Cisco has unveiled Instant Connect, a push-to-talk (PTT) offering that allows a group of mobile users to communicate using enterprise networks and includes enhanced capabilities beyond two-way PTT mobile radio handsets.
The Instant Connect system supports Cisco wireless IP phones and touch-screen Android mobile devices for group and private PTT conversations and is delivered using existing network infrastructure over enterprise wireless networks without the need for a service provider or carrier network. The system does not require additional network investments. Users also have the ability to use their choice of mobile devices, including Cisco wired and wireless phones.
Managers can directly create and control collaboration channels and group communication privileges, and IT administrators are able to extend Instant Connect services beyond the enterprise network coverage area using Cisco mobile routers or carrier data plans.
In addition, users can add live surveillance cameras or recorded video, enabling rich media collaboration with the group, and video surveillance feeds can be dropped into incident communication channels providing voice, video and data collaboration directly to field personnel. If the signaling connection to the server drops, a Cisco unified IP Phone can automatically reconnect to a secondary server, avoiding service interruptions. In addition, mobile personnel can swap out the unified wireless IP phone battery in the field.
With Instant Connect, field personnel log into their group and push a button to communicate with their colleagues from any location with network connectivity. When users roam offsite, they are able to stay in communication with their group by connecting to the corporate network through a carrier data plan. Managers with administration privileges can add and delete users from groups. PTT servers are installed on the corporate network running as virtual applications on Cisco's Unified Data Center technologies including the Unified Computing Systems b-series, c-series and e-series platforms that can be expanded as PTT usage grows.
The platform also allows IT departments to expand WiFi coverage by adding additional access points, which the company said would provide better on-premise coverage than carrier coverage or Land Mobile Radio (LMR) coverage. Quality of service (QoS) and advanced voice codecs help to provide clear voice quality, even when the network is busy.
To further improve signal quality, Cisco’s CleanAir technology constantly identifies and works around sources of wireless interference that might otherwise affect the user experience. Mobile personnel can access PTT, voice, video and instant messaging from multiple devices, including personal smartphones and tablets if the organization has a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy.
On the security side, Instant Connect encrypts all PTT communications between the wireless access point and the Cisco unified wireless IP phone using the Advanced Encryption Standard 256 (AES-256) and WiFi Protected Access (WPA2) security standards. Users over carrier networks can use Cisco AnyConnect to establish a virtual private network (VPN) session between the mobile device and the system.
"In addition to meeting the immediate need for PTT services, the Cisco solution provides strategic advantages because it also supports wireless voice, video and instant messaging," a company white paper explained. "Rich collaboration options help mobile personnel understand and respond to problems more rapidly and increase situational awareness."