More VoIP at the Office Superstore

8x8 Inc. and Aastra Technologies collaborate to create new IP phone, which they'll sell through Office Depot.

 By Ted Stevenson
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Office and general merchandise meag-stores still aren't the first—or even the second or third—place most people would think to go for VoIP-related equipment and/or services. We know, because we've looked—and found little. But, as VoIPplanet.com has reported in the past, these organizations have begun to address the phone needs of small business customers.

This week—in a move that expands the retail availability of end-to-end VoIP—8x8 Inc., providers of hosted IP phone service offerings to business and residential customers, jointly announced with communications networking equipment vendor Aastra Technologies a new product offering to be rolled out at Office Depot locations, nationwide.

The Office Depot product will consist of the new co-branded (Aastra-supplied) 6755i Virtual Office IP phone, bundled with 8x8's Virtual Office Hosted PBX phone service. The new phone will replace the Virtual Office ST2118 analog business phone, which Office Depot has carried for the past couple of years.

"The 6755i Virtual Office IP phones developed jointly by 8x8 and Aastra have been favorably received by our subscribers since their introduction last summer, and we are excited to now offer this next generation product to Office Depot customers with the added convenience of retail availability," said 8x8 vice president of business and channel development, Huw Rees.

The 8x8/Aastra IP phones plug into any broadband Internet connection to allow users to immediately make or receive calls. And since the 6755i incorporates some advanced NAT (network address translation) traversal technology that 8x8 has developed, calls can be made across corporate firewalls without a lot of fussy network configuration or firewall manipulation.

Prod interface
The 8x8/Aastra 6755i Virtual Office IP phone and its in-store display

This makes for easy deployment—which is definitely what you want in a product that you buy at the local Office Depot.

In addition, the 8x8/Aastra IP phones deliver enhanced features including corporate directory display and lookup, extension dialing and transfers, intercom paging, shared line appearance, and an embedded XML browser.

The phone features full duplex speakerphone functionality, programmable softkey appearances, and LCD display screens, and supports PoE (power over Ethernet), which keeps deployment simple by eliminating the need for wiring a separate power supply for the phone. Moreover they are equipped with dual auto-sensing switched Ethernet ports, which in turn simplify installation by eliminating the need to provide a separate port for a computer. (That is, the computer connects to the IP network through the phone.)

"8x8 and Aastra have experienced great synergy working together on an OEM level, and we look forward to broadening our relationship into the retail sales and marketing channel," commented Aastra USA's senior vice president and general manager, Tim Whittington.

"The combination of Aastra's superior quality business IP phones together with 8x8's Award-winning business services—available direct to the end user through Office Depot—is a unique and compelling offer for the small and medium sized business market," he added.

This thought was echoed by Office Depot's vice president of merchandising, consumer electronics and peripherals, John Lostroscio. "We believe the 8x8 Virtual Office Business Phone System and new 8x8/Aastra co-branded IP phones offer an outstanding value that will benefit any business looking to enhance and save on their telecommunications costs by adopting proven IP technology. We are excited to be the first retailer to offer the newest 8x8/Aastra IP phone product in our stores."

The 8x8/Aastra 6755i telephone is currently available at Office Depot locations nationwide for an MSRP of $199.99.

This article was originally published on May 29, 2009
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