Packet8 675xi VoIP for the SMB

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Tom Keating
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Packet8 675xi VoIP for the SMB

I missed the 8x8/Packet8 news on July 16th about its new hosted small office "key" system and plug-and-play IP phones. Joan Citelli, Director of Corporate Communications emailed me asking for a briefing, but apparently I never replied since her email was still marked as unread and nothing in my Sent Items. Email overload I guess. The news was about 8x8, working with handset maker Aastra Telecom to provide a key system to the SMB market,which is part of the new Packet8 675xi series.

I happened to come across Carolyn Schuk's article while surfing the web and came across her post about some 8x8 news that I missed. She writes, "8x8 is VoIP's Rodney Dangerfield. It just gets no respect." She has an excellent point and one which I wholeheartedly agree with.

Carolyn then lays out her case: "Consider how it stacks up against its far better-known pure-play VoIP competitor, Vonage: In the last five years, 8x8 revenues grew 460.3 percent while Vonage's grew 0.0 percent. 8x8 made $700,000 during the first quarter of this year. Vonage lost $8.9 million and is shopping for a $215 million refinancing deal to stay out of bankruptcy. 8x8 holds 73 patents. Vonage just got its first. Despite this, Vonage's stock price is $1.58 while 8x8's is $1.03."

She goes on to explain that the news coverage of the new Packet8 675xi series was sorely lacking, which sparked the Rodney Dangerfield comment. I'm guilty as charged, since I didn't cover the news. Though it wasn't for a lack of respect that I didn't cover the Packet8 news. Sometimes it's just impossible to cover all the daily VoIP news in addition to my testing of VoIP products, managing the MIS department as CTO, etc.

Well, better late than never. Today, I thought I'd give an overview of the new Packet8 675xi series, which is actually part of their Packet8 Hosted Key System Services. Perhaps most importantly, this offering supports "call appearances" commonly referred to as "shared line appearances" or SLA, which enables you to know when someone is using a line. It's a popular feature of key systems and one which is often difficult to reproduce on VoIP systems. Supporting SLA is often a key selling advantage when targeting the SMB which is used to call appearance functionality.

First off, the Packet8 675xi IP phone series consists of three models -- the 6753i entry level phone, 6755i intermediate phone and 6757i CT advanced phone. Essentially these are OEM'ed versions of the Aastra 53i, 55i, and 57i CT but with a special firmware load. Each model offers full duplex speakerphone functionality, programmable softkey appearances, LCD display screens, embedded XML browsers and up to nine call appearance lines. All models support Power over Ethernet and come equipped with dual auto-sensing switched Ethernet ports.

Here's pictures of all 3 models:

The Packet8 675xi series include intercom paging and direct dial from a searchable corporate directory. Prices for the Packet8 675xi series range from $129.99 for the 6753i to $349.99 for the high end 6757i CT model which includes a DECT cordless phone as part of the bundled offer. The 6757i CT model's built in DECT antenna allows the user to roam up to a 300 foot radius from the 6757i CT base telephone. The Packet8 675xi IP phones also feature corporate directory display and lookup, intercom paging, and shared line appearance.

The Packet8 675xi series of IP phones incorporates 8x8's advanced NAT traversal technologies. This allows users to simply plug the phone into any Internet connection and immediately make or receive calls without performing any network or firewall configuration.

The high-end Packet8 6757i CT includes an integrated cordless handset with coverage up to 300,000 sq ft. It has a large 144 x 128 pixel graphical backlit LCD display and 6 dynamic context-sensitive softkeys, and with its large screen it can take full advantage of XML based programs.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Packet8 675xi series use SIP trunking to Packet8's network infrastructure. All of the telephony functions such as transfer, conferencing, voicemail, etc. reside on the Packet8 network. Thus, you don't need any costly IP-PBX hardware at the customer premise - you just need IP phones. This can be a huge cost savings for SMBs looking for an inexpensive VoIP solution, especially as the costs and margins for IP-PBXs continue to shrink with growing price pressure from more competition and open source solutions like Digium's Asterisk.

Packet8/8x8 certainly has earned my admiration with some great products and services, a cool videophone, and more VoIP patents than you can shake a stick at! My 'respect' has been duly given.

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