While inside a building, the phones use an office's(VoIP) network. Once outside, though, they switch over to a cell phone network, Mitel Chief Operating Officer Paul Butcher said this week.
A U.S. carrier is interested in the device when it's ready for mass consumption, Butcher said. He added that the new phones will work first with an upgrade of Mitel's 5230 IP Appliance. The company wouldn't give an estimate of when the device will be ready.
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Mitel's effort is an example of the, a cheaper form of telephone calling that uses the Internet. Most cell phone handset makers plan to make similar hybrid phones, but Mitel is among the first strictly IP phone makers to commit to such a device.
Butcher said there's a demand for these hybrid phones because a common customer for both are businesspeople, who have already made the cell phone a staple and are predicted to take to VoIP with equal enthusiasm. "It's a natural fit," Butcher said.
Butis going about it the wrong way and at the wrong time, said Saied Seghatoleslami, vice president of Avaya, a Mitel rival. He said customers want phones that are good at basic tasks, not loaded with extra features that often are so filled with bugs they can turn people off to VoIP dialing entirely.
"It's an interesting concept, but the stuff that people really want is basic things, like a high-quality speakerphone," Seghatoleslami said.