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NEC UNIVERGE 3C: Product overview

Unlike solutions that are licensed by service, the NEC UNIVERGE 3C offers a unique licensing model, providing users with complete UC services without additional costs.

Editor's note: This article is part of a buying series on unified communications. The features in this series describe the evolution of UC and its use cases, as well as the important criteria to consider when buying a UC solution. The series also compares the top UC products in the market. This article gives an overview of NEC's UC products.

The UNIVERGE 3C is NEC's unified communications solution targeting small and large enterprises. UNIVERGE 3C is a single software application that provides organizations with IP PBX services, voicemail, unified messaging, collaboration tools, video conferencing, auto attendant features and much more.

Unlike most UC products, the UNIVERGE 3C platform is not Linux-based but is installed on a Windows Server. However, the software supports both physical hardware and virtualization environments (Hyper-V and VMware).

Each physical or virtual server supports up to 1,500 devices with a total of 20 servers deployed in the network. So, at maximum capacity, the UNIVERGE 3C can support up to 30,000 devices, making it more than adequate to cover large, global enterprises.

With the ability to deploy multiple servers throughout the enterprise network, there is no single point of failure, as even remote servers can serve as backup servers. Management of the UNIVERGE 3C system is performed via a comprehensive Web-based tool set that also supports monitoring and extensive reporting capabilities.

Licensing is perhaps one of UNIVERGE 3C's biggest benefits. While other vendors usually group user licenses into different services and capabilities, NEC follows a software-based licensing model that grants users access to all UC services without additional costs. Considering licensing accounts for a large portion of the budget, NEC's decision not to follow the market's licensing trend will definitely attract attention.

UNIVERGE 3C fully integrates with Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory to ensure compatibility, operability and enhanced productivity. By clicking a few buttons, users can easily make use of UNIVERGE 3C services such as video conferencing, screen sharing or file sharing. Calls can be escalated or placed in a queue and users can invoke co-browsing sessions with their customers.

Call routing for toll-free/least-cost path are supported via SIP trunks connecting to telecommunication providers or media gateways that connect to PSTN/ISDN networks. NEC offers specific media gateways that extend connectivity to the outside world.

Media gateways connect networks, feature easy installation

UNIVERGE Media Gateways provide the UNIVERGE 3C system connectivity to WAN/PSTN/ISDN services and are automatically discovered by the UNIVERGE 3C, allowing for simple deployment. NEC offers four media gateways, each designed for a particular function and service.

The COHub Media Gateway provides digital trunk connectivity and connects the UNIVERGE 3C to the PSTN for outbound calling via a number of different WAN interfaces, such as T1/E1 (24/32 ISDN channels). The COHub can also connect an existing PBX with the UNIVERGE 3C via a T1 interface, making it a great choice to integrate existing PBX systems.

The PhoneHub Media Gateway extends VoIP to analog devices such as phones, faxes and alarm systems. Each PhoneHub provides up to 24 analog ports and is automatically discovered by UNIVERGE 3C, making installation less troublesome.

The BranchHub Media Gateway connects the UNIVERGE 3C to the PSTN for outside calling and supports up to six analog loop start trunks. In addition, support is provided for up to 12 analog phones allowing the integration of older analog phones to the IP telephony infrastructure. As with all NEC media gateways, the BranchHub can be automatically discovered, making it easy to deploy and configure.

The MeetingHub is an in-house conference bridge that allows up to 60 simultaneous participants across multiple conference lines. Unlike other vendors, all software licensing is included at no additional cost. The MeetingHub also has auto-discovery and configuration features.

Supporting mobility and consistent user interfaces

NEC has focused intently on mobility -- since it's such an important feature for enterprise-class customers.

The UNIVERGE 3C UC Client supports a range of devices, such as smartphones, PCs, iPhones and tablets. But NEC has managed to keep a consistent user interface across all devices, creating an easy transition from one device to another. This is a major advantage for geographically diverse organizations.

The UC Client offers the following capabilities: instant messaging, voice and video conferencing, real-time presence, Microsoft Outlook integration, and softphone application.

Other features include scheduled presence and availability -- where users can route calls to different devices -- and call transfers, which allows calls to be transferred from one device to another without service interruption.

NEC's UNIVERGE 3C is a complete platform that aims to provide advanced UC services in a simple way -- from its software components, all the way to its licensing. Thanks to its straightforward design, enterprise customers can deploy the solution easily in a small or large environment.

NEC offers many more additions for UNIVERGE 3C for contact center, call accounting and reminder functionality. NEC's UNIVERGE 3C for Hospitality is a version tailored to provide hotels with advanced telephony and messaging features for improved staff efficiency and customer service.

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