Cisco reinforced its own ideas on voice data traffic integration last week, in response to the voice data deal forged by Nortel Networks with Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Intel (see PC Week, 16 March and this issue p23).
"It's a me-too strategy," pronounced Peter Alexander, vice president of enterprise business at Cisco.
Cisco's acquisition of Selsius last year gave it several LAN PBX products which the company is gradually incorporating into its portfolio, he claimed.
But analysts said there are still problems with LAN-based telephony that the industry needs to work out.
Neil Rickard, senior networking analyst at the Gartner Group research firm, explained: "The powering of new phones needs to be addressed. When you plug a phone into Ethernet where do you get the power from?"
Cisco said it is working on developing direct current for future generations of hardware that ensures constant telephony and believes this will be available by the end of the year.
"The large PBX vendors are reacting very defensively towards IP LAN telephony and with due reason," said Rickard.
"They don't want to risk the enormous revenue stream generated from traditional voice switches. So they are reacting to Cisco feature by feature. Rather than putting a fully functional PBX into a LAN box, Nortel is stripping its PBX products down for smaller sites which is an entirely defensive strategy."
In the opposite corner Cisco has the reverse problem as it must now work on scaling its IP telephony technology up. "The race is on," said Rickard.
"The question for IP telephony is no longer if but when."
He added that Cisco also has some channel issues with its Selsius products as its current channel is not suitable. "Clearly, Alcatel and Siemens channels will not sell this product and companies such as BT are not ready to sell these products for political and other reasons. The large computer companies are a possibility but they do not have pure voice channels, so Cisco has its work cut out in this area," he concluded.
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