New IP in That Good Old Phone

By Erin Joyce | Jun 22, 2006 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/New-IP-in-That-Good-Old-Phone-3613866.htm

No matter how advanced IP telephony becomes, or how much it converges with cell phones and drills into our computers, some things never change.

We still want to use that familiar old hunk of a phone sitting on our desks.

That's what some of the research into the topic has bubbled up for Avaya , the maker of communication software, and now, a new line of IP telephony phones.

The latest models are a major addition to Avaya's Web phones, such as its 4600 series of IP-enabled devices introduced four years ago.

Those in the latest 9600 series are simplified in their design, and even look like the same old phone we're used to on our desks.

But they also sport a flat-panel design in the display screen, act like a cell phone in some ways, and offer advanced Web browser functionality.

(The browser support is via Avaya's Communication n Manager software platform, which features short extension dialing, transfer, conferencing and Web-based access to information and corporate-wide broadcasts via a screen display.)

The lifecycle of the desk phone is lot longer in businesses, and a lot of companies and workers still say that dial tone is good enough for them, said Geoffrey Baird, vice president and general manager of Avaya's communications appliances division.

"What we have seen, as the market has upgraded its IP infrastructure in the back-end of the phone, is that they have not upgraded their desk phone," Baird told internetnews.com.

So Avaya set out to build a desk phone that looks like the one Dad used to use, but is built to easily deploy IP-telephony.

In essence, it delivers what the back-end IP infrastructure was built to offer.

Baird said the 9600 series one-X Deskphone Edition phones are built for four specific user profiles.

They range from from power communicators who are often mobile, to those who need only basic telephony functions.

Take the 9630 IP Telephone, which is available starting in July.

The gadget offers high definition audio, an integrated WML application interface for applications expansion, one-touch access to Avaya Communication Manager mobility features, call logs and enhanced multi-person conferencing.

The screen sports an intuitive, context-sensitive screen that presents different information depending on what the user is doing.

He or she might be making a phone call, retrieving messages or checking contacts. On most desktop phones, that involves a lot of "tunneling" into the phone to access the feature, or by using voice-mail keypad functions.

9630 IP Telephone
A member of the Avaya 9600 series of IP phones.
Source: Avaya

On these phones, the "softkeys" are built right below the message screen, much like the function keys on most of today's cell phones.

It also has improved mobility applications that helps users bridge their IP phone with their cell phone in one touch to move the call from their desktop to their cell phone.

If on a multi-party conference, Avaya officials explained, users can see all of their teleconference participants on the screen, and scroll through them to add, drop or mute individuals on the call.

The phone also supports higher quality wideband audio in both the handset and the speaker phone.

Since the 9630 screen can offer integrated Web browser pages, it can also enhance phone applications such as LDAP corporate directories and integration with Microsoft Outlook calendars, Baird added.

They also also have the ability (depending on the type of server software running), to stream video directly onto the phone from security cameras, which some of Avaya's customers are deploying.

The price for the 9630 line is $525 and is available in July.

Avaya expects to release in January 2007 the 9650 IP Telephone, which is built for executives or executive assistants that spend a great deal of their time on the phone each day.

A lower-priced line is the 9610 IP Telephone, which is suitable for phones used in lobbies and public locations. Simplicity to place calls is the key for these models.

"The system is designed to make it a better experience, not just by replacing [the phone with the PC], but by combining it with the pc and a cell phone to make it easier," Baird said.

"The IP factor gives us the bandwidth, not only for applications [on the phone], but for offering wide band audio."

In redesigning and building its new IP phones for businesses, Avaya set out to create a phone designed by users and for users.

The company said in one of its surveys that 85 percent of people who used the phone said it could have a positive impact on productivity and save costs by reducing mistakes and dropped calls.

Ninety percent of those surveyed said the phones could save time through easy access to mobility features, reducing phone tag.

Another 96 percent said time savings could result due to the phone's ability to quickly find contact information.