IP PBX maker to launch wireless phone

Zultys Technologies is expected to announce a wireless IP phone aimed at users of the company's SIP-based IP PBX and other gear based on the VoIP standard later this week.

The WIP 2 handset is an 802.11b-based IP telephone that features push-to-talk, instant messaging and other applications that could appeal to mobile workers in a campus or warehouse environment with widespread wireless LAN coverage, Zultys says.

"Customers have been asking for a wireless phone for over a year," says Zultys' CEO Iain Milnes. He says he expects Zultys users from the construction, medical and retail warehousing industries to adopt the Wi-Fi phone.

The phone uses a miniature, real-time version of Linux and can run such applications as IM, where messages are typed with the number pad, similar to cell phone text messaging. The device also supports presence, where users can register their availability on the network via the phone. A push-to-talk feature allowing instant connections between WIP 2 users is included. (These applications require Zultys' IP PBXs on the back end.)

The phone has two line appearances, allowing it to handle two incoming calls at once, as well as support for three-way conferencing. A speakerphone also is built in. The phone comes with a cradle that can be used to recharge the device, which provides up to four hours for continuous talk and 12 hours for standby time on a charge.

The phone supports 802.1p for packet prioritization, allowing WIP 2 VoIP traffic to gain priority over other data packet types once the signal hits the wired LAN. (However, the phone does not support any type of "in-the-air" QoS, where 802.11 radio signals are prioritized, as with Spectralink's proprietary IP phone and QoS gateway system.) The phone encrypts Real time Transport Protocol (RTP) streams with 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard security.

To secure the registration of WIP 2 phones, or to keep unauthorized WIP 2 phones off a network, users can set up a Zultys IP PBX to recognize only certain media access control (MAC) addresses on the devices. This access-list method can also be used for authenticating the phones against WLAN devices. The phone does not support 802.1x authentication.

The phone works with any of Zultys' MX series of IP PBXs, such as the 50-phone MX50, 250-phone MX250 for mid-size offices, and the 1,200-user MX1200, which can scale to multi-thousand seats via clustering. All of Zultys' IP PBXs are based on a hardened, real-time version of Linux and use SIP as the call setup and signaling protocol, and RTP for voice packet transport.

In addition to the Zultys systems, the WIP 2 phone will support basic calling features with any SIP-based call server such as the open source Asterisk IP PBX platform, or other pure SIP servers from such vendors as 3Com, Alcatel, Avaya, Mitel and Nortel.

Also offering Wi-Fi-enabled IP phones similar to Zultys' WIP 2 are Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, Nortel, Spectralink and Symbol.

Pricing for the WIP 2 phone is not set, but users should expect to pay about US$300 to US$400 for the device, which is the cost for Zultys' higher-end wired IP phones, according to Milnes. Australian pricing will be announced in September. The WIP 2 is in trials now with quantity shipments beginning in November.

The introduction of the WIP 2 follows a recent refresh of Zultys' line of wired SIP-based IP phones; the company introduced five models in March, including those featuring power over Ethernet and large LCD displays.

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