Siemens Adds Voice-over-Wi-Fi to CorporateConnect

Siemens Information and Communication Networks (ICN), the telecom arm of German electronics giant Siemens AG, on Monday unveiled a new version of its IP telephony application that includes a softphone client for Pocket PCs.

With HiPath CorporateConnect version 2.0, users with Wi-Fi-equipped Pocket PCs can make and receive calls using their PDA. The new version also adds a Web-based client.

CorporateConnect is targeted at the growing number of mobile workers who need to be accessible to customers wherever they are. The current crop of “find me, follow me solutions” that forward phone calls to different devices are adequate for the customers, but not the workers, argued Kathy Heilmann, senior group marketing manager at Siemens ICN. “They still have to integrate all [those messages] on the back-end,” she said.

That’s where CorporateConnect comes in. The application acts as a “virtual extension cord” for a worker’s office phone, said Dave Winikoff, director of applications product management at Siemens ICN. It allows workers to access features such as call forwarding and conference calling from mobile devices such as cell phones and PDAs.

“We’ve taken the guided menu system from our office phones and made that available audibly,” he said. “Literally every feature available on your desk phone becomes available regardless of what device you’re using.”

With the new clients, workers can navigate the phone system via a graphical user interface (GUI). They can set up a mobility profile to direct calls to various devices and view an online log of office phone calls. The PDA client, which Winikoff said the company is starting to roll out in its own San Jose, Calif., campus, also offers the ability to make phone calls over an 802.11 wireless network.

While there are other softphone clients for Pocket PCs, such as TeleSym’s SymPhone, Winikoff said that CorporateConnect is more robust since it includes access to all of the communications systems available on office phones, including conferencing, extension dialing and message waiting indicators (a flashing light appears on a worker’s Pocket PC screen).

“In lieu of being a Wi-Fi version of a cell phone, it’s a Wi-Fi version of an office phone,” said Heilmann.

CorporateConnect version 2.0 will be available in November for a promotional price of $225 per simultaneously logged-in client. Heilmann said the promotion is slated to run through the end of the year.

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