Cisco Introduces Subscription Pricing for Cloud and Premises
The collaboration team at Cisco has been working to find solutions that ease the buying decision process and remove some of the barriers typically associated with purchasing a business communications solution. Upfront costs, complex installations, lengthy deployments and long-term contracts - all part of the traditional on-premises communications system buying process - are viewed unfavorably in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive business environment and detract from what should be the focus of any organization, namely streamlining operations, making employees more productive and improving customer service. Subscribing to unified communications “as-a-service” (UCaaS) is quickly gaining favor in part for the associated budgetary advantages that include reduced capital expenses and predictable per-user monthly fees (there are also a number of strategic benefits; more on that here).
To this end, Cisco has come up with a way to take at least the “how to buy” decision – cloud versus premises – off the table by offering the same subscription-based pricing (a recurring, operational expenditure or OPEX) for both cloud and premises deployments. The new Cisco Spark Flex Plan makes the buying process simpler for customers, whether they opt for a cloud-based service or an on-site installation – or even a mix of on-site equipment and cloud-based services if that best fits their particular business requirements. Business communications vendors like Cisco that have added cloud UC services to their portfolios of on-premises IP-PBX, contact center, messaging, meeting and UC solutions are uniquely able to offer these flexible cloud-premises arrangements. A number of market studies, in fact, indicate a growing preference for hybrid implementations, and vendors are responding by rolling out hybrid solutions at a fairly rapid pace. A single subscription price is even more desirable in these mixed scenarios.
Cisco also introduces the new Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service that can deliver the cloud-based Spark Meeting service as a local instance on the customer’s premises, combining the video quality of on-premises meetings with the simplicity, flexibility and ease of adding future innovations that come with a cloud-based service. And, the new Cisco Spark Depot pulls together an online catalog of Cisco and non-Cisco business applications and “bots.” See below for more on all three new Spark-related offers which are generally available as of November 1, 2016.
Cisco Spark Flex Plan
Some businesses require on-premises communications equipment for their particular business operation and would welcome a simpler payment model. The new Cisco Spark Flex Plan addresses this, with a single subscription plan that offers the same pricing for both cloud and on-site Cisco deployments. With the plan, customers that opt to install a telephony system on-site will have no up-front software licensing expenses, and instead will spread this out as a pay-as-you-go monthly subscription fee (customers will still need to purchase the server equipment that will run the software). The consistent cloud-premises pricing also makes it easier to move to an all-cloud solution in the future, if and when this makes sense for their particular business operation.
Earlier this year, Cisco introduced Spark pricing packages comprised of cloud services, namely Cisco Spark Message and Cisco Spark Meetings (“M” level packages – M1, M2 and M3) and Cisco Spark Call (a “C” level package that can be layered on top of each M package – C1, C2 and C3). The new Cisco Spark Flex Plan extends the pricing packages to include premises-based equipment. Specifically, the Message and Advanced Meetings package (M3) now lets customers select either WebEx cloud services or Cisco’s on-site Meeting Server (introduced last August and based on technology from the Acano acquisition). Additionally, the Call (C level) packages allow the customer to select cloud-based or on-premises call control, either Spark Call (cloud) or Cisco’s on-premises Unified Communications Manager, Unity Connection, Emergency Responder or Expressway products (Cisco’s Business Edition 6000 servers and Cisco’s Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) are planned for inclusion in this new pricing model later).
The Flex Plan monthly subscription pricing depends on the number of users, with three tiers as follows: 250-1,999 users, 2,000-9,999 users and 10,000+ users. As an example, Message and Advanced Meetings (M3) is priced $12.50 per user per month for the 250-1,999 volume tier, whether the company selects WebEx or the Cisco Meeting Server. Cisco Spark Call (C3), which includes M3, is $24.25 per user per month for the same volume tier, whether the company selects Cisco Spark UCaaS or deploys Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager on-site. Cisco customers with existing perpetual licenses (CUWL, UCL, or UC ELA, etc.) will be able to trade these in for six months of credit toward an M3 or C3 plan (some rules and restrictions apply). The minimum contract term is one year for all tiers if there are no trade-in credits, or a minimum two-year contract if the customer is taking advantage of the perpetual license migration program.
Initially, the Cisco Spark Flex Plan will be a “company-wide” subscription, but in the future, Cisco expects to add buying models that are priced per individual user or based on the number of concurrent meetings. The new pricing plan for Cisco Spark Meetings (or WebEx or Cisco Meeting Server) is initially available in 37 countries. The cloud-based Cisco Spark Call service is available in the U.S. for now, while the on-premises option is available in all 37 countries.
Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service
Cisco aims to simplify conferencing and collaboration with the new Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service that takes away the need for an IT manager to decide between a cloud- or premises-based conferencing deployment. A subscription to Cisco Spark Meeting now includes Spark Hybrid Media Node software which is available as a free download (as an OVA file) to an on-site customer-provided server and which delivers the cloud-based Cisco Spark Meeting service as a local instance on the customer’s premises. Intelligence in the software determines the “best” way to deliver the conference experience – that is, as a cloud-based Cisco Spark Meeting experience when internal and external (remote) participants will be attending, or as an on-site meeting run locally when only local participants are attending which eliminates or minimizes the delay experienced by having to “hairpin” the voice and data transmission out to a cloud data center and back again. Local meetings can span multiple locations, anywhere in the world, that are connected via a corporate WAN.
In this first phase, each Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Node can handle up to 55 meeting participants, and Nodes can be added to accommodate as many on-premises attendees as required. If local capacity (Hybrid Media Nodes) is full, the software automatically overflows additional attendees to the cloud, ensuring everyone can join the meeting (there are no overage fees for this attendee overflow). In essence, the Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service enables one meeting experience whether participants enter the meeting locally or via the cloud.
The Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service is a new category of “hybrid” that adds to other Spark hybrid capabilities announced earlier in 2016 in which Cisco Spark Messaging and Meeting services can complement and enhance the functionality available with a premises-based Cisco Unified Communications Manager system deployment (Business Edition 6000 or 7000 or Cisco UCM). Read more here on the four Cisco Spark Hybrid Services that became generally available last March.
