BellSouth to Sell Nortels Multimedia SIP Server

BellSouth hopes Nortel's tightly integrated Web collaboration, softswitch, IM-to-video CPE platform will win and retain business customers among Nortel PBX users in the southeastern United States.

BellSouth has begun selling Nortel Networks Multimedia Communication Server 5100, an SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based platform that ties dispersed enterprise workers together over broadband IP. The server distributes presence-aware telephony, video, instant messaging, file sharing, whiteboarding and application collaboration across the enterprise WAN.

The MCS 5100 will be aimed primarily at BellSouths existing and potential Nortel-equipped customers in its nine-state southeastern region of the United States, said Dean Walker, senior product manager at BellSouth. The RBOC (regional Bell operating company) has a 15- to 20-year history as a major channel partner for the PBX vendor, he said.

The new server will work most seamlessly when directly SIP-connected with Nortels 4.0 release of its Communication Server IP PBX (aka Succession, and still called Meridian by many), announced in September. Release 4.0 of the CS will allow the MCS to show the on- or off-hook status of buddies, even if that buddys desktop phone is a legacy digital one.

The MCS also will work with TDM (time-division multiplexing) versions of the Meridian PBX, and even with the phone switches of Nortels competitors. In Succession PBXes of Release 3.0 and earlier, the server will operate through a virtual PRI (primary rate interface) trunk connection.

The MCS 5100 offers the suite of call answering, screening and call-forwarding options that have become familiar to VOIP (voice over IP) users, whether on the Web-based GUIs of services such as Packet8 or Vonage or on the personal GUIs of Cisco and other IP PBXes. Like many other packages, it also offers an IM client that can be used for intra-enterprise chat, or escalated to voice or point-to-point video, using commonly available webcams.

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Exploiting other common protocols, the MCS also offers Web-site-pushing, co-browsing, and whiteboarding, file and application sharing. The Web collaboration option and file sharing will require the download of a client, while "Personal Agent" settings such as call forwarding will be accessible on any PC via the Web.

The MCS solution is also particularly well-suited to traveling employees, said Matt Sperling, Nortels account vice president for the BellSouth channel. "In a lot of cases, our customers customers also support remote, mobile extensions by letting employees access the network, perhaps using a Nortel Contivity product for VPN," he said.

"Your laptop, with the Communications Servers 2050 IP softphone, now is an extension off your PBX, with all of your conferencing and collaboration features supported by the MCS," Sperling said.

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