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Mitel has announced Release 5 of its 3300 Integrated Communications Platform IP PBX, advancing on a published roadmap aimed at higher scale, increased SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) compliance, network management, security and remote-site survivability.

“Mitel clearly wants to break out of its traditional, midsize niche to increase its addressable market,” said Ronald Gruia, a Toronto-based telecom analyst with Frost & Sullivan. Customer wins of the past year–including the French retailer Auchand and CompUSA–give the vendor claims on this segment, he said.

Release 5.0 of Mitel Networks Corp.’s IP PBX ups the platform’s scale from 30,000 to 65,000 users, and takes its maximum distributed network from 60 to 250 separate 3300 servers, which can be small enough to serve small branch offices or retail stores. These nodes include their own gateway for local PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) access, and perform switching for on-prem extensions. They also can run Mitel’s suite of contact center and presence-enabled tools.

A less expensive option for branch offices is a newly announced 3300 Gateway, aimed at sites whose switching is performed elsewhere, at the central server. Although the gateway will not ordinarily perform on-site call control, it will do so in failover mode, in addition to providing pooled access to–and local-number access from—the PSTN. Starting price, for six to eight phones, is $2,000.

Mitel is also addressing economy in adding SIP compliance to two of its IP phones. The Mitel 5215 and 5220 run Mitel’s proprietary MiNET protocol for operation with the ICP 330 but also will run SIP, allowing users to point them at such SIP-based PBXes as Asterisk’s or Snom’s, or to another SIP proxy server.

A previously released extension, the 5207, runs MiNet packets only but has been upgraded to function more like a key system phone, with more buttons; these let office workers pick up any visible incoming line from the same desktop.

The 5215 will retail for about $235, the 5220 for $310, and the 5207–with only half-duplex speaker phone capability–for $199, according to Kevin Johnson, Mitel’s director of product marketing. The ICP 3300 is due to be SIPified some time next year.

For soho or very small offices, Mitel is also offering a line interface gateway module that plugs directly into IP phones. This would let teleworkers fall back to PSTN connectivity for WAN failure or 911 calls, and is invoked by selecting the line with one key press.

And just as Mitel is making IP phones that can work with other IP PBXes, it is allowing its ICP 3300 to work–at least wirelessly—with phones of other makes.

Following Symbol Technologies Inc.’s exit from the handset market, Release 5.0 replaces it with support for SpectraLink Corp.’s 802.11 wireless phone. It also supports the European DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephone) standard for wireless phones, announcing compatibility with DECT phones from German manufacturer DeTeWe AG & Co.

According to Gruia, DECT technology is fated to be equaled in price and replaced by 802.11, but it still shows legs in the European market, where it was part of Mitel’s deployment deal with Auchan.

Next Page: Hot desking, encryption and voice mail with e-mail.

A new enterprise management suite is also part of release 5, providing graphical topology views of the network, inventory details, network health monitoring and voice quality assessment. Enterprise Manager will replace the previous Ops Manager, which was limited to monitoring only Mitel ICP and SX PBXes; the new suite monitors Mitel adjunct application servers as well.

The suite also will accept plug-ins from other vendors, including Viola Networks Inc.’s NetAlly, for additional monitoring and voice quality assessment. Entry-level pricing for Mitel Enterprise Manager is roughly $5,000, Johnson said.

Release 5 has also added hot desking: the ability to log into any IP phone and have it download all of one’s contacts and user preferences. It has added to its Q.SIG support, the standard used by PBX makers to interoperate at a base level of features. The enhancement adds the ability to automatically redial busy numbers as soon as they are free, or redial unanswered numbers as soon as the system detects activity and a hang-up on that line.

And among the new security features is triple-DES encryption for calls traversing the public Internet. AES encryption is slated for an upcoming release. “We’ve continued to harden against denial-of-service and intrusion attacks and virus protection,” Johnson said. “We’re based on the VxWorks operating system, which has upgraded its OS to ward off direct attacks, and we’re keeping it as well as our call-control software up to date for that.”

Finally, Mitel has sweetened its offer by including a basic level of unified messaging. The included UM will present voice mails within e-mail inboxes and will be enabled via mailbox license. It also will run music-on-hold, multilevel auto attendant (as in, connecting calls to departments and then employees within departments), and forwarding incoming calls to off-site phones or mobile phones.

On the higher UM end, Mitel has an OEM relationship with Esna Technologies Inc.,and it markets its full-featured messaging system as Mitel Messenging Server 6510.

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