Tecom Eyes SMBs with Convergence Phone System

The DXi-1688, an intelligent database system that incorporates PSTN, GSM, GPRS and IP telephony functionality, could help small and midsize businesses looking for flexibility.

TAIPEI, Taiwan—In the world of the telephone PBX, not much has changed over the past few years, with the exception of the occasional IP PBX offerings, until the Computex 2004 show here.

Tecom Co. Ltd., a Taiwan-based OEM/ODM networking and telecom equipment manufacturer, is now showing the DXi-1688, its newest enterprise telephone system, which aims to transform the SMB (small and midsize business) PBX market.

Casey Hu, strategic business division director at Tecom, shed light on the companys strategy on developing the DXi-1688, a product the company calls a "business convergence system."

Hu said most IP phones and converged telecom solutions, such as the products offered by Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd., are aimed at Fortune 500 firms rather than at the SMB market—and that the smaller companies see no immediate benefits to switching over.

Companies cannot radically change the ways people use phones, Hu said, adding that it is a companys job to provide products that can fit transparently into an SMBs existing infrastructure.

For these reasons, he said, Tecom has set out to design intelligent systems for routing communication to proper channels, and this is where the DXi-1688 comes into play.

The DXi-1688 is an IDB (intelligent database system) that incorporates PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)/GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) and IP telephony functionality, Hu said.

With 16 PSTN outlines and 88 extensions, the DXi-1688 can handle as many as eight simultaneous VOIP calls. Its GSM/GPRS capabilities use a built-in GSM/GPRS antenna and module, which can direct calls to a users mobile phone.

The DXi-1688 is capable of handling as many as four SIM cards/services at the same time, Hu said. When the systems are deployed to multiple corporate offices, each unit is configured to connect to all of the companys other offices.

When an employee relocates temporarily to another office, the company just needs to specify the new location, and the system will automatically forward the employees calls over the Internet to the remote office, Hu said.

The unit in the remote office will then use its GSM/GPRS module to complete the call to the employees handset.

Hu said the system can handle call roaming, but it needs to be told where people are going.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about more news at Computex, where vendors are pushing IP telephony with VOIP gateways.

Although the DXi-1688 handles only GSM/GPRS connectivity at the moment, the company plans to build products that will support 3G (third-generation) standards such as CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and WCDMA (Wideband CDMA), Hu said.

The DXi-1688 has a larger clone that can handle as many as 350 PSTN outlines, but Hu said that system goes beyond the SMB market that the company is currently focusing on.

Tecoms current offering provides only a few concurrent VOIP connections for several reasons. The most important is that broadband is not yet stable enough to meet telecom standards for connectivity.

Plus, Internet bandwidth issues in many parts of the world and the lack of a reliable, WAN-based QOS (quality of service) limit the number of connections, Hu said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifA company that leases VOIP infrastructure elements has added session controllers to its lineup. Click here to read more.

IP phones will become the standard within two or three years, Hu predicted, as unit prices drop below those of the current digital offerings.

When the IP phone market begins to flourish worldwide, Hu said the company will migrate almost entirely to IP telephony support in this type of product.

The DXi-1688 will launch in the third quarter, most likely in August, Hu said. Tecoms main customers are top 10 telecom providers in the United States, although Hu would name only Sony Ericsson. The company is also making inroads into the European market.

/zimages/4/28571.gif Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at http://VOIP.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.