Comms Business Magazine looks at the latest SIP phones on the market from budget handsets to top end feature phones as well as soft phone variants to provide resellers with a range of choices to consider for their customers.
The SIP phone market is getting increasingly crowded as new entrants launch their products in to what is a very buoyant market driven by the increased use of SIP trunks, VoIP and unified communications.
This round up of SIP phones from the key UK players also takes in commentary we have received on the state of this market and shows what users are looking for from their handsets.
According to Nadahl Shocair, CEO at Snom Technology AG, empires are being built not on applications but on platforms and their API’s.
“Snom manufactures business communications devices – telephones – these devices are engineering, designed and manufacture but us and sold throughout the world. To leverage the knowledge base of our huge fan base and reseller network we launched Snom iO. To kick-start the project they challenged employees to develop new applications. The results included a robot run by pushing keys on a business telephone, controlling lights, controlling colours of lights, and showing the power of controlling devices via your business telephone. Businesses today need to think about ecosystems and what is possible, pull together the platform to grow and ensure people can link in and work together easily.”
Next-Generation Business Phone: Snom says – The D375 4.3” colour display offers extended presentation of call lists, address books, and menus. 12 freely programmable dual-colour keys can be configured for speed dial, extension, or presence. 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports, built-in Bluetooth compatibility and a high-speed USB port provide connectivity. Dual Stack IPv4/IPv6 ensures investment security. The non-wearing sensor hookswitch provides long product life. The DSP paired with audio engineered in Germany, guarantees performance. Its gently inclined shape provides for easy dialing. Keypad timesaving function keys support Do Not Disturb, redial, transfer, and conference. Snom IO empowers developers to create and integrate applications.
Desk phone with HD audio and rich visual display: Snom says – Aesthetically appealing and highly practical the D765 combines ease of use, versatility, design quality and audio performance. A 3.5” high-resolution colour TFT display delivers rich information such as presence and photocaller ID. 16 programmable multicolour function keys can be configured for one-touch telephony functions. The phone features 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports, built-in Bluetooth compatibility and a high-speed USB port for easy connection. Superior audio quality is delivered by the advanced speaker and microphone system and DSP. Snom IO empowers developers to create and integrate applications.
Simon Horton, Director of Product Management and Product Marketing at Sangoma, says his company probably sees this market a little differently from other vendors.
“Since our acquisition of FreePBX last year, we have accelerated our phones launch due to the huge pent up demand from our installed base of FreePBX which is over 2M globally. IP-phones have been our most successful product launch to date, selling out rapidly in many countries. The market in the UK demand high quality phones, with deep integration with the PBX with ease of deployment also a key requirement.”
Sangoma says their s300 phone is the entry level phone in the new series of Sangoma IP phones. Designed to work exclusively with Sangoma’s PBX solutions FreePBX and PBXact UC the s300 brings ease of deployment and tight integration to the market at a competitive price point. The s300 features five-way conferencing, PoE, dual ethernet ports and built in VPN, for easy access to the host PBX for remote users. Where the s300 really shines is in ease of deployment, deep integration with Sangoma PBXs EndPoint Manager and redirection server means these phones can be installed as quickly as they can be unboxed.
In a different approach to most others, Mondago has embedded their SIP softphone client directly into their popular UC products. This marriage of CTI and SIP allows a single desktop client to simultaneously control both the embedded SIP softphone and their traditional digital or IP hard phone – perfect for a user working in multiple locations. This gives the user a full UC experience, including integration to Mondago’s wide range of CRM systems – and all within a single PC client! Integration with the existing UC environment also allows SIP credentials to be managed centrally avoiding the need for the user to enter them.
Mondago’s embedded SIP softphone offers a choice of two interfaces; an informative intuitive ‘Phone Window’ for novice users and an unobtrusive ‘pop-up’ preview window for more experienced users. Both interfaces provide dial, answer, transfer, hold and hang up and combine seamlessly with Mondago’s CRM integration add-ins including a range of click to dial techniques. G.722 is included in the list of supported CODECs and SIP provisioning options are available. The product architecture also allows the client to control both the embedded SIP softphone and the user’s traditional desk phone.
