Cisco talks up 'Net phone technology

Thu, 05/31/2001 - 8:00pm

Cisco Systems recently jazzed up its Internet-based phone technology with new Web surfing and speech recognition features, the latest effort by the networking giant to make old phone systems obsolete.

Cisco competes against 3Com, Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, and others in the emerging market for 'Net-based phone systems, which are a cheaper alternative and offer more features to businesses than traditional phone systems.

The market for 'Net-based phones and related equipment has begun to take off, and is one of several high-growth areas on which Cisco is focusing. A recent study found that the nascent market is expected to grow from $192.8 million in revenue in 2000 to $548 million this year, according to Synergy Research Group. The market for 'Net-based phone products should reach $3.9 billion by 2005, says Synergy.

Cisco, which is an early leader in 'Net-based phone products with a reported 62 percent market share, is releasing a half-dozen new products that it promised but had yet to deliver. Most of the products are available now or within the next month, according to Cisco executives.

The products include software that makes corporate headquarters and branch offices appear as if they're one phone system. Previous technology wouldn't allow people to do that, according to the company.

Cisco is also offering a 'Net-based phone system for small branch offices and a new version of its unified messaging software, which offers the ability to check voice mail, e-mail and faxes from a PC, phone or other device, says the company.


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