Cisco Spark Depot
Cisco has developed a new website to host its growing catalog of Spark-related applications. At the new Cisco Spark Depot, business organizations will be able to easily access and integrate a variety of applications and “bots” to improve their business processes. As an example, Cisco points to an HR team using the Spark collaboration tool to track the “onboarding” of new employees. This team also utilizes the third party application Redbooth for project management. Bot software integrates the Redbooth workspace with the Spark Room so team members do not have to toggle between the two applications. Updates made in one tool will be seen by the rest of the team. In other words, when a member of the HR team updates a task using a Redbooth template, an automated message is displayed in the HR team’s Spark room; others on the team will see this notification and can collaborate as needed. Per Cisco, such integrations will likely create a “stickiness” that will make Cisco Spark a central and (hopefully) irreplaceable part of an organization’s day-to-day business processes.
At launch, Spark Depot enables access to 70 applications, including 40 native Cisco applications and 30 third party applications. New integrations are anticipated on a weekly basis and can be published for all Cisco Spark users, or made available only to users on an organization’s own domain.
ESI Evolves the eCloud PBX
It was more than two years ago that Estech Systems Inc. (ESI) officially launched the ESI Cloud PBX, a subscription-based hosted telephony service for businesses in North America. The hosted offer, now known as eCloud PBX, has evolved since then, with sales growing some 40% year-over-year and outpacing the company’s premises business in terms of percentage of growth (though premises systems remain the majority - 80% - of ESI’s total revenue).
ESI has a channel-only sales approach (no direct sales) with 600 active partners. Of these, about 225 are Sales Agents Partners now actively selling the eCloud PBX service through the ESI Partner Program. This is up from 40 partners when the service was initially launched in 2014.
As background, in January 2013, ESI purchased the retail assets of Vintalk, including the infrastructure and the customer base associated with Vintalk’s SIP trunking and hosted PBX solutions. Subsequently, ESI began offering the SIP trunking service, along with hosted audio conferencing, fax services and a disaster recovery solution. In mid-2014, ESI launched the ESI Cloud PBX hosted/cloud telephony service tightly integrated with its own line of SIP telephones, giving its customers subscription-based alternative to installing telephone system equipment on-site. ESI has sold business telephony systems in North America for 29 years. The company currently offers a family of premises-based IP-enabled Communications Servers (ESI-50/100/200/600/1000) and a native IP system (ESI IP Server 900).
For the last couple of years, ESI has been focused on the user experience and understanding the needs and behaviors of workers when they are in an office. What usage patterns are associated with an office desk phone versus the ESI Web-based dashboard versus a mobile phone? When (and why) are users turning to one "communications interface" over another? This study led ESI to redesign its mobile client application (Ditto) and align that user experience with a newly-developed, next-generation phone (the ePhone7) to bring smartphone simplicity to a business desktop telephone. Additionally, the eCloud PBX user packages have been restructured into five plans (up from three with the initial launch), including a lower cost metered offering for users with more moderate phone usage.
Enhanced ePhoneGo Mobile App
Customers that subscribe to the more advanced ESI eCloud PBX user packages can download the Ditto client application to an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet to conveniently access ESI desk phone features on-the-go. This includes managing calls to/from an office phone number (single number reach), configuring feature settings and receiving voicemail notifications. A re-designed user interface, a split screen layout for iOS and Android tablets, WiFi to 4G/LTE hand-off, presence status indicators for the contact directory and Bluetooth headset support are among the more recent enhancements. The Ditto mobile application is included with eCloud PBX Select Plus, Premier and Premier Plus user seats (more on the seat bundles below). A similar mobile client application is also available for ESI’s IP Server 900 on-premises telephony system.
The office desk phone is not obsolete – yet. High quality audio, recording and speakerphone capabilities remain a necessity in conference rooms and during critical business conversations. And while today’s office desk telephones excel at audio quality, they are often difficult to program and lack the convenience, intuitiveness and ease-of-use of a mobile smartphone which has become the preferred device for quick and easy management of communications. With this in mind, the engineers at ESI have developed the new ESI ePhone desktop phone series, including the latest ePhone7 next-gen device that combines the simplicity of the mobile phone experience with quick and easy access to common business phone features that workers require from an office telephone.
The ePhone7 is a “contact-centric” device (no physical buttons) designed for managers, executives and operators. Contacts are organized and displayed on a large 7-inch color touchscreen in four categories - Personal, Coworkers, Favorites and Groups - without any need to program speed dials or DSS keys. Personal contacts can be imported from a Google account, and Coworkers and Groups are automatically synchronized with the extensions and departments that are provisioned in the system. ePhone7 also integrates ESI’s eLocation feature that displays a contact’s presence status (on a call, do not disturb, available, etc.), but also whether a coworker is physically in the building (in the office or away). Common business calling features (transfer, hold, park, record, mute, etc.) are simple one-touch buttons as are call history, missed voicemails and easy access to dialing.
ESI's ePhone7 has been in beta with ESI’s eCloud PBX customers, and after tweaking and enhancing with months of feedback, general availability is expected soon. Already on the market is the ePhone4 for active business users, a 4-inch color display phone with a real-time view of calls, history and voicemail. ESI also offers two traditional SIP-based desktop phones, the ESI 30SIP business phone for lower usage needs and the ESI 45SIP Gigabit model for more active users.
Restructured eCloud PBX User Bundles
Customers that subscribe to eCloud PBX can now select from five user packages – Metered, Select, Select Plus, Premier and Premier Plus, which have evolved since the initial introduction of the service. Per seat pricing is based on the length of the contract and the total number of seats and ranges from $15.95-$49.95 per user per month. Each user package includes an ESI phone in the seat price, either the ESI 30SIP or the ESI 45SIP business phone. Select and Premier users can upgrade to one of the next-gen ePhone color display telephones described above for an extra one-time, non-recurring fee.
- Select and Select Plus user seats are designed for the general office user that requires standard/essential telephone features. This includes unlimited local and long distance calling within North America, standard telephony features, unified messaging (visual voicemail and voicemail-to-email notification) and a real-time view of call activity and call history via ESI’s Web-based dashboard. Select Plus users can also opt for ESI’s ePhoneGo mobile client application for iOS and Android mobile devices or a desktop client (softphone).
- Premier and Premier Plus seats are designed for executives, managers and “power” users that require more advanced functionality. Premier seats include all Select and Select Plus features, plus Web-based user administration, on-demand call recording, custom call routing, call queuing, multiple device management for two (Premier) or three (Premier Plus) phone devices and the ePhone Go mobile application. Premier Plus also includes 25-party meet-me conferencing (unlimited inbound, 500 outbound minutes).
