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We're opening a remote office -- should we get a new vendor who offers local support and SIP instead

We're opening a remote office -- should we get a new vendor who offers local support and SIP instead of H.323?

I work with a company that has an Ericsson BP 250 in the Australia headquarters and we'll be opening a small San Francisco, Calif. Office soon. We are currently interviewing vendors for an IP telephony solution to connect the two offices, as well as mobile U.S. workers and eventually some other small international offices. Ericsson does not have a large support infrastructure in the U.S. and the recommended vendor is in southern California, a plane ride away.

In your opinion, are there inherent integration benefits to staying with Ericsson (they recommend the MX ONE) rather than working with a local vendor with another platform (Avaya, ShoreTel and Cisco are well represented in the area)?

Not only does minimal vendor access cause concerns, but Ericsson is using H.323 call signaling and I understand that SIP is becoming the standard of choice. Would this affect our investment and future interoperability between systems?

You are correct to worry about local support. While many things can be handled remotely, parts replacement can not and you may not find it acceptable to be down during the plane ride. Personally, I am a firm believer in making sure that local support is available from multiple sources -- not just one. As for any specific benefits from staying with Ericsson just to be sticking with them, I am not sure that there really is a benefit if you can't get local support. Certainly your inside staff would only have to work with one platform, but it does not sound like you plan on supporting this equipment in-house anyway.

There are gateways that work between H.323 and SIP, so in theory, you could use anything on the U.S. end that you wanted. But you will certainly want to verify interoperability with any gateway vendor you choose. SIP is becoming the most popular protocol and will provide additional options and benefits for your roaming and remote users. Some of the newer gear includes a conversion gateway inside the box, so you may not even need an external gateway. The conversion gateway may add a tiny amount of latency, but SIP is very quick and sets up a type of virtual session to help speed things up.

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