Cisco Systems is offering a new mobile telephone for use with its IP Communications systems and Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) technology, the company said Monday.
The Cisco Wireless IP Phone 7920 connects to an organization's IP network through wireless access points using the common 802.11b wireless communications protocol and is being marketed for organizations with mobile workforces such as hospitals, retailers and universities, Cisco said.
With the announcement, Cisco threw its hat in with a handful of other companies that are pioneering the development of mobile phones that rely on wireless LANs (WLANs) rather than traditional cellular networks to communicate.
Also on Monday, SpectraLink, in
Like the Cisco 7920, the SpectraLink phones use the 802.11b protocol to connect to WLANs and access Voice over IP (VoIP) networks or circuit-switched PBX (private branch exchange) interfaces, according to SpectraLink.
In addition, mobile computing device maker Symbol Technologies Inc. has sold a number of wireless handsets under its NetVision brand since 1999, including a wireless handset and a combination bar code scanner and handset. The Symbol phones interoperate with other telephony gateways including those by Mitel Networks and Nortel Networks, in addition to Cisco.
With this product, Cisco was not aiming for a phone that worked across many different vendors' networks, said Troy Trenchard, director of product marketing in Cisco's IP Communications business unit.
"Our goal is to design a phone that works better than any other wireless phone in a Cisco network," Trenchard said. Down the road, the SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standard should provide for interoperability among IP telephony systems, he added.
In addition, the 7920 can communicate over any standard 802.11b network, but the key to its delivering good voice quality is the intelligence Cisco has built into its own WLAN equipment, he said.
While VoIP networks have been gaining in popularity among organizations looking to simplify voice and data management, applications are limited for VoIP handsets that rely on WLANs.
Cisco's announcement of the 7920 emphasized its utility in environments "with reliable access to Cisco IP Communications systems" such as warehouses and corporate campuses of companies with global operations.
However, the wireless IP phones that have come to market so far cannot communicate with cellular phone networks and do not operate beyond the reach of the corporate WLAN, making them a tough sell for professionals who want one phone that can be used within the office and when traveling.