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The New Linksys IP-PBX

Linksys' Sipura team has developed a very cool IP-PBX that will support 4-16 stations per box. I got to see it a few weeks back, but protected the embargo, waiting for the press release to move.

Linksys developed this new PBX based on the smarts from Sipura who came over in the 2005 acquisition. Like PhoneGnome, it's based on that SIPURA ATA technology, but with a lot of multi-line new and cool technology wrapped around it.

In many ways the concept reminded me of the Merlin system that AT&T rolled out right after divestiture back in the 80s as that took business away from the Bell's Centrex platform. Well with this new system Linksys is looking to take business away from telcos current PBX business by moving it all to IP. That's smart.

To sell it, Linksys has lined up VARs around the world (1000 or so at last count) and plans of working with them to deliver and install the equipment. That could be one of two Achilles heals with it though. Since most on premise networks in small business are running DSL, and with the bandwidth of DSL lines on average 256k on the upload, once you get past two or three simultaneous calls, add in a big file upload or download there comes the need for more bandwidth. And there comes the second rub in my mind.

While the VAR's may be good at installs, VoIP is a different animal, so Linksys will have to really train and manage that channel the way parent CISCO does their reseller network. If Linksys can do that, they they have a winner. But if the VAR's don't work the way Cisco's do, then this really neat and market needed device may not get the traction it needs.

Bottom line is I think Linksys' team has something that will sell well, be it through the VARs or even CDW, Staples or Office Max. The IP-PBX's launch is well timed and sorely needed. But since Linksys is not selling the end user's overall experience that the VARs create, they will need to make sure they have that potential land-mine in check. Based on my meeting and what I heard, I think they will, but like all things VoIP, time will tell.