VOIP to Be Used for Emergency Notifications

Organizations look to unified communications for efficiency and emergency preparedness.

Unified communications technology is getting serious consideration in the wake of recent school shooting incidents.

"Its just another way of trying to get a message out to students. When something bad happens like the Virginia Tech [shooting], you have to try to get to students any way you can," said Steve Stempien, director of information services at Adrian College.

The technology also has more prosaic, albeit important, uses. Admissions counselors at the college intend to use the new Mobile Call Manager as a way to "stay in communication with prospective students," said Stempien.

This and other functionalities are part of a package that ShoreTel is introducing Nov. 12 as it tries to jump on the unified communications bandwagon.

Among the grab bag of new features and product offerings are support in its call management software for BlackBerrys, a pair of new IP phones and three new IP PBX switches aimed primarily at international markets. ShoreTel also inked a pact with Syntellect to resell its high-end call center system with its IP PBXes.

ShoreTel extended its desktop call handling client to mobile devices, starting with the BlackBerry, in the new ShoreWare Mobile Call Manager.

"It allows you to control your corporate extension from your mobile phone," said Steve Timmerman, vice president of marketing for Shoretel.

From their BlackBerrys, users can view the number of corporate voice mail messages they have, view their call history, assign their corporate extension to any phone they want and perform a variety of corporate desktop phone functions.

ShoreTel intends to add support in later releases for other PDAs (personal digital assistants), including Nokia mobile phones and the Motorola Razr, as well as to Windows Mobile devices, Timmerman said.


Read more here about ShoreTel.

Also as a part of its unified communications play, ShoreTel added the ability to integrate with Microsofts Exchange 2007. That integration enables users to store voice mail on the Exchange Server and use its speech and test-to-speech interfaces. ShoreTel intends to integrate its software with Microsofts Office Communications Server 2007 early next year.

The two new ShoreTel IP phones, which are not SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)-based phones, include the ShorePhone IP 115, an entry-level speakerphone, and ShoreTels first color IP phone—the ShorePhone IP 265.

"Its the industrys most affordable color phone. Were bringing color to the masses," boasted Timmerman. With a price tag of $369, the ShorePhone IP 265 is aimed at midrange "knowledge workers," he added.

ShoreTels three new ShoreGear hardware-based IP PBXes were designed to deliver twice the capacity in half the space. They combine IP phone connectivity and PSTN trunk connectivity in the same hardware, which were previously housed in separate devices.

"We increased the capacity, shrunk the box and have trunk connectivity in the same box," said Timmerman. "They are like Legos. You can rack and stack them. They are scalable, dynamically load balanced, and its economical to make them redundant. You can back up five switches with a single additional box."

The new ShoreGear 220T1A supports 220 IP phones, analog extensions and full T-1 analog trunks. To broaden its appeal to international customers, the new ShoreGear 220E1 supports E-1 trunking for European installations, and the ShoreGear 90BRI supports major European and Asia Pacific trunking protocols.

All the new offerings are available now.


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