Hit The DECT: 10 Hot DECT VoIP Phones, Tools

Wireless VoIP is becoming all the rage. But using Wi-Fi for voice can get tricky, with calls competing for bandwidth with data applications and other traffic. A number of vendors are bringing out phones based on DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) technology, an international standard known to be reliable, robust and secured. DECT can be deployed as a multi-cell solution for automatic, seamless and secure handover between access points.

DECT differs from Wi-Fi in that it is designed specifically for voice, where as Wi-Fi is designed for data. Voice over Wi-Fi requires software applications for inter-cell handover and offers minimal power management which can result in lower talk and standby times. DECT has native support for inter-cell handover and power management and also offers a much larger range than a typical Wi-Fi access point. Additionally, Wi-Fi uses the often crowded 2.4 GHz frequency, while DECT uses 1.9 GHz, resulting in less interference.

Here are some hot solutions in the DECT world.

On Monday, German phone-maker Snom released the M3 (pictured), a DECT phone with a range of 164 feet indoors and 328 feet outdoors. The M3 features a 128 pixel by 128 pixel display, a battery that offers 10 hours of calling and 100 hours of standby and 12 numerical, five navigation and two function keys.

Other features include speakerphone, automatic registration, separate charging cradle and polyphonic ringtones. Additional, eight M3 handsets can be used per base station and eight SIP registrations are available with different servers or registrars. The M3 can deliver up to three concurrent calls per base station, three-way conferencing and remote setup with password protection.

Snom also unveiled the Snom DECT Repeater, a device that can double the range of the M3 to 238 feet indoors and 656 feet outdoors. The Repeater complements the DECT Base Station and features plug-and-play activation and two internal antennas for seamless inter-cell Base Station-Repeater handoffs. Each DECT Base Station can scale to support up to six Repeaters at one time.

Polycom is also playing in the DECT space, which until recently has seen bigger uptake in Europe than North America.

Earlier this year, Polycom released the Kirk Wireless Server 600v3 (pictured) in North America. The server, designed for SMBs, enables mobile voice and connects to SIP-based IP-PBX systems. The server can support up to 35 users and is expandable. An integrated server/base station design uses the wired IP network for IP-PBX connectivity to deliver communications over the 1.9 GHz signal.

Polycom has also recently released a new general office handset, the Kirk 5020 (pictured). The lightweight phone features a color display with icons as well as text. The 5020 also supports text messaging and speakerphone. It has a vibrating option, a 250-entry address book and offers talk and standby time of 20 hours and 200 hours, respectively.

Another Polycom DECT phone, the Kirk 4020 (pictured), features a graphic display, an alarm key, internal/external ring patters and volume control. The slick phone also offers a phone book for 200 number and names, auto log in and LED indication of incoming and unanswered calls.

Along with a host of other features, the 4020 also offers 16 hours of talk time and 150 hours of standby time, text messaging and nine different ringtones.

Polycom's Kirk 4040 (pictured) is a step up from the 4020 with many of the same features. The 4040 differs however in that it has IP 54 classification to protect against dust and splashing water.

Avaya has been offering DECT devices for the past few years. The 3701 DECT handset (pictured) is a low cost, basic function device. It supports basic telephony features, a 50-entry contact list, multiple ring tones, 12 languages (Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish) and has a talk time of 20 hours and standby time of 200 hours.

Last year, Avaya released the 3711 IP DECT handset. The 3711 (pictured) supports many of the same features as the 3701, but adds a larger display, easy-to-use menus for access to Communication Manager and IP Office features, corporate director integration, WAP browsing and 10 languages (the same supported by the 3701 minus Czech and Norwegian).

Aastra Telecom's SIP-based enterprise DECT solution has also made waves. The Aastra SIP-DECT Solution offers interference-free SIP voice. It lets users take the features and voice quality of their desk phone with them throughout the office or branch serviced by the corporate network.

Aastra's SIP-DECT 142 handsets (pictured) feature a five-line illuminated display with two soft keys for feature access, an illuminated keypad, a variety of informational status displays, an SOS key for an emergency speed dial number, caller/directory and redial lists and hands-free operation with a built in speaker and handset jack.

Aastra's SIP-DECT system, using DECT 142 handsets and RFP 32 IP DECT access points can help business grow as they need to. Handsets and access points can be added to expand the solution and up to 512 handsets can be deployed using up to 256 IP access points.

Nortel Networks also works with DECT, offering the Integrated DECT Handset 4025 (pictured) a mid-range wireless handset for highly mobile on-site workers. The lightweight 4025 is pocket-sized and features a backlit display, a 50 name directory telephone book plus caller list and call filter, hands-free with built-in loudspeaker and battery life of 15 hours of talk and 200 hours of standby. The 4025 takes three standard AAA batteries and can use a multi-charger, which can be shared with other Nortel DECT handsets.