Lucent Brings IP Telephony to Small Enterprises

Lucent Technologies Inc. released the company's first IP-based PBX, which is geared to smaller enterprises looking to add voice over IP capabilities.

Dubbed IP ExchangeComm (IPEC), the Internet telephony system removes the need to have corporate-call facilities situated close to PBXs, according to Lucent's vice president of Internet Business Systems Brian Allain.

Specifically, the software-based IPEC moves voice, data, and faxes over local-or wide-area networks. IPEC's call manager resides on a Windows NT server and is designed for use at businesses with as many as 96 phone or fax units.

Using Mantra, software developed by Bell Labs, IPEC distributes media -- specifically, call, data or fax -- switching and processing across a corporate network. IPEC also allows users to provision services and complete diagnostics through a Web-based graphical interface.

An add-on IPEC IP telephony gateway card allows users to connect with non-IP-based phones over a public-switched telephone network. IPEC also can be integrated with Lucent's IP ExchangeAdapter product, which pulls non-IP phones or faxes into IP clients.

IPEC supports standards such as H.323 multimedia networking standard and an open API so developers can customize the system in Java.

Lucent's Allain said the company plans to lean heavily on outside software vendors to develop applications to run on IPEC. And Lucent recently announced charter members of the company's new IP Exchange Systems Development Partner Program.

Program partners will build applications that can be scaled to enterprises of various sizes, said Allain.

"In the new world of CTI [computer telephony integration], the architectures will transcend the current applications," said Allain at a recent CTI conference in Las Vegas. "And we believe the customization is going to have to reside in the channel, because our channel partners are closest to the customer," he added.

Tapestry Integration Specialists, Mind CTI, Web Ex and SoundLogic have so far joined the IP Exchange program.

Allain signaled that Lucent in the second quarter of 2000 would introduce follow on IP ExchangeComm products.

Lucent Technologies Inc., in Murray Hill, New Jersey, can be reached at http://www.lucent.com.

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