• United States
by Steve Taylor and Larry Hettick

Will IP Centrex succeed?

Apr 14, 20032 mins

* One obstacle for IP Centrex is its name

At the recent Voice on the Net show, we heard about some excellent capabilities for IP Centrex service. In fact, IP Centrex is not limited to services from the incumbent local exchange carriers – this was highlighted by the fact that one of the more intriguing demos was available in the AT&T booth for its as-yet-unannounced service.

There’s no question that IP Centrex is an excellent fit for many enterprises as they make the transition to voice over IP. But there are two major issues that must be addressed for IP Centrex to become the success that it should be, and we’ll address the first of these in this newsletter.

Frankly, IP Centrex needs a new name. In today’s world, “Centrex” sounds old. By analogy, the “All New 2003 Edsel” wouldn’t exactly excite the automotive world. “Centrex” also implies “centralized.” It implies a close association with the local central office. Indeed, traditional “Centrex” service was based on offering the same set of custom calling features that you would receive in a traditional PBX, only from a central-office configuration.

There’s a major difference between the fundamental architectures of “Centrex” and “IP Centrex” services. In many cases, it is somewhere between difficult and just short of impossible to extend traditional Centrex features across the WAN. If you have one set of features available as a user at the office, having that same profile and set of features follow you across the country is not trivial.

However, with IP Centrex, the barrier of connection to a local switch is removed, so location independence becomes a given.

We’re not sure exactly how to convey this message. Perhaps the service should be called “IP Distributex” simply to emphasize this major advantage. But one thing is for sure – it’s not a “centralized” service.