Siemens WLAN Switch Focuses on Voice

Wondering where the Chantry Networks buyout in January 2005 by Siemens Communications would lead? No surprise: it led to a new focus for the voice-centric company, specifically in enterprises with WLANs.

The Chantry wireless switch equipment, formerly known as BeaconMaster, is being rebranded as part of the Siemens HiPath Wireless portfolio, says Tom Racca, vice president of marketing: “HiPath is our comprehensive WLAN solution… it’s for converged voice and data,” he says.

To accompany the new HiPath, Siemens is introducing a family of Wi-Fi-based phone handsets—among the first in the industry to support native 802.11g—called the optiPoint WL2 line. The phones will feature 128×128 pixel color screens, polyphonic ringtones, interfaces for both LAN and USB, and the usual phone needs like speed dialing, speakerphones, and caller ID. The phones will link into existing enterprise LDAP directories and use them to make internal calls.

As a Wi-Fi phone, the handsets will also support Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and thus could work with SIP-supporting APs from other vendors, even carriers.

Two optiPoint WL2 units will be available in August. Starting price on the phones will be around $500, including the charger.

Siemens’ other VoIP phones include the optiClient softphone for laptops and the optiPocket softphone for PDAs. All are compatible with the HiPath Wireless switch portfolio.

Racca says the handsets and HiPath together are a complete end-to-end solution for businesses. “The controllers, the access points, with phones and clients sitting on top—it’s a full wireless LAN infrastructure that’s cost-effective and high performance,” he says.

The HiPath line will initially feature a controller sitting anywhere on the network to manage all user sessions and security polices. The HiPath access points can also plug in anywhere on the network via Ethernet.

The current Chantry BeaconMaster products out in the world will be getting a free upgrade to HiPath, which Siemens says will provide the older products with many new capabilities.

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