• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

Avaya for telecommuters

Jan 08, 20042 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsVoIP

* The Reviewmeister continues looking at VoIP gear for telecommuters

Continuing our tour of VoIP gear aimed specifically at telecommuters, let’s listen in on Avaya.

The Avaya features, included in the $150-per-PC Mobility Package, include a soft phone and routing features that connect and transfer calls to the teleworker’s cell and home phones.

There’s also IM and a unique feature that integrates phone numbers embedded in Web pages with the soft phone, so you can click on and dial any phone number you see while surfing the Web. Other well-done, useful features include the six-party audioconferencing and integration of the Avaya applications on the desktop with Microsoft Outlook.

As most of the teleworker calls we tested used standard vocoders and VPN tunnels, the per-VoIP-call WAN bandwidth consumption was similar with all the vendors we looked at.

But call quality varied significantly in some cases. Avaya’s less-expensive IP phones, the 4602, priced at $195, delivered poor-to-fair call quality with compressed G.729 vocoding.

Call quality with Avaya Model 4620 IP phones, twice the price of the 4602, consistently yielded good calls. Avaya says the two phone models implement vocoding algorithms differently, which is not typically the case with VoIP products from the same vendor.

The ability to tune Avaya’s soft phone for optimizing call quality is noteworthy. The administrator and the teleworker can readily modify vocoders, even adjust receive and transmit gain (volume) levels. Avaya, too, lets the teleworker closely associate the IP soft phone with an IP hard phone, home phone or cell phone. The teleworker can retrieve some rudimentary real-time quality-of-service data from the soft phone, too.

The leading IP-PBX vendors all have a story to tell for extending VoIP out to teleworkers. But their on-site teleworker packages vary considerably in equipment and configuration, feature, price and relative call quality. Soft-phone call quality was best with Nortel, followed by Avaya.

IP hard phone call quality generally was better and more consistent across the board, although there were noticeable differences with the two vocoders we tested and between Avaya’s different IP-hard phone models.

Avaya prefers a multi-port VPN box at the teleworker site, while other vendors employed PC-based VPN client software in our testing. Otherwise, all the vendors endorse and support IPSec-based VPN tunnels for securing teleworker-to-headquarters VoIP connections.

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