VoIP Wars Heat Up at VON


Companies such as Polycom, Allworx and Apparent Networks are all launching new wares solution providers can use to build IP telephony solutions.

Polycom at the conference plans to unveil a new VoIP desktop phone, the first to incorporate the vendor's new high-fidelity voice technology.

The new SoundPoint IP 650 handset supports Polycom HD Voice, a new wideband technology from the vendor that provides two times to four times the clarity of ordinary phone calls, said Jim Kruger, vice president of marketing at Polycom.

The new phone provides six lines and also supports Polycom's SoundPoint IP Expansion Modules, which can increase the line count to 12 or 24 concurrent calls for attendants and administrative assistants that need to monitor multiple lines.

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The SoundPoint IP 650 incorporates SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), making it compatible with SIP-based IP telephony platforms from vendors such as Digium, Interactive Intelligence, Pingtel and Whaleback Systems.

The high-definition handset is scheduled for availability in the fourth quarter for a list price of $449.

Polycom at the conference is also launching its VoIP Interoperability Partner (VIP) program for technology vendors that manufacture SIP-based call-control platforms. Through the program, Polycom is certifying vendors whose IP-PBX or softswitch product lines are interoperable with its SoundStation IP desktop and conference phones and SIP software. Vendors that have earned VIP certification include Digium, Netcentrex, Objectworld, Pingtel and Whaleback.

SMB VoIP vendor Allworx expanded its portfolio with a new IP phone system for customers with fewer than 100 users.

In addition to VoIP and traditional analog interfaces, the new Allworx 24x phone system also includes integrated support for T1/PRI interfaces, a first for the vendor. As a result, the new system will be a good fit for small business customers that are taking advantage of new, cheaper PRI (Primary Rate Interface) offerings from service providers, said Tom Elliott, vice president of business development at Allworx, Fairport, NY.

"A lot of CLECs are delivering more services on PRI to small businesses," Elliott said. "Our dealers have been looking for this."

The system also includes features such as multiple conference call bridges, call queuing, voicemail, auto attendant, remote user capabilities and an integrated router and firewall.

John VanDenBush, president and owner of Technology Systems, a Scottsville, NY-based solution provider, said the new product will enable his company to target a larger group of customers with Allworx than it could in the past.

"If you get over 30 employees, you're regularly dealing with T1 interfaces, so it's a big plus that now we can go that way," VanDenBush said.

Meanwhile, Apparent Networks is unveiling a partnership with Nortel Networks that will incorporate its network diagnostic technology into Nortel's VoIP portfolio.

Through the partnership, Nortel plans to supplement its Proactive Voice Quality Management strategy by integrating Apparent's AppCritical network assessment software with its IP telephony line in order to help ensure quality VoIP services over the enterprise network.