Making IP Calling a No-Brainer

Avaya's new line of VOIP phones makes once-tough navigation a breeze

Avaya is looking to close the gap between the capabilities of IP and cell phones with additions to its line of One-X products.

The new Avaya One-X Deskphone Edition, introduced June 8, is designed to mimic the ease of navigation that cell phones provide, as well as to offer lots of choices to different types of users.

With more enterprises migrating to VOIP (voice over IP) even as traditional TDM (time-division multiplexing) calling costs go down, exploiting IP to deliver greater productivity to users is key to making the move worthwhile. Much more is at stake, now that the total number of IP stations linked to a PBX has eclipsed TDM stations. Last year, 4.3 million IP stations were installed in the United States, versus 4.2 million TDM stations, according to TEQConsult Group, a consulting firm in Hackensack, N.J.

"Personalization of your desk" is how industry analyst Frank Dzubeck, of Communication Network Architects, described the new line, which can be customized with different colors for face plates, includes hi-fi speakers and microphones, and supports Bluetooth in some models. "They use next-generation signal processing to basically increase the quality of the experience," said Dzubeck in Washington. "Its clear, crisp. This is the enablement of the next-generation quality of experience."

While typical TDM-based phones support only 3KHz frequencies, One-X Deskphone Edition phones handle frequencies ranging from 3KHz to 7KHz with wideband support, thanks to broadband and IP, said David DeLorenzo, senior product manager for Avayas Communications Appliances Division, in Lincroft, N.J. In addition, the phones housing is engineered for better acoustical quality, DeLorenzo said.

Avaya, which designed four models of the new One-X Deskphone Edition for four types of users, both leapfrogged its competitors and caught up with them in the feature set, according to Allan Sulkin, president of TEQConsult. "Wideband was added as a catch-up feature, but Avaya went beyond competitors by offering wideband not just to the desk but also to the speakerphone and headset," Sulkin said.

The Bluetooth support sets Avaya apart from some competitors. Planned Gigabit Ethernet connectivity will bring Avaya up to par with rival Cisco Systems, which is the top supplier of IP endpoints in the United States, Sulkin said.

Other companies plan to launch new IP phones over the summer, although Sulkin would not reveal which ones. "You will see more wireless, more color capability and more sophisticated display capabilities with competitors new IP phones coming out soon," he said.

Avaya sought to eliminate the difficulty many users have in remembering how to transfer calls or to set up conference calls. "I might lose you" probably wont be a phrase heard at Indian River County School District, which beta tested two of the four new models. "The display is the big difference," said Ralph Starr, network analyst at the Vero Beach, Fla., school district. "You can get so much more information, and you get menus to guide you through [setting up] a conference call or transferring a call. If you dont remember what button to push, it shows you."

The phones also can be customized through expansion modules that attach to the side of the phones to add features such as button expansion or more single-touch buttons. A Bluetooth adapter allows for the use of a standard Bluetooth headset, and Avaya may create a video module next year for the Deskphone Edition as well.

The phones also include a USB port. Avaya is considering allowing an iPod or a similar device to link in so "you can play sound for callers on hold, or you can download Outlook contacts onto a memory stick and add that into the phone through the USB port," said DeLorenzo.

Thanks to the enhanced display and IP connectivity, busy users also can use the phones to quickly access Web sites such as Google, said Russell Stewart, IS technical support manager at LifeNet, a nonprofit organ-donor organization in Virginia Beach, Va.

"The idea is that you can Google things if youre looking for a persons name or organization. You dont have to go far to do that search and dont have to go to another piece of equipment to do that," Stewart said.

Each of the four models targets a different type of user: a walk-up user in a lobby or conference room who requires minimal features; an everyday user who doesnt highly interact with the phone; an essential user who relies on the phone a great deal; and a navigator user, such as an executive assistant, who manages call flows between other people.

The 9610 is the lobby model and is due in January. The 9620 is for the everyday user, and the 9630 is for the essential user; theyre both due in July. The 9650 is for the navigator user and is due early next year.