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Nortel Networks' Business Communications Manager 50

This small business PBX has tons of bells and whistles, among them enabling access to hundreds of telephony features, but they'll cost you!

The Element Manager gives you access to hundreds of telephony features. Navigating it is easy, but data presentation is inefficient, and the interface lacks copy-and-paste functions for many tasks, making some simple configuration tasks tedious.

The BCM 50 offers a broad selection of more than 400 telephony features. Basic features, such as call transfer, call hold, DID (direct inward dialing), and intercom, are standard. Advanced licensed features include voicemail with auto-attendant, unified messaging, fax services, VoIP trunking and a basic call center supporting up to 10 active agents. I configured and tested each advanced feature and found they all work as advertised. The interactive displays on the advanced desktop phones enhance the end-user experience.

To IP or Not To IP

I confirmed Nortel's claim that the BCM 50 supports both TDM digital handsets and IP phones. The BCM 50 uses Nortel's proprietary UNISTIM signaling for its digital and IP handsets. Don't expect third-party IP/SIP phones to work unless they're compatible with the Nortel standard. Nortel says it will add SIP support in a future release.

Overall, I found that the BCM 50 offers a consistent user experience whether you're using an IP handset, a digital handset or a softphone.

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