Back in 1995 I published a magazine called CTI and the computer telephony/CTI market was what the VoIP market is today. The technology wasn’t the same but the market was similar in that it allowed computer systems to speak with phone systems and it ignited tremendous growth and new paradigms in communications. At one point (if you can believe it), VoIP was just a small subset of the CTI market and in fact Internet Telephony Magazine was a spin-off off of CTI Magazine.
Linking computers and phones together today seems like no great feat but back in the 80s it would cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to get some interoperability going and you could do it only if you had an IBM mainframe and Rockwell ACD.
One of the leaders in PBX market during the CTI days was Inter-Tel and they differentiated themselves by continuously innovating.
I give you this history as it is a good set up for a story about a new product Inter-Tel recently released. They were nice enough to brief me in person for over an hour on their new SME based phone system based 100% on IP.
Here are the models and capacities
Model Number Users Comments
5200 25 Available Now
5400 110 Available Now
5600 250-300 Available Soon
All models support 2 digital expansion units that support 48 ports each.
The 5000 series supports all the multiprotocol SIP endpoints the company has released in the past and can also support 2 WiFi telephony phones as well as a softphone that works on a PocketPC.
Voicemail is CompactFlash based and can simply be put in a new box if the current box gets damaged. The god news for reseller and end-users is that they will be able to purchase the system in various easy to select packages with pre-loaded applications.
The price is around $400-$600 per user without endpoints. Some applications will be available at this price such as unified messaging and/or presence but add more apps and you will pay more money.
There are certainly more inexpensive options around but Inter-Tel allows you to buy a fairly inexpensive IP-PBX that is expandable, 100% IP based, is compatible with a number of leading-edge applications, and has a tremendous dealer network that is unrivaled by the newer IP PBX start-ups.