Cisco Phone Systems

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Cisco phone systems rely on a product called Cisco Unity, which employs a unified communications server that "talks to" your extant phone network. To put it simply, Cisco makes the products that let your voicemail speak to your phone. Why should the two systems need to do this? The answer is that each system follows its own protocols and standards, making integration a challenge. The promise of Cisco phone systems is their ability to get these two systems to exchange information quickly and reliably. This exchange can take place in one of two ways, either through a direct and physical connection or over a network much like that of your office PCs.

Cisco and VoIP

Using a network is the primary reason phone systems such as VoIP are so convenient. Rather than having wiring for your employees' phone conversations and their digital (largely internet-based) transactions, VoIP puts all these transactions in one format, on one network. Cisco, as a leading producer of telecommunications solutions and products, is naturally at the forefront of this development.

There are companies that have partnered with Cisco to provide truly comprehensive communications services. You may not have even thought that all these services could be possible using IP telephony. Here are some features that you would be able to use with a VoIP solution: IP phones that can simulate multiple lines, caller ID (and blocking), call forwarding, call waiting, 3- and 4-way calling, speed dials, and call transfers.

More advanced features also available with quality VoIP providers include abbreviated dialing within and between corporate locations (usually 4 digits only), digital faxing capabilities, and calling plans with minutes that may be used by any or all employees (rather than having minutes assigned to each seat). As many companies offer work-from-home and telecommuting options to their employees, the world of wireless is increasingly important, too. Wireless service is usually a part of any bundled VoIP plan, allowing your employees to keep up with email traffic and schedule changes via a cell phone or PDA.

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