Cisco's SoftPhone brings together voice, video and data

Cisco's SoftPhone brings together voice, video and data

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

NOV. 21'IP telephony is just starting to appear on government WANs, and Cisco Systems Inc. is betting that so-called soft telephony on notebook PCs will be one of the early arrivals.

The San Jose, Calif., networking company is selling converged voice, video and data services for enterprise WANs under its Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data. AVVID telephony requires a Cisco Catalyst switch, CallManager software and IP handset units, which cost about the same as analog desk phones used with private branch exchanges.

But the IP SoftPhone software runs on notebook PCs under Microsoft Windows. It maintains the user's extension even over dial-up connections. It can also work with a PC and an IP desk phone to control connections, identify callers and deflect calls to voice mail.

Besides performing the usual phone functions, the SoftPhone stores call records, public phone directories, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol 3 directories and personal numbers, which the user drags and drops to make calls. To set up a teleconference, the user drops the participants' directory entries into a virtual conference room for collaborating on applications under Microsoft NetMeeting. The software plays .WAV sound files to simulate a dial tone.

SoftPhone requires Windows 9x, NT or 2000; a 166-MHz or faster Pentium processor; a full-duplex sound card; a headset microphone for standalone use, and 40M of free storage.

More information appears at

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