• United States

ShoreTel brings high fidelity to VoIP

Apr 21, 20042 mins

* ShoreTel’s phones have high fidelity, but only when used with other ShoreTel gear

As discussed in our last newsletter, ShoreTel has introduced what we believe is the industry’s first hi-fi telephony instrument for VoIP. This is especially significant in that it may move some of the discussion about VoIP from producing sound that is as good as (or almost as good as) plain old telephony service using as little bandwidth as possible to using a bit more bandwidth and getting better sound.

Technically, what this means is that while traditional phones have a frequency response from 300 to 3,300 Hertz, the new ShoreTel phones have a frequency response of 100 to 7,000 Hertz. And while this is somewhat short of the traditional 20 to 20,000 Hertz frequency response as a starting point for “hi-fi” audio equipment, it certainly gives a big boost to the sound quality.

There actually are three different models of the phone with the usual feature differentiation as the price increases. All models, however, include an advanced acoustic design and the capability for hi-fi voice when communicating with other ShoreTel phones.

But this also points up yet another issue with IP PBXes and phones. At this point, if you want to take advantage of ShoreTel’s hi-fi phones, you have to use them with ShoreTel’s IP PBXes. In spite of many users’ hopes that IP telephony in general, and SIP in particular, would bring about full plug-and-play interoperability among equipment from different vendors, this is not necessarily a realistic expectation. 

For years, phones and PBXes from different manufacturers have provided basic telephony features in a heterogeneous environment. And the same can be expected for IP phones. But in order for you to get the full feature set from your traditional supplier, you had to have both the PBX and the phone come from the same provider. And again the same can be expected from IP phones.

Manufacturers will continue to offer a set of proprietary features that they feel will give them a competitive advantage when both the phone and the PBX come from the same provider. That’s what an open, competitive market is all about, and it’s also what provides the capital to fund advancing the technology. At the same time, it doesn’t make it any easier for the communications manager who’s charged with integrating the IP phone systems from two disparate companies when there’s a corporate merger.