Although Nortel and BellSouth are not positioning the MCS to stand alone, BellSouths Walker said the server will enable PC-to-PC voice, video, chat, and app sharing by itself; MCS thin client will suffice on the user end. "It does provide some limited PBX-like features, so in theory, you could put this in a greenfield situation where a customer does not have a PBX, and it could server as their telephony server and their application server," Walker said. The full complement of PBX features, however, requires the Communication Server. The MCS client also will work with the softphone.BellSouths announcement named an MCS customer in Central Piedmont Community College, located in Charlotte, N.C. Another is Erlanger Health Center in Chattanooga, Tenn. Although BellSouth, like its RBOC sibling Verizon, has begun selling VOIP services with gateways to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), it is not offering off-LAN VOIP service with the MCS platform. "We sell it right now to sit on the customer networkwhatever he has deployed and manages himself," Sperling said. "In a lot of cases, weve sold him the PBX, were selling him the MCS, and the customer has a frame relay network, over which he is controlling VOIP," he said. "Its our PRI trunks coming into the PBX for PSTN, our frame relay trunks coming in for the customer to use for his data network and for VOIP calls, but were not right now positioning this with any type of quality of service over our network itself." Cost for the 5100 varies widely with configuration, but Walker estimated a starting price of $200 per user. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.
Nortels Sperling said BellSouth can offer the MCS as customer-premise equipment even to its Centrex customers. Indeed, Sperling said BellSouth saw the multisite collaboration offering as a Centrex retention strategy in a market hot to lure Centrex customers away with PBXes.