Mitel scales up its IP PBX

Mitel Networks last week upgraded its 3300 Integrated Communications Platform IP PBX. Greater scale, Wi-Fi VoIP support, SIP phone support and enhanced messaging and remote office survivability are among the new features on tap.

Version 5.0 of the Mitel 3300 ICP can now support up to 65,000 IP endpoints on a single system, up from 40,000 on previous 3300 series. The box can now support up to 700 Spectralink Corp. Wi-Fi IP phones as well, allowing Spectralink handset users to access all features on the 3300, including messaging applications. A Spectralink gateway and standards-based 802.11 access points are required for such a deployment.

The 3300 ICP upgrade also includes support for two new Mitel SIP-based IP phones - the Mitel 5212 and 5220 IP phones. The handsets can run either Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) or Mitel's proprietary MiNet protocol; this allows them to work on either a Mitel ICP or third-party SIP-based call server or messaging server.

The new IP phones can also be deployed in remote offices that are tied back to a 3300 ICP by a VPN connection or private IP WAN link. This lets the phones operate as extensions off of a 3300 ICP remotely. A new Line Interface Module for the phones lets the devices fail over to a public phone network connection in case of a VPN or IP network failure.

As for messaging, version 5.0 of the 3300 ICP now supports a personal auto attendant for individual end users' voicemail boxes. The feature lets end users set up separate call routing messaging options and recorded announcements for handling calls sent to voicemail.

While Mitel lags behind larger rivals 3Com, Alcatel, Avaya, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and Siemens in the large-enterprise IP PBX market, it has been among the leaders in introducing new technology, such as the option for running SIP as the native call control protocol on its IP PBXs, including the 3300 and SX-200 ICP for small offices (200 users). Mitel has also partnered with Hewlett-Packard's ProCurve switching business, as well as Foundry Networks Inc., for integrating Mitel's IP PBX gear with LAN switch equipment.

Mitel has also carved a niche for itself in the hybrid IP PBX market, where devices support both TDM and IP endpoints. (Some Mitel IP PBXs can support Mitel TDM phones, as well as some third-party TDM handsets, such as Nortel). According to Infonetics, Mitel had 16 percent of this market in the second quarter of 2004, behind market leaders Nortel with 29 percent and Alcatel with 25 percent of a market estimated at US$89 million for the quarter.

Pricing information for the 5.0 upgrade was not released, but the previous 3300 ICP cost around US$600 per seat, including IP phone hardware and software licenses.

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