- Metered plans are available for moderate phone users and limit local and long distance usage to 100 minutes of outbound calling (additional minutes are chargeable).
ESI understands that individual businesses have unique needs and requirements. A “one size fits all” solution is never the answer. ESI is able to offer flexibility in deployment options, with business communications solutions that are subscription-based (cloud) or installed on-site (premises) – or a hybrid of the two.
Cloud: There is a lot of focus on cloud-based telephony now as acceptance and adoption of hosted/cloud solutions for business telephony and unified communications continues to accelerate. Businesses, small to large, recognize the benefits in subscribing to unified communications “as-a-service” (UCaaS) versus purchasing and installing hardware and software on-site. There are obvious budgetary advantages to selecting a cloud solution such as reduced capital expenses, fewer IT personnel and predictable per-user monthly fees, to name a few. But, there are also strategic advantages in terms of scale, consistency across a network and the ease of adding future innovations that are appealing particularly to organizations with multiple, geographically-dispersed offices. ESI has this option covered with its eCloud PBX hosted offer described above.
Premises: Despite the cloud, ESI understands the importance of an installed base of customers that want to continue using existing telephony equipment in their office locations, as well as new customers that prefer an on-site deployment to meet particular business requirements. For these customers, ESI continues to develop and enhance its premises-based business communications products for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) across North America. This includes a family of IP-enabled Communications Servers (ESI-50/100/200/600/1000) and a native IP system (ESI IP Server 900), along with associated ESI phones and applications. These systems can take advantage of ESI’s SIP Trunking service for transmitting of voice, video and data over a single broadband connection. Recent software releases have added new capabilities such as a full-featured call accounting product (and a “lite” version) and new features important to contact centers and customer service, including CRM integrations with click-to-call and a screen capture capability with audio recording.
Hybrid Cloud: ESI also addresses the hybrid cloud trend with several cloud-based applications available to customers, whether they have installed one of the company’s premises-based business communications systems or subscribe to the ESI eCloud PBX service. Current cloud applications include hosted reservation-less “meet-me” conferencing for up to 50 participants, a Virtual fax service for receiving/sending faxes via email and ESI’s Abillity cloud-based billing application. Additional cloud applications are in development, including a hosted contact center capability (in beta now), CRM integration with Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365, voicemail transcription and collaborative desktop sharing. Stay tuned.
NEC UNIVERGE BLUE: What's New, What's Next?
NEC continues to evolve UNIVERGE BLUE, the company’s unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) offering first launched in March 2013 as NEC UNIVERGE Cloud Services. NEC is focusing on simplification and making it easier for channel partners to position, sell and support the cloud-based offer. Solicitation of partner and customer feedback through a cloud focus group has resulted in several recent advancements, including new dealer-friendly and hospitality pricing models (Net Pricing), a more responsive self-service portal (developed in-house), newly configured user bundles (more options for all user types) and a new family of telephones compatible with other NEC platforms (investment protection).
UNIVERGE BLUE is available directly from NEC and through NEC channel partners in the United States and now in Canada (European coverage is planned). To date, over 200 NEC partners have signed up to sell the subscription-based UCaaS service in addition to NEC’s on-premises telephony equipment portfolio.
NEC's cloud service uses the company’s UNIVERGE 3C as the core software. Using the same software stream for both the premises and the cloud offer makes hybrid configurations possible in which a business can install telephony equipment on-site and/or utilize cloud services according to their particular business communications needs and requirements - the same familiar features are available in either deployment model. For example, the UNIVERGE BLUE cloud service can act as a disaster recovery solution for an on-premises UNIVERGE 3C system, or vice versa. Or, businesses that have installed the UNIVERGE 3C at a main office can subscribe to the UNIVERGE BLUE cloud service at branch locations.
- NET Pricing: A new UNIVERGE BLUE pricing model allows dealers to purchase user licenses (Basic, Standard and Premium seat types) from NEC at a fixed cost and then set the pricing according to local market economics and competition. The new NET Pricing model is available with monthly, three- and five-year contracts. NEC also offers a similar concept for its cloud-based hospitality solution, with fixed NEC prices for three seat types (Guest Room, Front Desk Phone and Amenity Phone) that can be subsequently marked-up by the reseller.
- Self-service: Based on dealer feedback, NEC has developed a new self-service portal for dealers that simplifies the ordering and quoting process (the earlier portal was developed by a third party vendor). The new portal is also designed to be “responsive” in that the user experience is the same whether the portal is accessed on a desktop or on a mobile smartphone or tablet.
- User Bundles: Currently, NEC offers three user seat types, Basic, Standard and Premium, but has made some changes within each package to help simplify the offer and to add more options. NEC has eliminated the Essentials package introduced in late 2015, folding the Essentials elements into a single Basic package which now includes basic telephony features, voicemail and 50 minutes of long distance calling (previously, voicemail and LD were extra fees). A number of package options are available now for all seat types, including UC WiFi Mobility – Softphone, UC Fax (inbound) and Audio Conferencing, with additional cloud applications for Emergency Conferencing, Desktop Collaboration and Mass Notification coming soon.
- New Phones: Two new phone models, the desi-less (self-labeling) NEC DT820 6-button and 8-button phones (with licenses for 16 or 24 keys), are now available and replace the earlier DT700 series which has reached end-of-life status. The DT820 phones are also compatible with NEC’s premises-based UNIVERGE SV9000 systems which helps protect customer investments should they migrate from the SV9000 to the UNIVERGE BLUE cloud service. UNIVERGE BLUE customers can also select SIP phones from Polycom, and support for NEC’s UT800 next-generation desktop phone is coming soon (see below).
- International Coverage: In addition to the U.S., NEC now offers UNIVERGE BLUE in the Canadian market. European coverage is planned.
- Video: NEC has a new partnership with video communication and collaboration solution provider Vidyo. NEC channel partners will be able to offer NEC-branded room, desk and mobile video collaboration solutions, either on-premises or in the cloud. We can expect some forward-looking solutions as NEC integrates the Vidyo technology with its own solutions to create new vertical applications for healthcare, hospitality, education, financial and other industries. For example, NEC is looking to combine Vidyo technology with its biometrics solutions to provide a second level of authentication in point-of-sale scenarios and at ATM machines, or for time and attendance verification in distance learning applications, among other use cases.
