Most of us believe VoIP can reduce the telephony costs of remote branch offices. What’s harder to determine is which kind of VoIP we’re talking about. Is this the VoIP that’s built around a remote gateway? The VoIP that involves only IP phones in the branch office? Or is it a combination of both? Making an informed choice is difficult because there are so many ways VoIP can be implemented.

Attendant consoles can drop those costs even further. Attendant consoles generally cost about a hundred dollars more than a regular phone. Avaya still charges $500 for its software-based attendant console used with its key system replacement, IP Office. However, many IP telephony vendors now build this functionality into the phone, or, as is the case with ShoreTel, bundle it as an application with the phone.

The difference is particularly acute when it comes to high-end phones. Today’s third-party SIP-based softphones, such as Xten Networks’ EyeBeam, run around $60, equipped with integrated video, presence, and IM capabilities. A comparable hard client would cost hundreds of dollars, and even Avaya’s SIP-based softphone costs twice that amount.


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