Nortel dials up new VoIP solutions

Nortel Networks Corp., one of the world’s largest providers of enterprise telephony, has released two new VOIP (voice over IP) products at the NetWorld+Interop show in Las Vegas.

The first, the Succession Communications Server for Enterprise (CSE) 1000 server, is an evolution of the company’s long-standing Meridian PBX line, according to Nick Pegley, Nortel’s vice president of converged voice solutions. The server is intended for large enterprises.

For branch offices and smaller offices, Nortel also released Version 2.5 of its Business Communications Manager system. The release will let enterprises run IP phones directly on user desktops. Consisting of both hardware and software, Business Communications Manager includes IP telephones, a LAN switch to provide quality of service, and a software component to provide advanced call center and unified messaging applications.

The QoS (quality of service) feature, which works by prioritizing voice traffic and monitoring and correcting latency, will let companies provide IP telephony services without expanding bandwidth, Pegley said. He also noted that the new products offer a migration path for businesses that already use Nortel telephony gear.

Moreover, users will be able to install telephone features on their laptop computers for mobile phone access, according to Pegley.

Some industry analysts believe that VOIP adoption is dragging because enterprises do not perceive any qualitative advantage of IP telephony over conventional phone systems. But according to Pegley, the feature set built into the Brampton, Ont.-based networker’s new devices will appeal to enterprises. “We understand business’ needs,” Pegley said, citing the company’s long history of manufacturing telephones for enterprises.

Meridian has 20 different ways of doing call forwarding, Pegley said. “You might think that no one forwards a call 20 different ways. But we’ve had to develop those features over time because someone needed them. So we have this library of features. I don’t think any CIO could implement anything just on the basis of cost savings if internal customers ended up getting less functionality,” he said.

Business Communications Manager 2.5 will cost roughly US$600 to $700 per seat in settings with fewer than 20 users. Pegley said that the pricing could drop to as low as $500 per seat for larger installations. No pricing for the Succession server was given. Both products will ship at the end of June.