3Com Bridges Wi-Fi, VOIP Standard in New Phone
3Com on Oct. 19 brought open network convergence to the telephone when it launched a voice over IP phone that operates over a wireless LAN.
3Coms new 3108 Wireless Phone is targeted at workers in health care, government, retail and education who cant be tied to a desk to do their jobs, according to Michael Leo, director of voice marketing for the Marlboro, Mass.-based company.
"If Im in a hospital with [multiple floors and buildings in a campus] and Im rarely at my desk, this allows me to be contacted wherever I happen to be if there is a wireless infrastructure in place," he said.
The 3108 phone is a Session Initiation Protocol-based phone that can work with 3Coms NBX Version 6 IP PBX for small and medium enterprises, its VCX IP PBX for large enterprises, and with any IP PBX that is SIP-compliant.
Although rivals such as Cisco Systems and Spectralink also offer wireless phones that support voice over IP, the 3Com phone is unique in its SIP implementation, Leo said.
The phone can also work with any wireless LAN infrastructure that is compliant with the IEEE 802.11b or 802.11g standard.
The 3108 phone provides users with access to voice calls as well as wireless e-mail and data applications.
Because the phone is linked into the enterprise phone system, users can receive calls going to their desks while they are roaming the building and campus.
At the same time, they can transfer calls to other departments, contact an onsite receptionist and retrieve office voice mail messages.
Such calls are free, unlike cellular phones.
Because the device only works on campus and usage can be monitored through call accounting features in an IP PBX call controller, it provides enterprises with a greater degree of control over its usage, Leo said.
"The device only works on the campus, and since there isnt a personal number associated with it, people are more apt to do just business on it," he said.
Communication with the phone is secured via its implementation of the Wireless Protected Access 2 protocol, and advanced encryption is built into the phone.
The phone includes a color display, a keypad and four-way curser to manage calls, access a phone directory, view call logs and e-mail.
The phone can also be configured with personal settings such as speed dialing and connectivity settings.
The 3108 phone is available now, although VCX support is not due until early 2007. It is priced at $415.
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