Cisco launches new VoIP line for businesses

Cisco Systems Inc. launched seven new IP telephony products for businesses late last month that are based around its Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data (AVVID) network infrastructure.

As part of its aim to create a global VoIP (voice-over IP) network, Cisco announced three software products aimed at increasing personal productivity.

The Cisco Personal Assistant, an IP-based telephony application, interoperates with Cisco CallManager and Microsoft Corp.’s Exchange to allow users to verbally sort through voice mail and dial by name. The software has a browser-based interface and allows users to set up rules of call forwarding and screening calls, as well as setting up conference calls without dialing. The Cisco Personal Assistant, available now, retails for US$4,995 and includes the Cisco IP Phone Productivity Services Suite, Cisco said in a statement.

The company also launched Cisco Unity 2.46 unified messaging. The software includes worldwide time zone and language support, as well as localization capabilities. The unified messaging application works with both legacy-circuit and packet-based switches. It can manage e-mail, voice mail and faxes through a single inbox from any device, including IP phones, cellular phones and PCs. Unity is interoperable with Cisco Personal Assistant and Cisco CallManager 3.1. It is available immediately, and pricing starts at US$145 per seat, the company said.

The final personal productivity application announced last month is the Cisco IP Phone Productivity Services (PPS) suite. The suite of applications based on XML (Extensible Markup Language) can effectively turn the Cisco 7960 and 7940 IP phones into Internet thin-client devices that can provide access to corporate and Internet Web servers.

The phones can then also be used for functions like e-mail, voice mail, calendar, and stock quotes. A development suite called the E-Service Application Engine lets developers create applications aimed at specific business needs. The application suite will be available in the third quarter of this year.

For customer service in small call centres within an enterprise, Cisco launched the IP Integrated Contact Distribution (IP-ICD). The application includes automated call distribution and custom contact interaction management for up to 48 agents. IP-ICD works with Cisco IP Interactive Voice Response and IP Automated Attendant applications. The IP-ICD is available immediately for US$4,995.

Cisco also launched an updated version of CallManager, its software-based call processing system. CallManager 3.1 adds 15 new features, including hold music and extension mobility, which allows an employee’s phone extension to be transferred to any of Cisco’s 7960 or 7940 IP phones. CallManager 3.1 is available immediately for US$5,995.

Cisco also introduced its Survivable Remote Site (SRS) Telephony application. SRS ensures against WAN failure by auto-configuring Cisco multiservice routers to provide call-processing backup for IP phones in branch offices. When the WAN comes back on-line, the system automatically shifts call-processing functions back to the centrally located CallManager. SRS Telephony is available now on the Cisco 2600 and 3600 series routers and the Catalyst 4224 Voice Gateway Switch.

On the hardware side, Cisco launched the Catalyst 4224 Voice Gateway Switch platform, an integrated Ethernet switching, IP routing and voice gateway device targeted at small branch offices with up to 24 users, Cisco said in a statement. The Catalyst 4224 can be used with Cisco SRS Telephony to provide backup services in the event of a WAN failure. The Catalyst 4224 retails for US$12,995.

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