If you build it….

August 29, 2008 by Garrett Smith

iLocus has an interesting story this morning concerning BT’s adoption of DECT enabled ATA devices.

DECT as a technology with obvious implications for consumer VoIP has been getting its fair share of press lately, and for good reason.

Relative mobility is a “must-have” for many residential phone users, and traditional ATAs which limit connectivity options to tethering traditional analog phones via FXS ports is getting pretty stale.

Many VoIP service providers, including Vonage, have at one time or another offered SIP enabled WiFi phones as a mobility option for their residential users, but have quickly dumped WiFi technology because of the inherent technology issues and support overhead that currently plagues them.

I have been trying to coax a handful of established VoIP CPE manufacturers to develop and release a low-cost, DECT enabled ATA device for the US marketplace for almost 2 years, and nobody has stepped up to the plate to deliver it just yet.

How about a device similar to the Linksys SPA-3102, but with more ethernet ports onboard.

An IAD device with (1) integrated FXS port, (1) onboard FXO port, (1) WAN port and router, a 4 port switch, and integrated DECT base station to which you can wirelessly connect up to 3 DECT handsets.

There you have a very versatile, relatively “plug and play” device that can serve as a primary WAN router for DSL or Cable customers (make it easy to disable the router/DHCP functionality so the device can happily co-exist with an ISP provided access router) , has a traditional FXS port for an analog phone or fax over IP…..plus an FXO port for PSTN failover if the WAN goes down….a 4 port switch to share the internet connection with other devices on the LAN…..and finally a DECT radio to manage up to 3 mobile handsets. Now make the whole package available to consumers and service providers at an MSRP of around $99.95 and $39.95 for each additional DECT handset (up to 3 total).

I think you’d have a winner there. VoIP CPE manufacturers, feel free to take that idea and run with it.


  • Rupa Schomaker

    While not at the price point you list and not an ATA, the Snom M3 is a pretty good DECT solution for SIP. Up to 8 handsets all of which can share an account or be configured for different accounts (or any combination thereof). Supports up to 3 simultaneous conversations. Street price is ~$150 for base station and a handset. each additional handset is around $120.

  • Cory Andrews

    Rupa – I agree that Snom M3 is a compelling product, and I am a big fan of it. I just wish there was something aimed squarely for those doing residential VoIP service deployments, at a low price point, that encompassed ATA functionality and also leveraged DECT.

  • One wonders about the accessibility of DECT chipsets. What you are describing in your ideal SMB IAD is very much like an Asterisk appliance with an on-board DECT radio.

    The new Jazinga appliance sports Wifi already. I wonder if DECT could be refit into the box. For that matter, can DECT and Wifi radios coexist in the same box?

    Wifi certainly has the edge on the data side, but DECT is the hands-down winner for cordless telephony.

    The m3 has really won my favor in recent months. Given that it’s made by RTX perhaps they might have some interest in the kind of converged device you describe.

  • Layton Davis

    I know you guys strongly favor DECT phones. But what happens if you need to have mobile access over an area that spans a half mile or more? or what happens if you need a mobile device that will connect in several different locations separated by many miles?

    I know that WI-FI can deal with these situations with a little ingenuity and planning in setting up access points. What would be required to make a DECT handset work in the same environment?

  • I believe the device you want is already being widely used in Europe. It is sold by Orange under the name “Livebox.” In Spain, for example, it is a €39 option when ordering DSL service (http://www.orange-adsl.com). In addition to all the features you want, it also has a TV output jack, in case your carrier supports TV over IP. I believe that Orange OEMs this piece of equipment from Thomson (owners of Philips among many other companies). I guess it’s just a matter of letting Thomson know that we want the same feature set on this side of the pond as well. By the way, I have a few friends at Thomson Grass Valley if you’re interested in making contact, and if that fails, I suppose you could always go on Ebay (Spain, France, UK, etc.) and get a used Livebox there.

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