Voice over IP

Can Smart phones Replace Desk phones?

Yes, mobile phones can replace IP desk phones. Most IP PBX vendors and independent application developers have developed SIP Clients that enable smart phones to work like landline extensions. IP PBX connects to the smart phones over the IP/WiFi network and assigns extension numbers to them. So calls are routed to/from the smart phones over the WiFi network.

The Advantages of using Smart Phones instead of IP Desk Phones are:

  • Since SIP clients are available for all major mobile platforms, employees can use their own (or) company-provided smart phones. Fewer IP desk phones/cables-accessories are required. This saves a lot of capital expenditure especially considering the $100 – $500 cost price per IP phone.
  • Unified Communications capabilities like video, audio, messaging, presence, etc. can be better achieved using a smart phone.
  • With some SIP clients, it is possible to transfer the call, send it to voice mail, initiate a 3-way conference, and do many other things that can be done using normal desk phones.
  • Mobile Device Management enables organizations to monitor/control enterprise smart phone usage.
  • Technologies like Fixed Mobile Convergence integrate Cellular Networks and IP Networks, and enable the handsets to handle calls on both networks efficiently.

The Limitations of using Smart Phones instead of IP Desk Phones include:

  • Handling data security in a smart phone maybe an issue as the phones connect to the network and Internet. Employees use the same device for personal and professional purposes, and hence, without proper management/isolation capabilities, smart phone security is an issue.
  • Smart phone batteries may not last long, esp. if usage is higher.
  • There are chances of mobiles getting lost/stolen, unlike the fixed landlines. Also, remote wipe capabilities are not available on all mobile platforms.
  • A good WiFi network with an upgraded centralized wireless controller and additional access points maybe required to make sure that WiFi network is reachable to all smart phones, interference is minimized, and call quality is up to the mark. This costs serious $$$.
  • Management and serviceability of multiple-platform mobile phones (and their updates) will require more effort. Enterprise-class support may not be available for many smart phone models.
  • Some smart phones may not support QoS parameters to prioritize voice calls over normal data traffic in the network.
  • Not all Smart phones can work in the 5 GHz spectrum to minimize interference from neighboring wireless devices.

Not all desk phones can be replaced by mobile phones as special phones for customer support centers, elevators, receptions, etc. are still required. Even otherwise, employees/management may not prefer replacing all desk phones right away. But I guess eventually mobiles will overtake desktop phones in companies.

What do you think?

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