Darren Garland, Managing Director of distributor ProVu Communications, comments, “At ProVu our SIP phone sales are continuing to increase at a pace and whilst there have been no major changes in the SIP phone market in the last 12 months we have begun to see an increase in the use of Unified Communications and some new competition in the SIP phone market.
Our sales of soft phone licenses have also continued to increase. In the last 12 months, our most popular CounterPath Bria Stretto licenses have been for desktop and mobile devices. However, whilst sales of soft phone licenses are steadily increasing, we do not see them becoming a replacement to desk phones, they are quite often an additional option to many workers’ communication solutions for flexible and mobile working.
The most popular SIP phones for us at the moment are the mid-range models which would indicate that people want a reliable phone with some additional features. Popular mid-range phones in our product portfolio include: Snom D715, Yealink T46GN, Panasonic HDV230, VTech VSP725A and the Gigaset S650H DECT handset. In addition to this, we have also seen a sharp increase in the sales of accessories such as headsets, we believe this is not only reflective upon people’s working behaviours and the requirement for handsfree communication, but also that users are beginning to increase their phones functionality and utilising the additional features available.
As in previous years, we are experiencing some vendors reducing prices to win business from their competitors which has consequently decreased distributor and Channel margins. Post Brexit, we predict there will be some turbulence in pricing as all SIP phones are manufactured outside of the UK. That said, wherever possible ProVu will attempt to act as a buffer to volatile pricing.”
Distributor Nimans says that growth in IP and SIP telephony shows no sign of slowing for distributor Nimans where a 65% rise in demand has been generated. Local and Central Government and education are two of the most popular market sectors, with mid-range devices being deployed more than budget or high end telephones.
Ian Brindle, Head of Conferencing &Telephony Sales at Nimans says resellers should be aware of two distinct market segments; BroadSoft and SIP and also Skype For Business, where there’s generally a 50/50 split.
“Year-on-year our growth has gone through the roof. It’s currently running at 65% and as demand for cloud-based technology continues to rise then end points grow in tandem – further fuelled by exceptional levels of service,” he explained.
“We are working very closely with all the key vendors such as Microsoft, Polycom and Yealink, developing enhanced provisioning and reporting capabilities.
To further help resellers we are launching an enhanced ‘zero touch’ IP handset auto provisioning service to provide resellers with the ultimate choice. Resellers will be able to access their own virtual warehouse and also order Skype for Business handsets (ready to use) for the first time.”
Nimans already offers zero touch provisioning for Polycom and Yealink handsets and is hailing the latest service developments as a major step forward – part of a complete end-to-end management service designed to save resellers significant time and money.
Brindle concluded: “Mid-range devices such as Polycom’s VVX 400 series are the most popular segment with customers choosing a balance of price and performance.
Low end products tend to sit in public areas but any deskphone device tends to be mid-range. For example we’ve just completed a 3,000 handset deployment in education (with a reseller) and they were predominantly VVX 400’s.”
The company says – The Maxwell 10 offers a powerful all-in-one Business Media Phone with stunning High Definition 10.1 inch colour touchscreen and enhanced audio and video that can adapt to any business environment. Designed with the features of a high-end telephony platform, Maxwell 10 offers seamless access to quality business communication including Google Android applications such as email, web browsing and video conferencing. Flexible operation with connections for USB, Micro-SD, Bluetooth, HDMI, LAN, Wi-Fi, RJ-9 and electronic hook switch for use in any environment including cloud based telephony. It fits in any line of business.
Ron Cottaar at Gigaset pro comments, “The telephony market is still buoyant as more organisations complete the move to SIP based platforms, especially SME’s that are going through an upgrade cycle as ISDN and leased lines move aside for business broadband and FTC. UC is starting to generate real interest in the mid market as both partners and customers recognise that the cost to enable is relatively low while the benefits are substantial. Even with the growth of smartphones and 3G/4G – DECT is still proving popular especially in buildings where mobile coverage is down to zero and voice-quality is crucial for the business.”
