Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Cisco Sees The Light On VoIP Protocol (Finally)

Cisco Systems' IP-based PBX system was the only major system still not supporting a standard protocol that would cut the cost of voice over IP and pave the way for a new generation of VoIP applications. That all changes this week, as mounting customer pressure and the standard's potential finally convinced Cisco to get behind the Session Initiation Protocol.

The network-equipment vendor has planned a set of announcements that have the Session Initiation Protocol at their core. In addition to a SIP-compliant CallManager 5.0, they include SIP capabilities for Cisco IP phones, presence-awareness software, and multimedia communications software.

The messaging protocol delegates how VoIP phones establish contact and use call waiting, among other things. It will let customers mix and match VoIP products from different vendors. Support in CallManager 5.0 should make it possible for a customer to choose a cheaper SIP-based alternative to Cisco's VoIP phones, which can cost upward of $500 apiece. Cisco plans to support Research In Motion's BlackBerry and forthcoming Nokia dual-mode phones with Call Manager 5.0, though just about any standard SIP-based phone from two dozen or so vendors should work with the IP PBX.

Best Possible Fit

Support from the world's largest network equipment vendor is a significant shot in the arm for SIP. Cisco's decision is applauded by Ruth Harenchar, CIO of legal staffing firm Hobart West Group, which runs its telecommunications system on Cisco's VoIP products. "With interoperability, it gives you the opportunity to look at the best possible fit, whether it's for cost or for something else," she says.

  • 1