IP PBXs Go Portable


connectivity is no longer simply the ability to have voice conversations using a mobile phone or to use a VPN to access company data. It encompasses remote connectivity to all the features of an enterprises PBX and LAN using sophisticated mobile devices. That trend was reinforced at this years VoiceCon and 3GSM World Congress conferences, where leading vendors, notably Avaya Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., made major announcements about how they are bringing mobility to their IP PBXs.

Mobility capabilities are becoming more important for the workforce, says Geoffrey Baird, vice president and general manager for the communication appliances division of Avaya. Now, less than 20 percent of people spend time sitting at their desks, but as soon as they leave their desks, productivity decreases significantly because they do not have access to communication, he says.

To address this situation, Avaya has added mobile capabilities for its new one-X Quick Edition product line, a new IP PBX product for companies with 50 or fewer phones that is built on the peer-to-peer technology of Nimcat Networks Inc., which Avaya acquired last year. With Nimcat, all the PBX functions are contained in the phones themselves; there is no server.

The Avaya one-X Desktop Edition has been extended to mobile phones.

The aim is to extend the capabilities of the Quick Edition phones to mobile phones. Working with Nokia, Avaya has developed a Nokia series 60 phone that can run a one-X Mobile Edition soft client. It gives all the basic capabilities from the desktop phone, such as multiple-line appearances, transfer, drop or hold, says Jorge Blanco, vice president of strategic marketing for Avaya. The one-X presence capabilities will detect when users are on the phone or not available, and can relay that to callers, as well as connect them to voice mail. It also can support impromptu call recording.

Avaya also is working with Microsoft Corp. and Research In Motion Ltd. to develop the fixed-mobile link. The company has created a fixed-mobile convergence business unit to give proper focus to how integrate the cell world and the [desk] telephone world and we will continue to invest, Baird says.

Avaya is in good company. Release 5 of Ciscos flagship CallManager fully supports SIP, which enables Cisco to extend its capabilities to mobile devices more easily. Along with SIP, mobility is now an integral part of CallManager, says Brian DalBello, director of product marketing for Cisco Unified CallManager. The platform includes integration with Microsofts Office Communicator soft client and support for Nokias dual-mode phones and RIMs Blackberry 7270.

Microsoft announced at 3GSM it will have a version of its Office Communicator soft client for the Windows Mobile operating system within the first half of 2006. Rather than wait for that, Cisco is offering Cisco Unified Personal Communicator, which initially runs on Windows and Macintosh PCs. Cisco also is working with Nokia to port it to Symbian platforms, such as the new dual-mode phones by Nokia. The mobility of the workforce and the usefulness of softphones have been important in driving the use of IP, DalBello says. If you can go everywhere in the world and get broadband for a reasonable price, why not just log into the network and use Communicator?

Another addition to CallManager, a presence server, will allow third-party applications, such as the Microsoft Office Communicator to be federated with CallManager for exchange of presence information just like Ciscos own devices. The Windows Mobile relationship is new, DalBello says. We are sure that Microsoft and Symbian and others will take up these capabilities.

Avaya Inc.
Cisco Systems Inc.
Microsoft Corp.
Research in Motion Ltd.

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