Aastra MBU-400: Oh Oh?

aastra_mbu400_270x270Since first posting about availability of the new Aastra MBU-400 SIP/DECT system I’ve seen considerable interest in the device, but no-one stepping up with any first hand experience with its use.  The device is in fact vaguely related to the snom m3 SIP/DECT systems that I own and enjoy using. Both are based upon reference designs from RTX Telecom.

As an OEM product from RTX Telecom the hardware design is largely fixed, but Aastra has a lot of control over the firmware. I know that snom has made considerable progress with firmware enhancements for the m3 since it was introduced to the US about a year ago.

Unlike the m3 the MBU-400 has a single FXO port on the DECT base radio that provides analog life-line capability. Several people I know have expressed interest in this systems as they have VoIP accounts but also maintain a traditional POTS line in their home or small business. The FXO port would seem to make the MBU-400 the preferred option in such situations.

However, today I noticed a post to the VoIP Wiki at www.voip0-info.org by bbarnett. He tells of problems with the MBU-400 and also of trouble dealing with Aastra to get the problems acknowledged or addressed. That’s certainly unfortunate as  the device has considerable promise.

I don’t know this person, nor do I have any first hand experience with the MBU-400. If anyone can offer up additional experience using the device I’d be happy to hear it. I’d buy one myself and give it a thorough review, but I already own snom’s m3.

  • Dave Sullivan

    I just received my Aastra version of the snom M3 today. I say “version” because, for all practical purposes, it is exactly the same device. All I can say is that the buttons a bit nicer than the SNOM buttons; you can dial by feel more easily than you can on the SNOM. Otherwise, the software on the base unit and the firmware running on the handset is nearly identical. If you’re the kind of person that recognizes specific details in hardware, you’ll notice the base unit is nearly exact, with the same punchout holes on the back that the SNOM unit has. The AASTRA version is prettier in general and has the FXO passthrough. Other than that — this is not an AASTRA device, it is a SNOM device in sheep’s clothing, posing as an Aastra device.

    • That’s not quite true. Both devices, the snom and the Aastra, are based on a reference design from Denmark’s RTX Telecom. RTX makes a lot of DECT hardware for many companies. In both cases the hardware is very similar, but the companies do have the ability to extend the systems firmware on their own. Snom has made considerable effort to refine the m3 firmware since its introduction. The snom base does not support the use of an analog line, which the Aastra supports. This is a minor difference, but significant for some users.

  • We use 10 of these at work with 2 bases. It integrates pretty nicely with our I3 phone system. I had some instability with one of the bases. It would drop during the day for 18 pings and this affected 5 of our employees with dropping calls. I contacted support via email and they suggested updating to the latest firmware which was 2.2. I set the base to go get the update during the night but after 3 days it still hadn’t gotten it. I did a manual upgrade and haven’t had any more complaints of dropped calls so far. The upgrade was pretty slow – about 15 minutes per phone plus 8 for the base which it does sequentially though I knew from the manual that this is how long it would take. It upgraded the base first, then each phone one by one. None of the phones were usable until all the phones were all upgraded. The only other negative that I can think of is that the phone seems to get warm during a call which is uncomfortable. Otherwise, I’ve not had any complaints about them.

    • Consider yourself lucky. I’ve heard numerous people complaining about firmware issues.

      In fact, that raises a question, what version of firmware are you running?

  • David Mutterer

    I have one integrated with my aastralink 160 pro and it’s working pretty well.

    The upgrades do take forever but it’s pretty much a one time thing.

    You can use only 3 at a time, which is a little disappointing… in our case, if you try to ring a group of phones, and lets say 4 or more of them are cordless, only the 1st 3 will ring.

    All in all, i like the tight integration with the aastralink.

    • That’s good to know. I think that there were significant software issues when the device launched. It’s been out for a couple of years now, so there’s been time to work them out.

  • Philipe

    We purchased an Aastra MBU400 with 8 handset, back in august of 2010 and ever since we have had issues with dropped accounts (sip) with greater then 2000ms of response time. The lag is intermitted throughout the day and sometimes it is all of the accounts and sometime it is only a few.
    Firmware were updated, wires were changed, PBX and MBU base was also installed on a router with igmp snooping to confirm no conflict was happening between the rest of the network, and still to this date the issue has not been fixed.
    When talking to technical support, I feel (this is my own experience and my own feeling) talking to a non technical person with limited knowledge regarding the actual phone. Also feels like they are asking me to try things that make no common sensse.

    This is my first experience with Aastra products, and so far it is going extremely bad.

    Regards
    Phil

    • Yes, I’ve heard from others about trouble with the firmware for this device. The device was manufactured by RTX Telecom for Aastra, and also is the basis of the snom m3. Since it’s an OEM’d product Aastra internal support may not be as effective dealing with the MBU as their own phones.

      In the past I’ve used the 480i CT and found it pretty good. The MBU is not representative of the product range as a whole.