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Publisher's Outlook
July 2002


Rich Tehrani

High On IP Centrex

BY RICH TEHRANI


Last month, I discussed some of the positive signs that Ive noticed that lead me to believe that the industry is feeling its way through a modest recovery or rather that the levels of optimism are about as high as Ive seen them in the past several months. Nevertheless, it appears to me that many companies are still shying away from the big purchase order. Folks are hesitant to pursue capital expenditure strategies right now, and so they are holding off on investing in telecom equipment including upgrades to existing PBXs or key systems, or the purchase of completely new IP PBX solutions. And yet, many of these companies readily admit the need to upgrade their aging telecommunications systems. One alternative is IP Centrex. And its an alternative that has me pretty excited.

According to SBCs Web site (www.sbc.com), IP Centrex is an outsourced solution for businesses that is implemented in a service providers existing central offices to transform an enterprise data network into a convergent voice/data network. Benefits to the customer include the ability to add enhanced services such as those available off a traditional, premises-based PBX without having to invest in any CPE. Some of these services include: Call Transfer; Call Forwarding; Call Waiting; Calling Line ID Delivery and Blocking; Distinctive Alert/Ringing; Do Not Disturb; Extension Dialing; IP Phone Support; Last Number Redial; Integration with Microsoft Outlook; and more.

Back in May of this year, SBC unveiled an agreement with Lucent Technologies whereby Lucent would provide SBC with an IP Centrex solution targeted at SBCs business customers. According to the release, the Lucent solution incorporates the Lucent iMerge Centrex Feature Gateway (CFG) and the SpringTide 7000 IP Service Switch. The iMerge CFG designed to work with any Class 5 switch serves as a bridge between circuit-switched networks and IP network infrastructures, delivering the features and functionality of that Class 5 switch on the packet network. The SpringTide 7000 provides virtual routing and advanced IP services for enterprise security and address management.

The IP Centrex announcement was part of SBCs unveiling of a whole range of CO-based services including IP telephony, DSL, and Web-enabled services, as well as a custom caller ID feature specifically for Centrex customers. The carriers Centrex IP offering utilizes voice over packet transport, enabling customers to integrate their own voice and data networks over a single LAN to support a companys business communications needs. The broad rollout builds on a successful 1,600-station trial at Lucents facility in Lisle, Illinois using the iMerge CFG.

In fact, the SBC/Lucent deployment news is further evidence that IP Centrex is a serious application with tremendous potential. Sylantro Systems (www.sylantro.com) recently announced the completion of phase two of an ongoing market research study undertaken to measure the size, potential, and drivers for the IP Centrex/Hosted PBX market. The report, Research Update: Hosted PBX and IP Centrex in the Enterprise, analyzes the underlying attitudes and opinions that will influence the outsourcing of telephony services. Additional information regarding the report can be had by contacting Sylantro directly at information@sylantro.com.

Sylantro is also moving ahead with their own IP Centrex plans, which include taking advantage of the ever more ubiquitous session initiation protocol (SIP). The company recently announced a new attendant soft-console that combines directory components and presence capabilities, underscoring the value that presence brings to telephony applications. Using SIP, Sylantros console gives business users a new approach to managing calls from a central, departmental, or even remote receptionist station.

The new Sylantro soft-console allows receptionists or departmental assistants to perform standard console functions such as viewing the status of incoming calls and transferring calls, but also includes an intuitive interface with color-coded status icons and easy point-and-click control. In addition, the attendant soft-console provides enhanced features such as called-party status, presence indicators, and unique hold treatments for different types of callers.

The reason Im so high on IP Centrex is simple its an application that allows service providers to offer a service that enterprises increasingly need and want and are willing to pay for. In this ongoing economic slump, thats no small feat. The ability to create revenue in an otherwise down market is certainly something that deserves mention. And its yet another positive sign that somewhere in the deep dark recesses of this cloud shines a silver lining. If youve seen other IP telephony applications that are proving to be winners, Id love to hear about it. Drop me a line at rtehrani@tmcnet.com.

[ Return To The July 2002 Table Of Contents ]


Endless Summer

As I write this, the thermometer is showing  90+ degrees for the first time this year (here in coastal Connecticut). Summers here! But as much as I wish it were summer all year long, my thoughts spring ahead to October. The crisp fall air, the cool days and first frosty nights Unless of course, you make your way out to Southern California Coronado Island off the coast of San Diego to be specific. Thats where we are hosting the sixth installment of INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO, October 13.

This show has always been one of the industrys high points: The exciting hustle and bustle of the Exhibit Hall, the content-rich conferences, the sunset networking receptions overlooking the Pacific this is truly the one event industry insiders look forward to all year long. And this year there are a plethora of new and exciting developments that you should know about. Weve added three new workshop summits to an already education-rich conference program: SIP Developers Day, Wireless IP Telephony Summit, and SALT Summit. Also Im proud to announce the all-new IP PBX Shootout, where you can hear leading vendors debate the virtues of their competing products. Theres so much more to say about the upcoming show and frankly Im running out of room Go to the Web site at www.itexpo.com for all the information you need. And who knows, summer just might be summer well into October.

[ Return To The July 2002 Table Of Contents ]



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