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Unified Communications (UC) FAQ

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Jabra_750_womenWhat is Unified Communications (UC)

Q. What is Unified Communications?
A. Unified Communications (UC) is an extension of voice/data convergence and describes a situation in which technologies such as voice, email and instant messaging are integrated and presented to the user via a single intuitive user interface. UC also includes new applications such as ‘presence’ and ‘click-to-dial”.

Q. Who supplies UC systems?
A. UC systems/applications are manufactured by two types of vendors: IT/software companies like Microsoft and IBM; and phone/network companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens etc.
see Plantronics Softphone Compatibility Guide for more information.

Q. Why are headsets important?
A. Good UC Headsets have a massive impact on the Unified Communications user-experience, so it makes sense to choose a good one! Experience superior sound. The most obvious reason for this is to experience the greatly enhanced call clarity offered by UC. Anyone who has struggled with a cheap PC headset for VoIP will understand why this is so important! While traditional telephony is transmitted in the narrowband frequency range (300 Hz – 3,600 kHz), most UC systems support wideband frequency response – up to 6,800 KHz, for optimum call clarity. To enjoy this feature, you need a headset with full wideband audio capabilities.

Q. What is the difference between IP telephony and UC?
A. Voice/data convergence is the integration of all traffic types, which may include voice, data and video, onto a single IP network. UC is an extension of voice/data convergence and also includes applications like presence and click to dial. It is important to stress that enterprises who have adopted voice/data convergence solutions have not necessarily also invested in the full feature set of UC.

Q. Which benefits does UC give the user?
A. Users will experience enhanced freedom and comfort as they can work anywhere and still have access to all business critical data (phone numbers, email addresses, etc). It’s easy to keep in contact with colleagues no matter where you are, when all applications are integrated into a single interface, including fixed and mobile voice, e-mail, instant messaging, desktop applications and voice over IP (VoIP). A presence indicator, connected to applications such as your calendar and Email, gives real time updates on your status and availability to colleagues and vice versa.

Q. Which benefits does UC give the company?
A. One of the things that make UC so attractive is that it facilitates collaboration. The combination of a common interface and the improved sound quality of wideband headsets increases the sense of proximity, regardless of location. This benefits green business initiatives such as working from home and remote cooperation between virtual teams. Moreover, the ability to communicate using any device from any location can turn ‘wasted’ moments into productive ones.

Q. What is the role of the personal computer in UC?
A. UC is defined as the ability to manage all communications, whether it is voice, email, fax or instant messaging, through one user interface. UC vendors with IT/Software heritage are positioning the personal computer as the place where enterprise workers (especially mobile centric workers) manage all their communications.

Q. What is the role of desk phones in UC?
A. UC vendors with tradition in PSTN/Voice are positioning the desk phone as the place where enterprise workers manage all their communications.

Q. What is the role of PDA s & mobile phones in UC?
A. All UC vendors (both the PC-centric and the phone-centric) work with mobile phone manufacturers to ensure that their UC user interface is available on leading mobile device platforms.

Q. What is the role of the Internet in UC?
A. All UC systems are based on IP telephony to give users access to their business critical data from any location.

Q. What is the role of headsets in UC?
A. For personal computer-centric UC vendors, headsets represent high-quality, low cost end points, which complete the end-to-end voice solution. Multi-use headsets which bridge the gap between the traditional desk phone, the mobile phone/device and the personal computer are seen as especially beneficial to worker productivity. Many UC vendors require wideband audio quality to enable the true sound of their UC systems.

Q. Can I use my existing headset for UC?
A. Yes, if it is compatible with the UC system. In most cases a wideband headset is required to get the full UC audio experience.

Q. Can you use desk phones for UC?
A. Yes, some manufacturers produce desk phones that enable the user to manage all their communications using the desk phone user interface.

Q. What is the difference between UC soft phones and normal soft phones?
A. While a normal soft phone is a stand-alone application, the UC soft phone is integrated with other applications such as email, calendar, presence and voice mail.

Q. How does a noise-canceling microphone work?
A. It filters out unwanted background noise, by differentiating between sounds that come from nearby sources, such as the person talking, and ones that are further away. The distant sounds are then eliminated, thus providing crystal clear communications. In order to work properly, it’s important that the noise-canceling microphone be positioned close to the mouth (approximately 2 cm/less than 1 inch).

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