Advancements in Business IP Phones

By Stan Baldwin
Updated: February 03, 2011

The quality and reliability of communications remain the top priorities for any IP phone system, especially when the system supports a business. The top internet service providers and IP phone manufacturers have evolved their offerings to the point talking to whoever we want whenever we want is no longer a notable concern.

For the past several years the developments in IP phones have addressed increased flexibility and convenience.

Flexibility is extended by incorporating a greater range of protocols, various versions of hybrid devices and phones built with features important to specific organizations.

Convenience improvements are delivered through a plethora of features. One manufacturer boasts of “hundreds of features” through which productive and the business bottom line will be “enhanced”. For many of us, learning how to use even a couple dozen of those new features could, at least initially, have a significant negative impact on our productivity.

Recent Hardware Advancements

  1. More phones with Color Displays.
  2. Tougher Hardware designed to handle dirt, dust, and moisture.
  3. Hybrids with VoIP and PSTN or VoIP and ISDN.
  4. Dedicated (fixed) Keys for many frequently used functions.

The software people have also been indulging their propensity for product differentiation. Most business phone sets offer what are now considered basic features including: Call Transfer, Conference Calling, ReDial, Speakerphone, Messages, Hold, Mute, Volume Adjustment, and Caller ID.

Other Available Tools

  1. Unique Ring Tones can identify special callers.
  2. A “Black List” diverts calls from people you'd rather not talk to.
  3. Address Books with room for the numbers of up to 1,000 close friends.
  4. Various aspects of “Presence”, such as availability and multi-line ringing help match your phone system to your life style.
  5. Two Lines with the same number is handy if someone else needs to make a call while you're on the phone.
  6. “Voice mail to E-mail”, and the related “voice mail to text” allows you the choice of listening to or reading your messages.
  7. Multiple Answering Machines with capacity for extended messages means you can sort messages by call type (assign incoming numbers) and the callers are unlikely to be cut off mid-sentence..
  8. Encrypted conversations, when privacy is important.

Business IP phones are offering more equipment supporting the untethered preferences of today's management and staff. With a headset plugged into the 2.5 mm jack of a wireless IP phone the user is free to wander about the office, flip through a file for last month's sales figures or brew a cup of tea. Besides 2.4 gHz systems, new phones offer Bluetooth connection to the deskset. IP phone systems in conjunction with Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) offer many of the above features within an office building or warehouse.

Despite the proliferation of features and increased interoperability, the basic communication quality and reliability delivered by IP phones will remain the paramount concerns., and both will continue to improve in the years ahead.

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