Networking vendor 3Com will introduce its enterprise-level IP telephony Softswitch towards the end of this year, after it is customised for the UK.
Launched in the US in April, the v7000 is likely to make its debut in the last quarter of 2003, according to Buddie Ceronie, regional director at 3Com.
The software-based switch will offer companies with 50 to 50,000 users scalable IP telephony that works with handsets from third-party vendors.
"We would like to offer this product in the UK as soon as possible but we have to customise it because telephony standards are different in each market," said Ceronie.
He was unable to give an exact date for availability, but confirmed that it is "likely to be during the final quarter of this year".
The switch supports the Session Initiation Protocol standard, which enables third-party telephones to use the software.
"Customers will be able to use more than one vendor's handsets which will save money when upgrading," said Ceronie.
The company boasts AT&T as a US customer of the v7000. The carrier provides about 13 million minutes of Voice over IP (VoIP) services per day using the product.
In line with its indirect sales strategy 3Com will sell the Softswitch through a selected reseller channel.
Mark Davenport, managing director at networking equipment reseller Starwand Computers, claimed that demand for voice and data convergence is "about to explode".
"Most people that are specifying networks at the moment are demanding a migration path to VoIP," he said, adding that companies are rolling out VoIP in stages rather than risking full upgrades.
Rachel Power, an analyst at Canalys, agreed. "There are a lot of pilot systems at the moment where businesses are installing IP telephony for a few hundred users," she said.
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