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ShoreTel Targets Key Systems With New VoIP Features

ShoreTel on Monday launched a new attack on the installed base of key telephone systems with an upgrade to its IP telephony platform that adds fundamental key system functionality.

With ShoreTel 6.1 and a new lineup of IP phones, ShoreTel is going after small businesses and remote offices: traditional key system users that are reluctant to switch to a VoIP system that doesn’t support the features they’ve become accustomed to using, said Jeff Ridley, director of product management at ShoreTel, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Among the new features is bridged call appearance, which enables every phone in the office to see and interact with calls. For example a user could answer an incoming call and place it on hold, enabling a second user to pick up the call on a different handset.

“Anybody can walk over, see the call on hold and pick it up,” said Byron Stewart, principal and senior engineer at Stormwood, an Atlanta-based solution provider. “It’s a great addition and a great feature customers have been asking for and we as partners have been asking for.”

Another new feature, Centrex flash, provides trunk optimization that frees up analog trunks when calls are transferred to outside extensions or during conference calls. It can be a crucial feature for small businesses and branch offices that typically have only a handful of available trunks at any given time, Ridley said.

To better utilize the key system functionality, ShoreTel also launched IP 212k, a new $299 VoIP handset that features 12 programmable buttons to support multiple call appearances. It is scheduled to ship at the end of May.

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