- “All Glass” Endpoint: NEC’s next generation UT880 desktop telephone will be available soon for UNIVERGE BLUE customers (this model is already available with NEC UNIVERGE SV9000 communication servers). UT880 combines a traditional desktop phone and an Android tablet into one device designed to enable easy access to NEC’s UC Suite Client with a corporate directory, presence, instant messaging unified messaging and call control. Integrated video cameras enable two-way video conferencing, allowing virtual receptionists, for example, to greet visitors through the display from a remote location. NEC and its partners are actively developing applications that run on the phone, including some unique, converged applications such as incorporating NEC’s biometrics solutions (facial recognition) for security purposes or for recognizing priority guests in a retail or hospitality environment.
- Expanded Services: Look for UNIVERGE BLUE to expand its menu of services to include a wider array of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, more subscription packages tailored for specific verticals and micro-verticals, and improved versatility with “hybrid” public and private cloud deployments.
Businesses are increasingly evaluating the cloud alternative for their communications needs, and NEC is actively helping its customers with this migration by promoting hybrid cloud deployments, speeding up the provisioning process and minimizing set up fees and other non-recurring costs. In addition, NEC’s expertise across such a broad spectrum of technologies (including UC&C and IT) make for some really unique integrations and innovations. This, along with some strategic partnerships, puts NEC in a good position to address the challenges and requirements of businesses into the future. Stay tuned.
The New Office Desk Phone
The office desk phone is not obsolete – not yet. Though market statistics continue to show the steady decline in TDM (analog and digital) desk telephone shipments, IP desktop phones seem to be holding their own for now. According to the Q2 2016 statistics from market research firm MZA Telecom & IT Analysts, IP extensions/licenses grew a modest 4% year-over-year, while TDM extensions fell by 8%.
Business communications vendors are closely monitoring the market and the growing preference for softphones and mobile devices; and thus, directing more of their research and development dollars into software and applications. But, at the same time, there is general agreement that hard-wired endpoints still have the advantage over a mobile device when it comes to high quality audio, recording and speakerphone capabilities and remain an important requirement in today’s conference rooms and during critical business conversations.
The dilemma – or downside - for users is that while the office desk phone excels at audio quality, it typically lacks the convenience, intuitiveness and ease-of-use of a mobile smartphone which has become our preferred device for quick and easy management of communications. The solution? Combine the best of the mobile smartphone experience with the high quality audio of an office telephone, creating a more contemporary desktop device. And, a number of business communications manufacturers are doing just that – developing and rolling out “next-generation” IP-based and SIP-based phones that better meet today’s expectations.
Here are some of the latest market entries:
Allworx introduces the new Verge IP phone series designed for business users with a more mobile work style. This next-generation phone family includes two desktop telephones with color displays, the 12-button 9312 and the 8-button 9308, along with an optional 18-button expansion unit, the 9318Ex. The phones work in concert with Allworx’s unified communications client applications to pair the desktop phone with the user’s mobile devices and/or a PC. This enables real-time sharing of contacts between a mobile device and the Verge IP phone (via the Allworx Reach mobile application) and between Microsoft Outlook and the Verge IP phone (via the Interact Professional application for PC-based call management). Other mobility features include instant hand-off of calls between a mobile device and Verge, as well as remote control of the Verge desk phone using a mobile device. The more advanced Verge 9312 also supports Bluetooth integration for making and receiving cellular calls on the Verge IP phone.
Compatibility and Pricing: The Allworx Verge IP phones will be orderable in early February 2017 and are compatible with the company’s premises-based Allworx Connect platform with System Software version 8.2. Allworx Reach version 3.0 (for iOS and Android) and Allworx Interact Professional version 3.0 are also required to support the real-time contact sharing features. MSRP is for $359 for Verge 9312 and $299 for Verge 9308.
Avaya Vantage is a new “all glass” desktop endpoint designed to function like a mobile device with a large (8-inch) capacitive touch-screen for access to business applications, phone features and contacts (no mechanical buttons). Vantage will run Avaya’s new Equinox client application and can embed Android-based business applications developed with Avaya’s Breeze Client SDK that are customized to suit particular industry verticals such as healthcare, hospitality or retail, or personalized according to specialized business or user requirements. (Avaya recently introduced Equinox as a single client app for desktop and mobile devices to replace multiple earlier client offers - Communicator, Flare, OneX and Scopia). Vantage will also support multimedia conferencing via an integrated video camera as Avaya Aura Conferencing (AAC) and the Scopia video conferencing solution merge to become part of the Equinox software. General availability for developers is planned for January 2017, with availability for customers deploying Equinox for Vantage expected in March 2017.
Compatibility and Pricing: Vantage will initially be compatible with the premises-based Avaya Aura 7 platform; cloud support is planned for the first half of 2017. Compatibility with Avaya IP Office 11.0 is also planned. List pricing is $449 with the integrated camera ($429 without a camera); options for cordless or corded handset kits are priced separately.
ESI’s new ePhone7 is a “contact-centric” device (no physical buttons) designed for managers, executives and operators. Contacts are organized and displayed on a large 7-inch color touchscreen in four categories - Personal, Coworkers, Favorites and Groups - without any need to program speed dials or DSS keys. Personal contacts can be imported from a Google account, and Coworkers and Groups are automatically synchronized with the extensions and departments that are provisioned in the system. ePhone7 also integrates ESI’s eLocation feature that displays a contact’s presence status (on a call, do not disturb, available, etc.), but also whether a coworker is physically in the building (in the office or away). Common business calling features (transfer, hold, park, record, mute, etc.) are simple one-touch buttons as are call history, missed voicemails and easy access to dialing.
Compatibility and Pricing: The ePhone7 has been in beta with ESI’s eCloud PBX customers, with general availability expected soon. All eCloud PBX user seat plans include an ESI SIP phone (the ESI 30SIP or 45SIP) in the seat price, but as an option, customers with Select or Premier seats can upgrade to the more advanced ePhone7 for a one-time non-recurring fee of $150.
