Better Support for DECT VoIP Handsets
With DECT becoming more popular for business, cordless handsets can now be provisioned like desktop phones with their own button assignments.
Believe it or not, DECT is not dead. As a matter of fact, it’s actually becoming more popular than ever in many businesses. Even though it’s a standard originally set in the 1980s, it continues to defend its position as a reliable mobile technology; DECT has its own spectrum and uses low power, which makes it easy to build affordable, reliable devices for voice communications in buildings.
There are multiple reasons why DECT is expanding in businesses. Let’s be honest: WLAN in large buildings isn’t always ready for voice – this is where DECT is a much better solution. And mobile phones are personal items, and both employees and employers are hesitant to install a business app on their private devices, especially employees working in hotels, restaurants and large buildings such as big box stores and warehouses. Multicell devices have become widely available and can be deployed with ease, which makes them popular with SMBs requiring between 10 and 200 handsets in a building. Single cell deployments have become easy and reliable, which reduces troubleshooting costs for installations at small businesses.
Even though our Vodia PBX was designed for running on a public IP address from day one, it also gives you excellent on premise performance, making it a natural fit for DECT installations. The Vodia IOP is ideal for running the PBX in a private network if you don’t want to run a whole server just for the PBX; together with a DECT base station, this will give you everything you need to run a powerful, robust communication solution.
We’ve been using the MAC address as the device identifier at Vodia from the beginning. It’s now time to expand from here and look at the IPEI (“International Portable Equipment Identity”), the device identifier for a DECT handset. The IPEI only has ten digits, far fewer than MAC. We took the liberty of writing the addresses similar to MAC addresses, separated by semicolons – when entering the IPEI you can, as with the MAC addresses, leave the semicolon out if you wish.
With the IPEI, every handset can have its own set of parameters – independent of the base station. For example, the new Snom Pro series supports assigning buttons as we did with the MAC-based devices; because we can have multiple devices per base station, this information needs to be stored in a separate record. In this structure, additional attributes are available, including a descriptive name, a vendor and the model and software version number (we haven’t yet figured out how to read it from the registration request, but we will). Every IPEI needs to be assigned to an extension, and extensions can manage the assignment of multiple IPEI. In the web interface, it looks like this:
As with the MAC, we have a list of all available IPEI in the tenant environment. Instead of adding a new page, we simply added another tab in the VoIP phone page and renamed the entire page “device management.” The table below shows if buttons were assigned to the device. Buttons, like desktop phones, work with templates assigned to all devices with the same vendor and model name.
Our first integration with the new IPEI is with the Snom M500. When you assign a DECT handset to the base station, the provisioning template will automatically place the IPEI in the XML: there is a parameter for automatic registration of the handsets for the M500, with its default set to yes; when you plug the device in, it automatically registers itself to the base station.
You might notice the new placeholder snom-m500-buttons. The PBX will automatically insert the buttons assigned to the handset. The M55, for example, can have up to six “programmable function keys.” Unfortunately, there is no BLF available for the DECT handsets. This reduces most of its functionality to speed dials and DTMF. You can, however, use the Snom mode to generate any content.
The devices have an interesting mode for monitoring other DECT devices called dect busy monitoring. This mode expects the handset number on the parameter – you can use this mode by selecting the Snom special mode and using the parameter and label field to provide the content to be sent to the device. The labels aren’t available on the device, but this might be something we see in future firmware updates from snom (it’s on our wishlist).
At Vodia, what we’re really about is constant development and a thirst for innovation with a mission to bring SMBs and enterprises the finest phone system available anywhere. Get in touch with us – firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 (617) 861-3490.
The IPEI feature didn’t make it into the 69.0.0 build, but it is part of the 69.0.2 build. We will step-by-step work on adding more of the DECT handsets into the IPEI device list over the next few months. We want to make it so deploying DECT handsets is as easy as deploying MAC-based devices, if not easier!
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