Allworx, a voice over IP (VoIP) and unified communications company, has launched its new Connect line of voice communications systems for small and midsized businesses (SMBs) that want to incorporate mobility into their calling environments without sacrificing call quality.
Don't let the smartphone's unstoppable takeover of the workplace fool you, says Chris Hasenauer, vice president and general manager of Allworx, also a division of IT and networking services provider Windstream. The humble desk phone isn't going anywhere.
Mobile phones have undoubtedly changed the game in terms of business communications. Practically everyone has an iPhone or any one of the myriad Android handsets, which let them take and make calls practically anywhere. That's all well and good—until wireless networks let them down, which inevitably happens despite splashy television ads that boast about fast and reliable mobile connections.
Mobile and VoiP: Together at Last
"From a call quality perspective, desk phones make really good calls," Hasenauer told Small Business Computing. Business employees whose jobs depend on picking up every syllable, inflection or exasperated sigh—sales associates and customer service representatives, for example—prize voice quality above all else.
Dedicated and optimized hardware deliver better voice quality and call-handling features than do PCs and other devices where "soft phones" compete with other apps for computing resources. It also helps that the company provides "the best SIP handset out there" based on the company's own intellectual property, said Allworx chief technology officer, David Plakosh.
To link those SIP handsets and to provide enhanced call management and mobile-accessible call features, the company has released its new Allworx Connect VoIP hardware platform and System Software 8.0.
Allworx Connect VoIP hardware platform and System Software 8.0.
"Connect was designed from the ground up to be on the LAN [local area network]," said Hasenauer, referencing the hardware's ease of deployment, configuration and management, as well as its knack for integrating well with an SMB's existing network. Other features of the custom-built solution include improved processing, speedy solid-state storage and gigabit Ethernet (GbE) support.
In total, five new models make up the Connect line of VoIP appliances: the 320, 324, 530, 536 and 731. The Connect 320 supports up to 20 users and features two GbE ports, while the 324 adds four FXO (Foreign Exchange Office) ports. The 530 and 536 each support up to 50 users with three GbE ports, with the addition of six FXO ports on the 536. Finally, the Allworx Connect 731 includes three GbE ports, two FXO ports and one T1 port to support up to 180 users.
Naturally, a major piece of Allworx's mobile-enabled voice calling platform is its underlying software. The upgraded System Software 8.0 features Reach Link, which works with the Allworx Reach app (available for both Android and iOS mobile devices), enabling it to hand off active voice calls from cellular networks to Wi-Fi, and vice versa.
Do you worry about network degradation issues? No problem, says Plakosh. The software includes a "one-touch mechanism to manage that call so that it goes over the traditional voice network and transfers it to a desk phone," providing the best possible voice connection.
Allworx System Software 8.0 also supports codecs (G.711u, G.711a and G.729A) for improved network efficiency. HTTPS encryption ensures that administrators working with the Allworx dashboard, and employees using the My Allworx Manager call management interface, have a secure connection to their tools.
Finally, Allworx Migrate allows existing customers to upgrade to a Connect system. By connecting the old and new systems to a PC, the software completes the transition in a guided manner, transferring their setup without having to start over from scratch.
Allworx Connect 731 is scheduled to go on sale in late March, joined by the 320, 324, 530, 536 in late April. Contact your Allworx Authorized Distributors for pricing.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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