IP Telephony Track Gets to the (End)point

Attendees to todays session, End Games: Selling and Servicing IP Endpoints, will get an education about endpoints available for VoIP and how to best select such devices whether they are selling server-based or hosted IP PBXs.

Solutions providers are advised to rethink their ideas about IP endpoints, said Neal Shact, CEO of Communitech Services Inc. After 20 years as a phone distributor, Shact says IP endpoints are a different animal. A phone is a phone, but an IP endpoint is more like a data terminal, he said. If you think of them that way, its much easier to understand the issues interoperability, software upgrades, bugs that impact sales and support.

With this in mind, Shact will lead the panel discussion with Simon Gwatkin, vice president of strategic marketing for PBX maker Mitel, and Robert Messer, president and founder of distributor ABP International Inc.

Messer noted with SIP technology much of the intelligence is in the endpoint rather than the switch. He cites the example of one snom phone with an extended keypad that allows some applications to be run on the phone itself.

The session will review the available types of IP endpoints phones, softphones, PDAs, wireless devices, headsets and video devices. Among the available endpoints, Messer said video phones have been slow to take off but the dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular phones should be popular once widely available, but that wont be until 2007. A more immediate opportunity, he said, is in softphones, which range in capability from the common pop-up dial pads to IM-based video, to complex collaborative applications that support instant meetings and co-browsing.

The panelists will go over pricing and margins as well as other key criteria power source, platforms and number of lines supported, for example to consider when deciding which endpoints to sell and support.

Pricing has settled in the last six months, but that doesnt mean there wont be decreases, said Messer, but he cautions against buying on price alone. The low-price leader may not be able to sustain a channel.

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