Mitel’s new MiVoice 6940 IP Phone is the advanced model in the company’s new “mobile-first” IP Phone series. Designed as a state-of-the-art IP Phone for busy executives with a mobile work style, the 6940 pairs the desktop phone with the user’s mobile device using Mitel’s MobileLink capability and an embedded Bluetooth interface to synchronize the contacts on both devices. Calls to the mobile phone can be answered on the 6940, and vice versa. There is support initially for Apple iOS and Android smartphones, with additional smartphones planned. Other notable features include a 7-inch color touch display, Mitel Hi-Q Audio technology, a speech-optimized cordless Bluetooth handset, 96 programmable personal keys and a built-in USB port that can be used to charge the mobile device. A WLAN adapter and color expansion module are optional.
Compatibility and Pricing: MiVoice 6940 uses Mitel’s IP MiNet protocol and is currently available for the premises-based MiVoice Business platform, with availability for MiCloud Business and MiCloud Enterprise expected shortly. Mitel has plans for a SIP version that will work on additional premises and cloud platforms in 2017. List pricing is US$550.
NEC’s next generation UT880 desktop telephone combines a traditional desktop phone and an Android tablet into one device designed to enable easy access to NEC’s UC Suite Client with a corporate directory, presence, instant messaging unified messaging and call control. The UT880 has a 7-inch color touch-screen, an integrated Bluetooth capability, a built-in camera, a USB port along with an integrated video camera that enables two-way video conferencing. Virtual receptionists, for example, can greet visitors through the display from a remote location. NEC and its partners are actively developing business applications that run on the phone, including some unique, converged applications such as incorporating NEC’s biometrics solutions (facial recognition) for security purposes or for recognizing priority guests in a retail or hospitality environment.
Compatibility and Pricing: The UT880 is available with NEC’s premises-based UNIVERGE SV9000 communication servers and UNIVERGE 3C software-based platforms and will be available soon for the UNIVERGE BLUE cloud-based telephony service. List pricing is $699 MSRP.
Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise and now part of European IT service company Atos) introduced a new SIP-based OpenScape Desk Phone CP (Communication Point) family in 2016, including two higher-end models (CP400 and CP600) for users with collaborative needs. These phones can interoperate with the company’s Circuit team collaboration application, making it possible for the desk phone user to participate as a team member in a Circuit conversation. (Circuit is Unify’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) collaboration platform that combines voice, video, screen sharing, messaging and file sharing into a single user interface; see the related write-up on team collaboration for more detail). Additionally, the phones deliver HD voice quality for calls and audio conferences and “swiveling” color graphic displays. The CP600 also has Bluetooth connectivity, Near Field Communication (NFC) for pairing the desk phone to a smartphone, and support for Eddystone Beacon technology (provided by Google) for exchanging information between desk phones and mobile devices.
Compatibility and Pricing: The CP family can be used with Unify’s OpenScape Voice platform, cloud or premises-based deployments. List pricing for the CP600 is €340 (about $360USD).
We can expect to see additional next-gen business phones in the coming year. Stay tuned.
Toshiba IPedge Adds a Software-only Option, Collaboration and Scale
Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division has again released new software for its IPedge business communications solution designed for small and mid-size businesses and smaller enterprises, addressing some of today’s key business challenges such as finding ways to achieve capital and operational savings and better collaboration among a distributed workforce. The latest Release 1.7.3 introduces a new software-only (virtualized) deployment option and adds web collaboration as another capability built into IPedge. The new software also benefits multi-site businesses with a significant increase in the number of systems that can be tied together into a single, unified network.
Toshiba first launched IPedge in 2011 as a single server IP communications system and an alternative to the company’s earlier Strata CIX converged IP/digital telephony platform. IPedge software runs multiple applications on one server for cost savings, reduced maintenance and easier management. The embedded applications, which initially included call processing, unified messaging, unified communications, mobility and centralized administration, have since expanded to also include call accounting, meet-me audio conferencing and web collaboration. In 2015, Toshiba introduced a virtualized software version that allows IPedge to co-reside with Toshiba’s contact center and reporting software on a single Toshiba-provided server running VMware vSphere technology for additional hardware and computing resource efficiencies.
Moreover, Toshiba’s IPedge software is the base software for its VIPedge cloud telephony service that was introduced in 2012. Any new IPedge software developments effectively “kill two birds with one stone” since the improvements will benefit both deployment types (premises and cloud – or a hybrid of the two).
The latest R1.7.3 software is one of three major releases in just the past year (another software release is expected in the next month or so). In December 2015, IPedge R1.7 software introduced an upgraded Linux operating system, advanced security software and free system trial licenses of some key applications. IPedge R1.7.1 in March of 2016 embedded two additional applications, Meet-me Audio Conference and Call Accounting. With the latest R1.7.3 software, Toshiba adds a software-only alternative, built-in Web collaboration and increased network scale. See below for more detail on the latest enhancements.
- Software-only Option: As an alternative to the earlier Toshiba’s IPedge Virtual Server which is pre-installed on a Toshiba-provided server running VMware, IPedge software can now be installed on any customer-provided VMware-certified hardware, such as from Dell or HP, per specifications for memory, CPU and disk space. This new deployment option gives IT-centric organizations and data centers that utilize virtualization technology the ability to use existing hardware or select the hardware that best fits their particular environment.
- Embedded Web Conferencing: The built-in IPedge Meet-me Audio Conference application (added with R1.7.1 software last March) is extended to include desktop and application sharing. The new IPedge Meet-me Web Conference capability and Scheduler uses WebRTC-based technology to quickly set up on-demand or scheduled conferences. Toshiba includes four audio channel licenses for free, with additional channels easily license-activated. Web conferencing requires the Google Chrome browser and Toshiba Web Conference Screen sharing plug-in.
- Increased Network Scale: Toshiba has quadrupled the number of IPedge servers and Strata CIX systems in a network from 128 systems to now 512 systems. This benefits larger, multi-site organizations looking to expand capacity or tie dispersed locations into one company-wide network.
In addition to three major software releases for Toshiba’s IPedge system in under a year (with yet another software release expected very soon), the company has rolled out other major product enhancements and new offers throughout 2016, including significant updates to its UCedge unified communications client software for mobile and desktop devices that include a new UCedge Essentials mode (free to all users) and features for contact center agents and supervisors.
The company also introduced Clarify call recording that includes recording calls from a smartphone running Toshiba’s UCedge software, and native Salesforce.com integration that integrates with IPedge to enable call-related activities, such as click-to-call and screen pops based on Caller ID, from within the Salesforce interface.
