Choosing a VoIP vendor: A buyer's guide
A collection of articles that takes you from defining technology needs to purchasing options
Editor's note: This article is part of a buying guide on voice over IP (VoIP). The features in this series describe the evolution of VoIP, its use cases and important criteria to consider when buying a VoIP service. The series also compares the top VoIP products in the marketplace. This article gives an overview of Panasonic VoIP systems.
Panasonic entered the IP PBX market with its popular KX-TDE series PBXs and KX-NS1000 model. The KX-TDE series has three different models: the KX-TDE100, KX-TDE200 and KX-TDE600, each targeted toward different company sizes and connectivity needs. The KX-NS1000 is an IP PBX solution that offers extensive unified communications (UC) services to its users. A list of Panasonic's IP PBXs is available on its website.
The KX-TDE100 and KX-TDE200 models offer similar capabilities. Both models can support up to 256 extensions and 64 SIP trunks, but the models differ in the number of extension types they support, such as SIP, analog or digital phones.
The KX-TDE100 is housed in a cabinet with six free slots, whereas the KX-TDE200's housing provides 11 free slots. Customers can buy additional cards, allowing them to connect the PBX with analog phones, Panasonic digital phones, telecommunications providers (ISDN/PRI/PSTN) and more.
The KX-TDE600 model is the largest PBX currently offered in the Panasonic VoIP lineup. The main unit offers 10 free slots but is able to accept up to three additional expansion shelves -- each shelf supporting up to 11 free slots -- for a total of 43 slots. The KX-TDE600 can support up to 1,152 extensions and 640 trunks, of which 64 can be SIP trunks.
Different configurations provide users with flexibility
The KX-TDE series is offered in a custom-made cabinet with proprietary cards, unlike other vendor solutions that are PC server-based. This design lets Panasonic keep a modular approach, allowing customers to expand their IP PBX by using special cards that are inserted into free slots inside the main cabinet, which further reduces costs.
With the KX-TDE600, customers buy the main cabinet -- or base unit -- and depending on their infrastructure and needs, they can purchase up to three expansion shelves, which are physical cabinets that stack on top of the base unit and provide the necessary expandability. Expansion shelves are only available on the KX-TDE600 model.
TDE systems can also network together, allowing businesses to link up to 16 sites seamlessly without additional hardware, such as proxies or voice gateways.
All KX-TDE models natively support IP and SIP phones, allowing businesses to register Panasonic IP phones or even third-party SIP phones, called SIP extensions. However, Panasonic VoIP phones are not compatible with other SIP-based IP PBXs. Depending on the number of SIP extensions, businesses should ensure the appropriate number of licenses and hardware digital signal processors are purchased and installed into the IP PBX.
The KX-TDE models also support SIP trunking, which allows businesses to connect directly to SIP providers and route incoming/outgoing phone calls via the Internet or through a dedicated leased line to the SIP provider.
The Panasonic VoIP system can also record voice messages 24 hours a day. Businesses looking for advanced voicemail and auto attendant features will need to consider the KX-TVA series voice processing system.
Setup and administration of the Panasonic KX-TDE series is performed by using Panasonic's Maintenance Console, also known as PBX Unified PC Maintenance Console, which is installed on a PC that is directly attached to the PBX. However, the Maintenance Console can be installed as a Web server on a client PC directly attached to the PBX, which allows users to configure the PBX via a Web browser.
Exploring some unique user applications
The Panasonic VoIP suite works with some interesting software to expand the functionality and services that businesses can offer to their users. The Outlook Add-in USB software is a plug-in that allows users to use many of Outlook's email and organization features to set the behavior of their extension -- a few examples are scheduling automatic call forwarding via Outlook Calendar and making calls directly from Outlook contacts list.
Another useful application is Panasonic's Phone Assistant software, which allows users to use their workstation desktop to view call-related information, such as caller ID, and perform simple point-and-click actions, such as answering calls or viewing colleague availability.
Phone Assistant Status allows business managers and supervisors to use real-time monitoring of all member telephony communication. With the help of Phone Assistant Status, managers can monitor up to 128 users while viewing their presence and availability.
Panasonic offers all PBX models and software through its authorized dealer network.
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