New VoIP Phone Stuff

Three unrelated product announcements unveil latest phone technology developments.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Aug 22, 2007
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Polycom's extended DECT line
The DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) standard, long established in Europe, has gotten some traction in North America over the past year or so. Polycom, Inc. yesterday announced availability here of its DECT-based KIRK Wireless Server 600v3, previously sold only on the other side of the pond.

The Wireless Server 600v3—which will support as many as 35 users from a "single-cell" (i.e., single-server) deployment, and up to 1,500 in "multi-cell" deployments—connects with IP PBXs operating on a number of common VoIP protocols, including the Digium|Asterisk flavor of SIP.

KIRK phone networks can be expanded into multi-cell configurations by the addition of secondary Wireless Servers and/or Repeaters. (Secondary Servers, like the primary one, are connected to the wired IP network; Repeaters are connected wirelessly.)

Also announced today is a new, high-end KIRK handset, the 5020, designed for general office use. The user interface employs a large color screen that displays both text and icons. The phone has a built in address book with a 250-name capacity (up to 4 numbers per name), a speakerphone, vibrating "ring" capability, and support for text messaging.

The Wireless Server 600v3 is available in a bundle with four 5020 handsets or, optionally, four 4020 (mid-end) handsets.

Cordless dual phone from InteleCom
InteleFone, from Indianopolis-based InteleCom, Inc., is a global VoIP service, similar in many respects to Skype or Gizmo Project—calls among subscribers are free, other long distance at low rates, DID numbers available from many offshore locations—but with some important differences.

First, it is not primarily PC-based, but can place calls either through a PC, using its free proprietary USB phone, or directly via broadband or dial-up connection, by means of a standard phone and an adaptor.

Second, it is a post-paid service (i.e., you get a monthly bill) rather than prepaid. Both residential and business calling plans are available.

As of yesterday, InteleFone has another way to connect. Its new dual (PSTN and VoIP) cordless phone works via dialup or broadband IP connection or your standard phone line. Customers can keep and use their local phone number and service (including 911) while accessing their InteleFone account for free (to fellow customers) and low-cost international calling with the same device. No pricing was mentioned in the announcement.

Entry-level SIP phone from Aastra
Aastra Telecom, based in Concord, Ontario, has announced the release of a value-priced, entry-level addition to its 5i family of wired SIP desktop handsets—the 51i.

The 51i is a single-line unit that incorporates a 3-line-by-16-character LCD display and a full-duplex speakerphone. It shares with other 5i phones such features as embedded XML browser, auto-sensing switched Ethernet ports, and a system for simplified deployment and upgrading.

The design of the 51i handset was "a response to our partners 'and customers' needs for a cost-effective entry-level IP telephone," according to Aastra EVP of sales, Yves Laliberte. The unit is suitable for light use in small and medium business, or institutional applications such as lobbies, common areas, or single-user environments.

The 51i is available now, through Aastra's authorized IP distribution channel in North America.

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