Toshiba hints that other significant enhancements and new products are in the works and coming in early 2017, including a new entry-level server, investments in geo-redundancy and survivability for the VIPedge cloud telephony service, additional cloud-based applications and new pricing models. Stay tuned.
In recent news:
8x8 makes enhancements to its international channel program as partners and their business customers transition from traditional on-premises solutions to cloud. The revamped 8x8 Channel 2.0 program introduces a self-service partner portal for easy access to all resources, including online product and sales training, marketing campaigns and collateral, product and company updates (available in North America, Canada, Australia and the UK). New trainings and certifications are available, and the 8x8 Academy opens in January 2017 with a selection of live, virtual, instructor-led classes. New sales enablement tools equip partners with online customer ROI tools, co-branded marketing materials and campaigns, battle cards, videos, case studies and more. In other news, 8x8 was awarded four new U.S. patents related to conferencing, call control and contact center (now holds 125 patents in total).
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise introduces the new OmniPCX Office (OXO) Connect R2 communications server as the next-generation and going-forward replacement for its OmniPCX Office RCE communication server for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). The new OXO Connect R2 provides telephony and unified communications as before, but also adds support for the company’s Rainbow UC cloud services that include contact management, instant messaging, presence, persistent messaging, audio/video, screen sharing and other cloud-based business services. Initially, OXO Connect R2 will enable access to Rainbow “Essential” features, with access to the full range of Rainbow cloud services expected in April 2017. OXO Connect R2 can also handle a higher user capacity (to 300 users) compared to the earlier OXO RCE communication server. In addition, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise introduces a simplified licensing model for SMBs with software assurance guarantee for three years of support, a new low-cost Wi-Fi solution (OmniAccess WLAN AP-1101) and new tools for channel partners to remotely manage customer networks.
AltiGen introduces the new AltiGen UC Cloud managed service that integrates the company’s MaxACD Cloud Contact Center with Microsoft’s Hosted Skype for Business and delivers this as a fully managed service. The new offer is in response business customers seeking a cloud-based PBX and UC solution that also enables business-critical features like advanced auto attendant along with intelligent routing and queuing capabilities. AltiGen’s MaxACD all-software contact center is specifically designed for Microsoft’s Skype for Business which can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud. Currently, AltiGen UC Cloud is available in the United States with future plans for the UK and Europe.
Avaya made a series of announcements of late, including Vantage, a new “all glass” desktop endpoint designed to function like a mobile device with a large (8-inch) capacitive touch-screen for access to business applications, phone features and contacts (no mechanical buttons). Vantage will run Avaya’s new Equinox client application and can embed Android-based business applications developed with Avaya’s Breeze Client SDK that are customized to suit particular industry verticals such as healthcare, hospitality or retail, or personalized according to specialized business or user requirements. General availability for developers is planned for January 2017, with availability for customers deploying Equinox for Vantage expected in March 2017 (read more on Vantage and other next-gen desk phones here). In other news, Avaya has renamed and re-launched its Channel Program as Avaya Edge (was called Avaya Connect) as the company shifts focus from hardware to software and services. Avaya Edge includes six tracks: Cloud, SMB, Enterprise, Systems Integrator/Service Provider, Distributor, and Direct Market Reseller.
BlueJeans launches BlueJeans for Facebook Live for broadcasting large scale, interactive video events. The new offer includes BlueJeans’ PrimeTime video conferencing service for large interactive video events (up to 100 presenters and 5,000 attendees) and makes these events viewable over Facebook Live. The company cites the promotional possibilities when announcing a new brand or product, for example, in terms of viewership and likely proliferation of the event (during and after) via the social network. A free 30 day trial is available with “white glove assistance” to ensure the event’s success. In other news, BlueJeans is partnering with Arkadin for a complete all-in-one collaboration solution that integrates Arkadin’s audio conferencing into BlueJeans’ video conferencing offering; “BlueJeans provided by Arkadin” can bring together up to 100 attendees in a meeting.
BroadSoft introduces a new integrated portfolio of cloud-based services called BroadSoft Business that includes three of the company’s core applications: UC-One (telephony and unified communications), Team-One (team collaboration) and CC-One (contact center), with the BroadSoft Hub cloud aggregation service providing contextual intelligence across the entire platform. Incidently, BroadSoft’s CC-One cloud-based, omni-channel (voice, email, chat and social) contact center solution is just recently introduced and includes dynamic, intelligent analytics that matches the customer with the best agent (technology from the Transera acquisition). Team-One is the new branding for Intellinote’s virtual workspace for teams acquired by BroadSoft last May. BroadSoft has also released two new UC-One applications that are optimized for the mobile user: UC-One Connect (workplace collaboration) and UC-One Meet (one-touch join). In other news, BroadSoft has acquired VoIP Logic, a wholesale provider of BroadWorks-based cloud communications services in the US; this adds a cloud wholesale model to the BroadSoft BroadCloud portfolio.
Cisco has made a series of announcements of late, including three related to Cisco Spark: Cisco Spark Flex Plan (subscription pricing for cloud, on-premises or hybrid deployments), Cisco Spark Depot (an online catalog of Cisco and non-Cisco business applications and bots) and Cisco Spark Hybrid Media Service (delivers the cloud-based Spark Meeting service as a local instance on the customer’s premises). See the related write-up for more detail. Cisco is also expanding its Business Edition portfolio with the new BE4000 for SMBs (under 200 users). The new platform will be deployed on-premises, but managed in the cloud; first customer shipment is set for January 2017 in the U.S. with GA in other countries expected in the first half of 2017 (BE4000 will replace the earlier BE6000S). In other news, Cisco has acquired online meeting software vendor Worklife (Heroik Labs, Inc.) to complement its collaboration strategy, seeing opportunities for integrations with Cisco Spark. Cisco and Salesforce are jointly developing solutions that combine Cisco’s collaboration, IoT and contact center platforms with Salesforce Sales Cloud, IoT Cloud and Service Cloud; these innovations are expected in 2H2017.
CoreDial has launched a new Partner Success Program to provide sales, marketing and training tools to channel partners as they help their customers transition from legacy phone systems to cloud-based services. The program recognizes top-performing partners with annual awards and quarterly incentives that are based on each partner’s MRR (monthly recurring revenue) measured in terms of dollar growth and total percentage growth. CoreDial offers its cloud services, including hosted PBX solutions, VoIP, SIP Trunking and Unified Communication services, to Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Interconnects and Carriers in the U.S. through a private label program. Currently, CoreDial has over 500 channel partners that provide cloud communications to more than 20,000 small to mid-sized U.S. businesses.
