While the original release of Lync Phone Edition only supported English, the first Cumulative Update (CU1) in January of this year introduced a host of new foreign languages on the user interface.

But even from the original client release tone localization has been supported for both Dial Tones and Ring-back Tones, but configuration of this setting was not widely known.  Thanks to Dave Howe of Microsoft and Chad Ausburn of Polycom for uncovering this undocumented behavior.

Tone Localization

Throughout North America and many other countries the Precise Tone Plan specifications are used to provide the same Dial Tone and Ring-back Tone.  These same tones are generated by the Lync Phone Edition devices when either the receiver is picked up or the speaker button is pressed to go ‘off-hook’.  Neither the dial nor ring-back tones have any real functionality in VoIP-based telephony solutions but it was discovered early on that failure to present these very familiar sounds to users was causing confusion.  For over half a century picking up a phone receiver to check for a dial-tone was how a user ‘verified’ the system was ready.

It is important for users to also hear a familiar tone as a foreign sounding tone could be just as confusing as none at all, prompting the untrained user to simply think the phone is not working.  Thus Lync Phone Edition supports reproducing various other tones for deployment in different countries throughout the world.

  • To enable localized tones for Lync users simply update the Country/Region setting on the Address tab of the Active Directory user to one of the supported country settings.  For bulk changes the two AD attributes ‘co’ and ‘c’ can be modified directly instead.



  • Once this change is applied in Active Directory then Lync Server will import those changes into the SQL database within the next ReplicationCycleInterval (1 minute by default).  Any Lync Phone Edition clients currently signed-in as that user will automatically reflect the change without having to logout or reboot.
  • This feature is supported across all versions of Lync Phone Edition (RTM, CU1, CU2, etc) and all current devices (both the Tanjay and Aries product families).  The standard Windows Lync client does not support these tones, so if a USB-only handset is used the default North American tones will still be played.  If a Lync Phone Edition device is USB-tethered to a Windows client then the phone still handles call control and media so it will play the configured localized tones no differently then if it was in stand-alone mode.
  • Both Enterprise Voice enabled Lync User accounts and Common Area Phone contact objects can be configured to use localized tones in the same way.
  • There are no localized WAV files stored within the firmware as these are basic audio tones generated by the phone and not pre-recorded audio files.
  • Changing the display language configuration on the device does not impact the localization tones.

The default dial tone used by the device is the North American-based A440 dual-frequency tone.  The default tones are used if the Country/Region setting is null or set to a value not enabled for localization.  Many European countries utilize a single 425Hz tone while the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations use dual-tone, double-ring dial tone.

Based on a variety of tests these are the only country settings which appear to trigger non-default tones:

Country Dial Tone
Note Ring-back Tone
United States (Default) 350Hz + 440Hz (Dual Tone) A4 440Hz + 480Hz
Australia 350Hz + 440Hz (Trill) Ab3 400Hz + 450Hz
New Zealand 400Hz G3 400Hz + 450Hz
South Africa 350Hz + 440Hz (Trill) Ab3 400Hz + 450Hz
Japan 400Hz G3 384Hz + 416Hz
425Hz Ab3 425 Hz
Italy 425Hz (Beep) Ab3 425Hz
France 440Hz A4 400Hz

Interestingly enough the United Kingdom country setting would not yield the desired localized tones, yet Australia did. There are also a number of country settings which also did not work (e.g. Argentina, Belgium, Chile, China, Columbia, India, Ireland, Israel, Norway, Russia, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand)  yet these countries do not all use the default North American tones.  (If any additional tones are known to work please leave a comment on this article as not all country settings where tested and the table above is probably not complete.)

As an example the following video shows a number of Lync users on different Polycom phones all with unique Country/Region settings.

  1. Both the Lync client workstation and the CX600 are signed-in with the same user account set to Australia, yet the localized dial tone only plays on the CX600.  The CX200 connected to the laptop still plays the default North American tone.
  2. The CX500 is signed in with a Common Area Phone account set to Japan.
  3. The CX3000 is signed in with an Enterprise Voice enabled Lync user account configured for Italy.
  4. The CX700 (Tanjay) is also using a Lync account which is enabled for localized tones for Germany.

Foreign Language Support

The following foreign languages are supported and are all included in the same firmware version of Lync Phone Edition.  The desired language can selected during the initial sign-in user configuration or later from the phone’s options menu.  Selecting a different language will not change the tones, the configuration described above must also be applied.

Take note that once a different language is selected then it may be very difficult to manually change the setting back (quickly learned I cannot read Chinese).  The easiest way to fix this is just perform a quick hard-reset on the phone to revert it back to the default settings.

Menu Option Language (Native) Language (English)
image Dansk Danish
image Deutsch German
image English English
image Español Spanish
image Suomi Finnish
image Français French
image Italiano Italian
image 日本語 Japanese


image Norsk Norwegian
image Nederlans Dutch
image Portugues Portuguese
image русский Russian
image Svenska Swedish
image 中文 Chinese (Simplified)
image 中文 Chinese (Traditional)

By Jeff Schertz

Site Administrator

8 thoughts on “Localization and Language Support in Lync Phone Edition”
  1. Dear Jeff,
    Is it possible to "create" new languages or are they planned? I mean Eastern-European ones… (Polish, Czech, Hungarian)
    Thanks in advance,

    1. I'm not aware of any additional language support but the CU4 update is due out shortly so we'll see if any were added.

  2. Jeff, this tone localization is a very clever feature, and I havent read about it anywhere. Are there any other undocumented things regarding these phones you are aware of?

    1. Nothing that I haven't already blogged about 🙂 I'm starting to run out of topics to discuss on Lync Phone Edition!

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