Toshiba upgrades its IP phone platform; Facebook extends VoIP

In the two separate headlines today, Toshiba's Telecommunication Systems Division has enhanced its IPedge platform, while Facebook has extended its VoIP trial to the United States.

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Toshiba has announced upgrades to its IPedge family of IP business telephone systems designed to meet the needs of small to midsize businesses. The latest features include a mobile client called IP Mobility, voice mail survivability via direct cluster networking, and some added "gateway wizards."

The IP Mobility client application provides single number reach to Apple and Android mobile devices, along with visual voice mail to remotely manage and control IPedge Messaging voice mailboxes. Release 1.5 upgrades are for Toshiba's IPedge EM (up to 1,000 users), IPedge EC (up to 200 users), and IPedge EP (up to 40 users) models.

Commenting in a statement, Brian Metherell, vice president and general manager of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., said, "Now with IPMobility, IPedge empowers SMBs and multi-site enterprises with the smartphone features they need to communicate more efficiently, cost effectively and reliably. Faster and easier to install, set-up, and use, IPedge Release 1.5 gives companies a robust IP telephone solution that is backed by Toshiba's best-in-class reliability."

In our second headline, Facebook has extended its VoIP calling beyond a trial in Canada to now include United States users. As we noted earlier this month, the voice calling feature is part of an upgrade to Facebook's messenger platform. Voice conversations can be launched to another Facebook user, although for now only friends in Canada and the U.S. can participate in this trial.

Unlike Skype and other services, off-net calls are not allowed using Facebook's voice service, and the feature is not yet supported on mobile devices. We also observed that in our limited experience with the new feature, the call quality was not as good as other over the top VoIP services such as Skype or Vonage, although it was fine for a limited discussion with a Facebook friend. Facebook has not commented on any plans for mobile -- or on when the calling feature might be extended outside the U.S. and Canada.

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