CounterPath announces general availability of the new Bria X team messaging, presence and screen share subscription service that can overlay a wide range of SIP-based hosted or premises-based call servers such as from Avaya, Asterisk, BroadSoft, Cisco, FreeSWITCH, Metaswitch, Panasonic and many others. The integrated desktop screen share capability supports 100 participants per session and requires only a web browser to join (no downloads or plugins). Users can access the Bria X app on up to three devices, including Windows and Mac desktops, and iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. CounterPath’s Stretto Web Platform automatically provisions and configures all endpoints from the cloud. Bria X is $3.00 per month per user for an annual subscription.
Enghouse Interactive introduces a new attendant and operator console solution designed specifically for Microsoft’s Skype for Business Cloud PBX which is part of the Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise Suite E5 subscription. The Attendant Console for Skype for Business has a “gamification” approach to call handling that aims to improve operator productivity. Inbound calls change color based on service levels and are stacked as easy-to-view call tiles. The interactive interface also displays animated sequences that tell the operator the status of the call, and directory searches display user presence via their Skype for Business desktop, calendar and phone state. Operators can also utilize instant messaging and email to reach others on the system. Add-ons include a hospitality package, supervisory management and reporting, a wallboard and multi-site support. In other news, Enghouse has introduced a cloud-based multi-channel outbound notification solution for Service Providers (can also opt for an on-premises or hybrid solution tailored to specific use cases).
Estech Systems Inc. (ESI) introduces the ePhone7 desktop telephone, a new “contact-centric” device (no physical buttons) designed for managers, executives and operators. Contacts are organized and displayed on a large 7-inch color touchscreen in four categories - Personal, Coworkers, Favorites and Groups - without any need to program speed dials or DSS keys. The ePhone7 has been in beta with ESI’s eCloud PBX customers; general availability is expected soon. Additionally, the eCloud PBX user packages have been restructured into five plans (up from three with the initial launch), including a lower cost metered offering for users with more moderate phone usage. Read more on the ePhone7 and what’s new for ESI’s eCloud PBX here.
Facebook announces the official availability of its Workplace enterprise collaboration tool, following beta testing with 450 businesses and internal use by Facebook’s own employees. Workplace (formerly referred to as Facebook at Work) is a work-oriented version of the company’s online collaboration service. Business users have access to similar Facebook features like news feeds, groups and messaging, but only for internal company communications. Use cases include chatting with colleagues anywhere in the world in real time, hosting a virtual group meeting with video, or watching a company presentation on Facebook Live. There are also Workplace-only features such as a dashboard with analytics and Multi-company Groups that enables sharing between different organizations. The application keeps sharing at work separate from a personal profile so that user information is not accessible publically. Subscription pricing is competitive and based on active usage. A company will pay $3 for each of the first 1,000 active users, with additional users (up to 10,000) charged at $2 per user per month; beyond 10,000, each active user is $1 per month. The service is free for non-profits and educational institutions.
Fonality adds new features to its Heads Up Display (HUD) Web client, making improvements to the user experience with regard to transferring calls (unanswered queue calls and “warm transfer” that lets the recipient know who is calling and why), as well as downloading, saving and sharing voicemails and call recordings. Notifications of missed chats, calls or voicemails are easier to spot via the Fonality “favicon.” There is also a new file sharing solution that allows users to share files from their own computer or from popular file sharing solutions such as Box, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox via simple hovering, clicking or drag and drop. The company also improves Salesforce CRM integration with a redesigned user interface and new features for Persistent Notes, Multi-Line Call Handling and Actionable Call History to name a few.
Fuze announces a newly designed UX user interface that enables one user experience across all channels (voice, video, messaging) for both internal and external communications. The new unified client is the result of the company’s work to integrate the Fuze web and video conferencing services acquired in November 2015. (ThinkingPhones took on the corporate name “Fuze” in early 2016.) Fuze also announces a higher level of support services with the new Fuze Premier Care for medium to large enterprises. The new service includes a dedicated service manager, dedicated tech support, extended administration support and enhanced service levels for differing levels of severity. Premier Care also has an Extended Network Operations Center that proactivity monitors the network, including customer-provided or Fuze-provide networks and periodic failover testing, among other measures.
Grandstream Networks introduces the new GXP1700 series of mid-range IP phones. The three new affordable models (GXP1760, GXP1780, GXP1782) differ in the number of supported lines, SIP accounts and digital BLF options, but all include wide-band HD audio, a large phonebook (up to 2000 contacts), a USB port for future add-ons, anti-theft protection and other more advanced features. GXP1782 comes with dual Gigabit ports. The new phone series is positioned in between Grandstream’s GXP16xx series of basic IP phones and the GXP21xx higher-end IP phones. List prices are competitive at $79 USD (GXP1760), $85 USD (GXP1780) and $89 USD (GXP1782).
inContact announces Customer Interaction Cloud V16.3, a major release that includes new analytics based on Attensity and Nexidia technology, a new integrated benchmarking tool and new features within two workforce optimization (WFO) suites, inContact Workforce Optimization and NICE Workforce Optimization. Nice just announced the completion of the inContact acquisition; the two market leaders are working to integrate inContact’s cloud-based contact center platform with Nice’s analytics-driven workforce optimization (WFO) cloud and on-premises enterprise software solutions.
LiveOps Cloud has renamed as Serenova and introduces a new tagline ‘Shine Bright’. In November 2015, LiveOps Cloud - now Serenova - became an independent CCaaS company, separating from its former parent company, LiveOps Inc. Serenova offers a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platform called CxEngage that builds on the company’s early innovations in the cloud contact center, but adds an open API framework and integration customer relationship management (CRM), workforce management (WFM) and business intelligence (BI) applications. CxEngage is a multi-tenant solution that runs in Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers located in various world regions, making the service available to multi-national contact centers that require geographic coverage.
MegaPath announces the new Call Center Premium service that builds on the company’s existing Call Center Pro bundle with expanded call queues (525 versus 50), more standard reports (20+ versus two) and more included features such as outbound calling, silent monitoring and call barge, customized reports and other features. MegaPath is also offering a free 15-day trial of MegaPath One UC&C features that includes the My Room group collaboration workspace where team members can communicate using multiple technologies such as multi-party chat, voice and video conferencing and content sharing – all accessed within a single user interface from a PC, smartphone, tablet or web browser. External team members simply join via any WebRTC-compatible web browser. MegaPath One leverages BroadSoft’s UC-One portfolio.
Microsoft enters the enterprise team collaboration space with the new Microsoft Teams chat-based workspace for Office 365. The application is built around four key concepts: Chat, Teamwork Hub (the Office suite - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, Power BI, and Delve - all built into Teams), Customizable (open APIs) and a Trusted Environment (encrypts data). Microsoft Teams (formerly referred to internally as Skype Teams) is currently in preview in 181 countries with commercial customers that subscribe to Office 365 Enterprise or Business plans; general availability is expected in the first quarter of 2017. In other news, Microsoft announced several Skype for Business innovations at the recent Ignite Conference, including an enhanced experience on iPhone using the AppleCallKit framework, next-generation Skype Room Systems (Logitech SmartDock will be first to market; additional SRS options are coming from Crestron and Polycom), and new previews for real-time transcription and translation in Skype Meeting Broadcast (live closed-captioning for presentations spoken in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese and German). Microsoft and Salesforce are extending their ongoing partnership to integrate more Office products with Salesforce CRM apps; a Salesforce Windows 10 mobile app is due out next year.
Mitel introduces three new 6900 Series IP phones initially compatible with premises-based MiVoice Business platform. Availability for MiCloud Business and MiCloud Enterprise expected shortly, and Mitel has plans for a SIP version that will work on additional premises and cloud platforms in 2017. The new phone portfolio includes three models (6920, 6930 and 6940) for heavy phone users and executives, each with mobile device integration via Mitel’s MobileLink technology that synchronizes a user’s mobile device with the office telephone. Read more here about the most advanced model 6940 with its 7-inch color touchscreen and speech-optimized cordless Bluetooth handset. In other news, Mitel introduces the World Cloud global networking solution for multi-national businesses, with free international extension-to-extension dialing, unlimited user-based country dialing, local in-bound phone numbers and extensions with local out-bound dialing; World Cloud is available in 40 countries initially (Mitel now has 14 data centers worldwide). Mitel also announces the MiCloud Edge network solution powered by SD-WAN technology from VeloCloud, offering improved performance and significant cost savings over a traditional WAN implementation. Read more here on the benefits of SD-WAN technology to the cloud UC experience.
NEC launches the ExpressCluster redundancy solution for the UNIVERGE UM8700 unified messaging application. ExpressCluster technology provides protection and recovery in LAN and WAN environments through synchronous data mirroring, automated failure detection and recovery, and other redundancy mechanisms. NEC is working with AVST on the development of the ExpressCluster solution for UM8700 and other products. In other news, NEC, Microsoft and Brierley+Partners are collaborating to develop and offer IoT solutions for the retail industry. The new solutions will leverage NEC’s facial recognition and video analytics technologies and Brierley+Partners’ data analytics software. Iintegrated solutions are hosted on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
RingCentral introduces RingCentral CloudConnect, a new option for enterprise customers that do not want to use the public Internet, but instead prefer a private, high quality interconnection for quality of service and network performance requirements. Enterprises using MPLS networking through a carrier (such as AT&T, Verizon or Level 3, for example) can purchase a circuit from this preferred carrier to one of 14 RingCentral data centers where RingCentral has established “meet me” or de-marcation points. CloudConnect is the connection between this de-marcation point and the RingCentral Cloud and is charged at $1,000 per connection per month for up to 200Mbps of bandwidth for a single connection (can have multiple connections and there are options for redundancy). Aside from MPLS, RingCentral can also support “custom” configurations such as direct Gigabit Ethernet connectivity or connectivity with SD-WAN networks. In other news, RingCentral announces new native Android and iOS client applications for its team messaging platform, RingCentral Glip, with some capabilities over and above the earlier Web browser-based mobile application such as reading PDFs and Microsoft Office documents directly in RingCentral Glip and swiping to mark a conversation as a “favorite.”
Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Telecommunication Systems Division releases new software for its IPedge business communications solution. The latest Release 1.7.3 introduces a software-only (virtualized) deployment option and adds web collaboration as another capability built into IPedge. Toshiba also quadruples the number of IPedge servers and Strata CIX systems in a network from 128 systems to now 512 systems. In related news, Toshiba announces a major update to its UCedge UC client application; R2.6 adds mobile access to call recording, a softphone trial license and improved group instant messaging. Read more here about what’s new and what’s next for Toshiba’s telephony and UC portfolio.
Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise and now part of the European IT service company Atos) announces OpenScape Business Pay As You Go for SMEs, a flexible monthly subscription payment model for both on-premises and cloud based solutions. Unify cites the many benefits of a simpler subscription-based payment model for customers (reduces upfront equipment investments, paying only for features required and easily adding the latest capabilities, built-in software support and more) and for partners (minimizes upfront product investments, recurring revenue stream, new opportunities to compete with public cloud providers and more). Unify also updates its OpenScape Enterprise Express all-in-one appliance for the mid-market; the new V9 increases scale to 5,000 users and 250 contact center agents, adds integrations with Microsoft Office 365 and more.
Verizon has developed the new One Talk service for mobile-centric small businesses in the U.S. with fewer than 100 users. The new service is touted as a native, mobile-first, one-number business telephony service since it runs over the nationwide Verizon 4G LTE Wireless network and essentially eliminates the need for subscribing to both a business phone service and a wireless service (one contract and one bill instead of two). One Talk subscribers will receive a Verizon wireless phone number that will support business calling features such as transfer, conference, hold and forward, as well as common business group functions like auto receptionists, hunt groups and line sharing. These business features will work over supported iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as over One Talk-capable desk phones (a Verizon development in concert with Yealink). Monthly pricing is based on the number of Verizon wireless phone numbers required. Customers purchase a corporate plan at $25 per number per month. Verizon is planning additional enterprise-level business features in 2017.
VTech Holdings Limited has completed the acquisition of business IP phone manufacturer Snom Technology AG of Germany. The companies cite synergies in development and sales and VTech’s presence in the Asia Pacific and North American regions as strengths of merger. The transaction was completed on November 21, 2016.
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