With exciting VoIP news from Siemens, Mitel, Inter-Tel, Lucent, and others, it sure looks like their product announcements signal a long-range strategic shift to IP. These major players are taking VoIP for real. In the last few years, they’ve given customers VoIP gateway modems to avoid toll charges. Now, with IP PBXs and new IP phones to go with them, manufacturers are bringing the VoIP revolution right to the desktop. Besides lowering cabling costs, Siemens’ LP 1500 IP phone, Mitel’s new 4015 IP phone, and Lucent’s 4606 IP have the potential to bring new services to users. After all, the industry intention was never just to duplicate phone services with an all-IP infrastructure — as impressive as that is — but to supercede what’s currently available.
Thankfully, PBX vendors that have embraced VoIP can make the transition to VoIP easy for you. Whether you just want to experiment with VoIP trunking or move quickly toward an IP PBX and IP phones, they can guide you through the VoIP maze, floor by floor and branch by branch, devising a plan that lets you keep your existing telecom infrastructure.
Branch By Branch
For businesses with multiple branches that already have significant data traffic (email, file transfers, and remote logins) flowing between offices (and the WAN infrastructure to support it all), the first VoIP step to make is VoIP trunking. Assuming the network has been overbuilt and that there’s extra bandwidth, you can purchase VoIP gateways and route some of the voice traffic over the WAN, avoiding toll charges, eliminating tie lines, and saving some real money. Payback on the initial investment is probably less than a year, a fact that CFOs like; for businesses with overseas branches, the return can be even sooner.
In the September 1999 issue, we gave you several VoIP modems to choose from, but the two standouts were MultiTech’s (Mounds View, MN — 612-785-3500) MultiVOIP and Siemens‘ (Boca Raton, FL — 800-765-6123) Telephony Information Server.
I spoke to the folks at MultiTech about their easy-to-configure gateway, and they told me how they saved tons of money for a customer with branch offices in a certain South American country.
The Siemens Technology
The Siemens NT-based Telephony Information Server is a VoIP gateway that can route voice calls from a HiCom 300E or other legacy PBX over frame relay, ATM, or ISDN. Unlike many VoIP gateways, it checks the WAN level of congestion by sending out test packets before it decides to route VoIP packets. If the traffic is too heavy, it will put the voice back on the PSTN, preserving voice quality. VoIP gateways that have PSTN fallback are worth paying more for as you move your business to IP.