3Com Ramps Up IP PBX System

The upgrade software for 3Com Corp.'s NBX IP platform will be able to support 1,500 devices.

3Com Corp. is boosting the capacity of its IP PBX system and, in a partnership, is adding an option for customers to use legacy, non-IP telephone handsets on its system.

3Com on Monday is launching an upgrade to the system software for its NBX IP telephony platform. The biggest enhancement is a doubling of the IP PBX capacity. With release 4.1, 3Com is expanding its SuperStack 3 NBX to support as many as 1,500 devices, which are a combination of telephone handsets and central office telephony connections. The current maximum is 750 devices.

"From a scalability perspective, its significant because it puts us into the very largest markets," 3Com product manager Greg Zweig said. The NBX systems can scale from two to 1,000 users per location, he said.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company also is becoming the first IP PBX vendor to support a new technology from CITEL Technologies that allows legacy handsets to be used on IP networks. CITEL a week ago launched its CITELlink IP Handset Gateway to bridge the gap between legacy phones and newer IP PBX systems.

CITEL, of Seattle, estimates that there are more than 300 million legacy telephone handsets in the market and officials said that enterprises are looking for an alternative to a complete replacement of those phone as they move to voice over IP.

"We enable customers who currently have PBXes of various kinds to migrate to the next solution without being locked into a single vendor," said Mike Robinson, CITELs chief technology officer.

So far, though, the CITELlink only supports Nortel Network Corp.s Norstar phones and 3Coms NBX IP PBXes. But the company is working on interoperability with the five vendors with a leading share of the installed base of legacy phones in coming months is expecting to interoperate with multiple IP PBX vendors, officials said.

CITEL is offering a 16-port card to add the CITELlink into the chassis of 3Coms SuperStack 3 NBX and NBX 100. Available this month, the card starts at $2,000

3Coms NBX software upgrade will be available at the end of June as a free upgrade for existing NBX customers.

Along with the increased capacity, the upgrade enables users to access voicemail messages on the Web through enhancements to the NetSet user portal tool. It also adds support on 3Coms 2102 and 2102-IR NBX business telephones for full-duplex speakerphone capabilities, which allows for a two-way discussion on speakerphone that is similar to that on a handset.