Craig Herrett, COO at VoIPon Solutions, says that the IP Phone market is still strong in terms of products being manufactured and also products being sold.
“We are seeing continued growth in IP phone sales and the well-known brands continuing to grow with new models, such as Yealink, Grandstream etc. We are also seeing new and upcoming brands like Akuvox and Fanvil starting to make an impression on the market with their cost effective solutions.
Unified Communications has changed the demands users have within a desktop VoIP phone. A phone needs to be able to do more than make calls and forward them on to their colleagues. By making a desk phone a hub of communication, including phone calls, email, instant messaging, video calls, internet surfing etc., everything is simplified for the user. They don’t have to switch between devices for every type of communication they use. With these modern requirements, we are seeing desk phones with larger colour touchscreens and even use of Android and the Google Play Store. From here users can install Google Hangouts, Skype, and many other collaborative applications. We expect to see continued collaboration and interoperability between manufacturers as well, like the recent certification of Grandstream GXP21xx phones with the Broadsoft platform.
We are also seeing a migration to hosted PBX systems, in SMBs in particular. With cloud based telephony becoming more popular, it is important that both desk and softphones will be compatible with these systems. With VoIP on mobile devices becoming more common, we expect to see softphone usage increase. It is important in the modern business world that users are able to access their phone wherever they are in the world.
Auto Provisioning is also something we expect to see more of. Manufacturers such as Yealink, Sangoma and Akuvox are offering their own provisioning service, enabling the phones in a deployment to be automatically set up once they are connected to the network. This makes installations much simpler, saving a huge amount of time instead of individually setting up every phone.”
Roy Stephenson, SIP Brand Manager at Trust Distribution notes that we are witnessing times of change in our industry.
“With mergers, acquisitions, successes and failures taking place both in the worlds of service providers and phone manufacturers, the telecoms market could never be accused of standing still. There will be winners while others will disappear along the way. Ultimately, it is change that opens up the opportunities that drive the entrepreneurial spirit and technical development that carry us all forward, particularly in technology sectors like ours. Until now, SIP has consistently delivered the answers.
In uncertain times like these, buyers of phones will push to reduce costs more than ever before, yet at the same time they will still demand high quality products that are built to last, and which can keep up to speed with developing technology. They will also take extra care in picking strong, stable and trustworthy brands to partner with. For manufacturers and suppliers who can match those requirements, the near future could be much brighter than many are predicting.”
Trust says – New to the VTech SIP range, the VPS736A provides all the functions you would expect of a high-end SIP phone, and many more you wouldn’t. The on-board micro SD card slot allows you to record calls right on your desktop for quick and easy review. Built in DECT support means that you can add the EHS-enabled VSP500A cordless headset or VSP601A DECT handset. The VSP736A’s enhanced feature set includes OpenVPN client, xml and LDAP phonebooks, xml browser, and action URI. Compatibility with major hosted platforms, plus a range of secure auto-provisioning options and access to VTech’s redirection server make deployment of large numbers of phones speedy and efficient.
Trust says – A low-priced basic SIP phone, the VSP716A delivers all the functionality that businesses depend on, such as full duplex handsfree, a headset port, dual Ethernet ports and PoE support. Behind the entry-level exterior though, you will find the same advanced features that benefit the VSP736A too. With secure redirection and provisioning and a huge range of customisable options, all backed by a 3 year standard warranty, the VSP716A is aimed squarely at high-volume mass deployment, where cost, reliability, efficiency and flexibility all need to be taken into account.
Ed Says… The market for SIP phones continues to grow. Volumes are up but vendors are facing increasing competition from new entrants seeking to secure their own share of the market. Digital transformations and UC will continue to drive the market from the top down and likely increase the percentage of softphone variants at the expense of traditional desktop models.