Cisco (News - Alert) expands the regional availability for the Unified Communications 300 Series introduced earlier this year for smaller businesses that require basic or foundational UC features in an affordable, all-in-one unit that is easy to deploy and manage. Version 2.1.1 adds language, dial plan and tone support for additional countries, increases some call processing capacities and adds some new user features.
Earlier this year, Cisco expanded its Small Business voice portfolio with the Unified Communications (News - Alert) 300 Series, an all-in-one unit with a small space requirement that promises to reduce complexity with easy deployment and management and which sells at a price attractive to small businesses. The UC300 Series is part of Cisco’s Foundational Unified Communications (UC) offering designed to provide basic or foundational UC features for small businesses, typically voice, data and wireless integration, plus some basic integrated messaging applications. Cisco’s earlier Unified Communications 500 Series (UC500) is also designed for smaller businesses, but belongs to the company’s Advanced UC offering which has a more advanced feature set such as support for video, applications integration and enhanced security and mobility.
The UC320W is the first (and currently the only) available hardware platform in the UC300 Series. UC320W is an IP-based communications system that supports 2-24 users at a single site and enables traditional telephony (can be configured in a Key or PBX (News - Alert) mode), but also has integrated voicemail and automated attendant with voicemail to e-mail notification, one built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless access point, a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port. UC320W supports SIP trunking, as well as Cisco gateways for connection to 12 public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines (FXO), including up to nine analog phones.
The system supports Cisco SPA 300 and SPA 500 Series IP phones, including two entry-level IP phones: the basic non-display 1-line SPA 301 and the 3-line SPA 303 with some more advanced features. Five SPA 500 Series phones introduced in 2009 are also available, including the SPA525G2 with color display and wired or wireless connectivity. All Cisco SPA Series phones have dual protocol support, utilizing Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) with the Cisco UC300 Series and third-party call controllers, or using Cisco’s Smart Phone Control Protocol (SPCP) with the Cisco UC500 Series.
Since its introduction in February 2011, the Cisco UC320W firmware has been updated with two new releases. Version 2.0.9 in June 2011 added a new Support Tools section to the system’s Status module, allowing administrators to enable, view and download system logs and to test IP connectivity. The latest Version 2.1.1 is a more significant release and makes a number of improvements as follows:
- Additional Country Support: Originally available in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, the Cisco UC320W adds language, dial plan and call processing tone support for the following additional countries: Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Singapore and Spain (the product is not yet sold in Brazil or Malaysia). A dual language option (such as English/French) can be configured for the Auto Attendant, giving callers the option to choose a language from the Auto Attendant menu.
- Region Packs: Cisco is using cloud technology to decouple the support of additional countries (language, dial plan, dial tone) from the firmware, allowing flexible support for other geographies over time. Switzerland is the first country using this capability, with additional countries expected to follow.
- Increased Capacities: While the number of users (2-24) remains the same, call processing capacities are increased in several categories, namely simultaneous calls per SIP trunk (up from eight to 12), simultaneous hunt group calls (up from eight to 12), simultaneous Auto Attendant calls (up from eight to 12) and simultaneous voicemail accesses (up from four to eight).
- New Busy Lamp Field (BLF) Features: Users can monitor calls for another user with Line Monitor to monitor a single extension for another user, or Phone (News - Alert) Monitor to monitor all extensions on another user’s phone. Users can also pick up a ringing call on the monitored extension or quickly transfer a call to the monitored user.
- Group Paging: Users can create a paging group and send a page to group members not currently on an active call (Gentle Paging) or page all users immediately (Emergency Paging).
- Day/Night Call Forwarding: The system can configure “night-time” call forwarding to forward personal or group calls (night-time call routing and Auto Attendant were already available as system features in release 2.0).
Cisco UC320W is available now in selected countries in the North American, EMEA, APAC and CALA regions and lists for $US995, including the hardware, software and licenses for 24 users, as well as a one-year hardware warranty and 90 days of software support which can be extended for three years with the Small Business Support Service. Sandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves