Mitel to extend PBX to outsiders

Although it’s three months away, Mitel Networks is already drumming up interest in the next release of its call control software.

Release 10 of Communications Director will introduce Dynamic Extension, giving users of the Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform the ability to designate up to eight phones to be rung when a call is made through a linked PBX. No client software is needed and the devices can be any hard or softphone. As a result, Mitel says, organizations don’t have to standardize on office or mobile phones.

For example, a mobile worker in a supplier’s office who is out of cell phone range could, by calling his employer’s PBX and entering a PIN number, set one of the supplier’s phones to ring for his calls.

“So it’s very simple for keeping people in touch with and through their corporation,” Stephen Beamish, Mitel’s vice-president for business development and marketing said Thursday in an interview.

In another example of how the capability can be used, he cited a U.S. company that in a found it expensive to pay for employees using RIM’s Blackberry smartphone for business and personal calls. Instead, by using Dynamic Extension in a pilot, it saved money as staffers made business calls through the company’s PBX, and personal calls on a separate phone.

The devices don’t have to be Mitel phones, he said. Nor, does a customer have to rip out an old PBX and install one from Mitel. The feature can be turned on by attaching a Mitel 3300 at the gateway or running the Communications Platform on a Sun, HP or IBM server, which is the hooked to the legacy PBX by a PRI line. That enables any phone for IP telephony.

Dynamic Extension is the first of what the Ottawa company calls its Series X features, which are aimed at “simplifying the user experience,” Beamish said. It comes as part of the July release of Communications Director, which will have other enhancements Beamish wouldn’t discuss.

Telecom analyst Mike Sapium of Ovum said many organizations might find Dynamic Extension valuable.. “I can visualize how it can save [money],” he said. “One, with the ability of having a remote worker use the services off the PBX, and second, the ability of international companies to save on roaming charges … It’s a very interesting feature many customers would want to use.”

For the time being Mitel has an advantage with this capability over most of its competitors, he said. Although Dynamic Extension won’t be available until R.10 of Communications Director is out, Mitel is offering an incentive to those who buy R.9 now: They’ll get a free upgrade to R.10, plus 10 free unified communications licences.

Beamish denied Mitel is trying to push the upcoming release. “It’s a standard thing we do,” he said. “When we have something coming out we want to make sure everybody gets access to it as quickly as possible. If we don’t do it this way there are a lot of people upset that they didn’t get access sooner.”

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