NEC Announces the IPK II for SMBs

Last week, NEC Unified Solutions announced the release of the Electra Elite IPK II, the company’s new converged IP communications solution for small to medium size businesses.

A key benefit of the IPK II in comparison to its predecessor, NEC’s Electra Elite IPK, is the development of a new CPU architecture that ships with applications on board. In the past, separate application cards had to be installed in order to enable new functionality.

Now, the purchase of a license is all that’s required to activate new applications. “They’ll be able to activate those licenses without having to add anything new to the system: they simply turn the feature on,” says NEC Electra Elite Product Manager Gail Fisher. “And as far as migration goes, they can go back to their Elite IPK sales and simply add a new CPU, and now have all of that new capability.”

The new CPU architecture, Fisher says, improves the stability and reliability of the product—and it also helps the company target small and growing businesses. “We’re a single platform, from 4 ports to 456 ports,” Fisher says. “That’s really an advantage for us, where some of our competitors will have a small sized box and a medium-sized box.”

Not only does that mean that a small business can be confident that the product will grow with them, Fisher says, it also means they only have to buy what they need. “If somebody wants the MIS report, then they buy the MIS reporting package,” she says. “So it’s incremental, based upon the requirements of the customer.”

While the original IPK was targeted at mid-sized businesses, Fisher says, the IPK II is affordable enough to target the very low end of the marketplace. “That’s probably the most price-competitive area that there is: $100 can make or break a sale,” she says. “Where in the past we were losing some of that very low-end business, we believe that we’ll be able to capture that now because we can be so price-competitive.”

Another new development in the IPK II is the ability to do a remote software upgrade. “In the past, it required a trip charge, because a technician needed to take the chips, go to the customer site, turn the system off, pull the CPU out, put the new chips in, and turn the system back on,” Fisher says. “With the IPK II, we can do all this remotely.”

And the IPK II, Fisher says, provides new functionality for hotel/motel deployments that NEC didn’t have before—such as wakeup calls, do not disturb, and toll restriction. “What we’re looking to do with this product is really start to capture some of this market share that we were losing because we didn’t have these features,” she says.

The IPK II also provides wireless mobility using DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone). “That gives our customers the ability to provide cordless operation with a wireless solution much more cost effectively than they were able to before,” Fisher says. “We have higher density for the number of base stations that we can support on each card, and we also have repeater units that extend the distance of the base station.”

And the new product also supports peer-to-peer video. “When I have two stations in an IPK II system, they can establish their softphone—it’s a peer-to-peer connection—and then they have the option to click a button that says ‘Video,’ and with locally provided cameras, they can transmit a video image back and forth,” Fisher says.

Ultimately, Fisher says, the key selling points for the IPK II are lower price points, new applications, and the future-proofing that comes with the remote software upgrade capability. “We’re looking at expanding the relationship that our dealers have with the customer,” she says. “Our expectation is that they now will sell software upgrades and maintain that customer over the life of the IPK II product.”

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