Unified communications products abound

Latest trend is for combining mobile phone, desk phone capability.

Network convergence, as in unified communications across applications and between wired and wireless modes, again is a big theme at VoiceCon, in San Francisco this week.

Announcements Monday, and others expected later this week, concentrated on tying voice mail, call forwarding and other features of business desk phones with cell phones. The innovations move a step further than those announced by vendors at VoiceCon's March conference.

For example, Sprint Nextel announced the availability of wireless integration with Cisco Unified Communications Manager, meaning that Sprint CDMA phones can be fully integrated into Cisco's UCM. That will allow companies to route calls over IP and reduce toll calls, Sprint said in a statement. Many of the capabilities offered by Sprint today are based on innovations Cisco Systems unveiled in March 2007.

The Sprint-Cisco service will also allow IT managers to set restrictions on mobile device usage, as is commonly done with a desk phone, such as preventing users from making 900-number or international calls. Mobile calls can also be tracked and logged. Corporate voice mail and intracompany calls can be extended to cell phones.

The deal also should give end users simpler dialing, such as calling a co-worker's extension. One phone number and one voice mail on both cell phones and desk phones would also be possible. No details on the cost of the service were provided.

Avaya offers speech-to-text

In another example of unifying communications, Avaya Monday announced a capability for workers to read voice-mail messages on their cell phones or computers. Called Avaya Speech to Text, the system works with any e-mail system and any connected mobile device, delivering the text messages with Caller ID information. It was developed with Mutare Software and SpinVox. Details on pricing were not announced.

Also, Avaya said it has come up with software to combine many voice and video telephony and unified communications applications into a single package called Unified Communications All Inclusive. Avaya said the package, available now, will have no added cost for customers of Avaya Communication Manager 5.0 Enterprise Edition and will cost $50 per user for an upgrade to the Communication Manager 5.0 Standard Edition.

In a statement, Avaya listed eight different components of the All Inclusive package, including support of H.323 and SIP audio and video through Avaya One-X Communicator. All types of communications media can be reached through a single interface via One-X, Avaya said.

Also, One-X Mobile from Avaya will enable call routing, voice-to-text e-mail and directory access through a single interface on 500 different mobile devices, including the Apple iPhone and phones from Research In Motion, including its BlackBerry line, and Windows Mobile devices.

Mitel offers mobile unified clients

Also today, Mitel Networks announced a family of desktop and mobile unified communications clients. They include Mitel Unified Communicator Mobile, which provides a single number and voice mailbox to mobile devices and lets users make cellular calls over the a business network to minimize calling charges. The Mitel technology can be used on devices running he Windows Mobile, Symbian and RIM BlackBerry operating systems.

Mitel also announced Mitel TeleCollaboration, which enables a wider range of users to be involved in high-definition telepresence collaborations. Mitel's unified communications desktop clients will allow small branch offices and home-based workers to be involved in telepresence meetings, regardless of their location. Pricing was not announced.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
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