ago so we could not have anticipated this situation. While we are still five full months away from an effective end of sale date, we do acknowledge that in January we announced a nine-month notice for all major Nortel Enterprise Solutions (NES) products – but this had to be an exception. That said, we are making an additional exception for Norstar that you will like – that also applies to Business Communications Manager (BCM) (which remains for sale and is not impacted by this EOS announcement. In addition to the three-year support policy for hardware that applies to all Avaya products after any effective end of sale date, we will make an exception by matching that with three years of software support. This is above the standard one-year support for software that is our EOS policy.

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Written by: Jeff Wiener. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Identi.ca, or Friendfeed

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John Lyle May 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

I agree. I also sold the Norstar for 14 years. Loved the product. Oh well, like you said, the end of a technical era and the beginning of a new one.


Colin B Maharaj May 14, 2010 at 11:54 am

As someone in the PABX and Call Accounting industry for many years – and with Norstar in particular, one of the key things about the Norstar is the absolute ease of setup. Also the CDR was also not bad, and was quite easy.

Now I have to deal with the Cisco CME, and while I think that CISCO is great w.r.t. Data, in the Voice area it is many years behind. To setup the system, is a command line thing, now I know there is a gui, but you will not get certified with knowledge of the gui. Also the CDR is a nightmare. Right now we are working with CDR being delivered over Radius, but this is not really CDR.

It is in fact a device-node-event-data-record. And it is lousy to deal with.
Just picking up a handset from the cradle created kilobytes of event data.

A typical CDR record on a norstar can be 200-300 bytes. The CME, when you translate the Radius to English, comes out to be 10k-20k per call, then you have to track events and match them up to create a single line of CDR.

Other PABXs are also a challenge. The Call Manager will not give trunk Ids if not configured properly, and we need trunk id for call accounting billing. The Altigen does not give trunk ID also. It just gives the trunk card that the call was made on.

Whatever people say about the end of a technical era – it does not mean that it is getting better.

Colin B Maharaj May 14, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Forgot to mention Avaya CDR.

Can you imagine, a CDR package that you have to configure the position of all items to get reasonable data AND a duration that can either be [sssss] [hmmss] or [mmmmM/6] WITHOUT colons. While other pabxs are either hhhh:mm:ss or just seconds Avaya is one of three and are totally ambigious. Norstar format NEVER changed for all it’s life.

Also the trunk and extensions in other pabxs are prefixed with either a ‘D’ to say DN/extension or ‘T’ for trunk but Avaya is just a bunch of numbers and not a guided format or description. It is unreal and I think is in fact one of the worse in the industry simple because it is so ambigious and can be misguiding.

Wally Goate May 14, 2010 at 1:13 pm

WHERE is the link to the OFFICIAL Avaya Field Notice on this ????


Ernie May 17, 2010 at 9:16 am
United we stand. September 30, 2010 at 8:20 am

That’s very sad i know that, but better phones better technology.

If you deside to eliminates your oldest Norstar Meridian Systems and your oldest Norstar Meridian Telephones and you deside to taking over of new technology, we can help picking up all the oldest stuff and delivery for you, if you live in Tampa Florida or near to Tampa and you having your oldest Norstar Meridian system and your oldest Norstar Meridian telephones throw it in one corner E-mail me for simply go get it, pack it my self and give it away to FedEx and they in charge of everything, so are you ready for a new technology, E-mail me at ivelyr@gmail.com just leave me your name, your address, your telephone number for we can go ahead and grab the oldest Norstar equipment and send ti away from you. YO HABLO ESPAÑOL

Brian D. Browne March 6, 2013 at 10:08 pm

I agree with the comments expressed by Colin. Very relevant.
Cisco’s CDR for CME and CUCM really have a lot more data than everyone else, and more is not always better. Having said that, I do think that both Cisco and Avaya have stepped up to the plate wonderfully with really good competing products: Cisco’s UC500 series and Avaya with the IP Office 500. I am sure there are others as well,, but these are two of my favorite.

WRT the original article, yes Norstar was a very well designed and built system, with legendary reliability. The date of this post is March6th 2013, and even now, there are a lot of customers who are reluctant to give up their still perfectly working Norstar, for a nice shiny IP office or Cisco UC500 series system. A testament to the Norstar’s popularity is how many vendors have developed specific solutions to help customers migrate off of these systems. Nortel’s competitors have decoded the proprietary signalling protocol of their digital sets and built it into their products, so that their PBXs can talk to the Norstar handsets.

Goodbye Norstar, thanks for your long and faithful service to the industry…sniff, sniff…..


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