Organizational Factors | Wireless PBXs

A tendency among many companies is that they change frequently in both structure and function. In fact, continuous change is looked upon as good because it keeps the organization in step with changing customer needs and market directions. Wireless PBX communications systems can go a long way in support of such dynamic work environments.
Add a Note HereOther companies are reluctant to experiment with more flexible organizational structures because of the perceived lack of communication that might result. With too many people away from their desks, chaos would surely reign. Wireless technology can break down this resistance to change by ensuring access to all people and all information, regardless of their in-building location.
Add a Note HereWith regard to work processes and organizational structure, the types of situations that lend themselves to the adoption of wireless PBX technology are those:

§  Where the business function is fluid and workers are mobile much of the time.
§  Where mobility presently inhibits the quality and timeliness of responses or transaction completion, which often results in missed opportunities, deadlines, or objectives.
§  Where the time spent in setting up temporary network connections or the delay in returning missed calls can be dramatically reduced.
§  Where organizational structure is flat rather than hierarchical and, as a consequence, more workers have decision-making authority, flexible work schedules, and job autonomy.
Add a Note HereThere is also a psychological impact to consider. In today's downsized work environment, where fewer employees are expected to do more, stress levels have never been higher. Employees are most likely to experience frustration and stress when they cannot reach someone they are trying to contact, especially when the people they need to talk with affects their ability to get the job done. A wireless PBX can greatly improve the availability of employees and result in a less stressful and more productive workplace.
Add a Note HereMore than productivity is at stake. Business can be lost as well. If customers cannot reach their contacts within the organization in a timely manner, they may look elsewhere to fulfill their needs. With customer response becoming a key differentiator in the service sector of the economy, a wireless PBX can play a key role in cementing customer loyalty.
Add a Note HereDespite the apparent advantages promised by intra-company mobile communications, it is important to understand that the use of unlicensed spectrum for wireless PBXs does not guarantee the same reliability and availability as wireline systems. Currently, unlicensed devices must accept any interference received, potentially impairing their use. For this reason, some vendors of wireless equipment are asking the FCC for a new class of unlicensed service that would have protection against harmful interference. This class would retain the cost advantages and deployment simplicity of the current applications and, in addition, have protection against harmful interference from services in other bands, and services sharing the same band. Unlicensed operation in exclusive-use frequency allocations, as well as those designated primary in a band, would be eligible for this class. At this writing, the FCC is still considering whether a new unlicensed class of service in the 1920-MHz PCS band is warranted.


Wireless Centrex

A number of value-added services are available through wireless Centrex. Pacific Bell's Wireless Centrex, for example, combines a existing Centrex Service with Ericsson's Freeset Business Wireless Telephone system to create a private, wireless environment at a company's business location without incurring expensive cellular airtime charges. At the corporate facility multiple, overlapping cells cover assigned areas. The number of cells required is determined by traffic density at a given location.

An on-premises system called the Radio Exchange handles such functions as powering, control, and facilities for connection to Centrex. Base Stations relay calls from the Radio Exchange to the Portable Telephones. Each Base Station provides multiple simultaneous speech channels. The coverage of each Base Station depends on the character of the environment, but it is typically between 8000 and 15,000 square feet. Portable Telephones contain the intelligence needed to accommodate roaming and cell-to-cell handover.

When the Radio Exchange receives an incoming call, it transmits the identification signal of a Portable Telephone to all Base Stations. Because the Portable Telephone communicates with the nearest Base Station, even in standby mode, it receives the signal and starts ringing. When the call is answered, the Portable Telephone selects the channel with the best quality transmission.

Pacific Bell's Wireless Centrex service gives business users full wireless mobility, plus the following options:

  • Account codes
  • Authorization codes
  • Automatic callback
  • Automatic recall
  • Call diversion/call forwarding
  • Call diversion override
  • Call hold
  • Call transfer
  • Call waiting
  • Call pickup
  • Speed calling
  • Call park
  • Conference/three-way calling
  • Remote access to network services
  • Distinctive/priority ringing
  • Do not disturb
  • External call forwarding
  • Executive intrusion/executive busy override
  • Individual abbreviated dialing/single digit dialing
  • Speed dialing
  • Last number redial
  • Loudspeaker paging
  • Message waiting indication
  • Remote access to subscriber features
  • Select call forwarding


Wireless PBXs

Wireless phones have become a common sight in recent years, with cordless handsets in use in the home and cell phones mounted in vehicles and carried around in purses and briefcases. Lower-cost handsets are more portable, offer better connections and wider coverage, and longer battery life. All this, plus improved service quality, have led to millions of people taking advantage of mobile communications. The success of mobile communications has led to a revolution in office communications.
With office workers spending increasing amounts of time away from their desks—supervising various projects, working at temporary assignments, attending meetings, and just walking corridors—there is a growing need for wireless technology to help them stay in touch with colleagues, customers, and suppliers. According to various industry estimates, as much as 75 percent of all workers are mobile, spending significant amounts of time away from their desks. This lack of communication can adversely impact personal and organizational performance. The idea behind the wireless PBX is to facilitate communication within the office environment, enabling employees to be as productive while moving about as they would if they were sitting at their desk.
Almost any organization can benefit from improved communications offered by a wireless PBX system, especially those engaged in:

§  Manufacturing. Roving plant managers or factory foremen do not have to leave their inspection or supervisory tasks to take important calls.
§  Retail. Customers can contact in-store managers directly, eliminating noisy paging systems.
§  Hospitality. Hotel event staff can stay informed of guest needs and respond immediately.
§  Security. Guards can relay emergency information quickly and clearly, directly to the control room or police department without trying to reach a desktop phone.
§  Business. Visiting vendors or customers have immediate usage of preassigned phones without having to borrow employee desktop phones.
§  Government. In-demand office managers can be available at all times for instant decision making.
Wireless PBX technology differs from other forms of mobile communications. Unlike cellular phone service, for example, there is no charge for air time. While cellular is a high-powered system designed primarily for high-speed use in cars, wireless PBX is used indoors and the mobile phones get better reception and longer battery life—up to 6 hours of talk time or 60 hours of standby time on a single charge.
When fully integrated into an existing PBX or Centrex system, all of the special call handling features are preserved. With Ericsson's Freeset system, for example, the wireless capability can be added to virtually any key, hybrid, PBX, or Centrex system to provide an integrated facility running both wired and wireless extensions. Mobile users have access to the same functions and features of the host system to which they are ultimately connected via the adjunct switch, such as caller identification, extension dialing, speed dialing, conferencing, hold, transfer, programmable buttons, and voice messaging. Another feature, call screening, gives users the control to effectively screen all calls before deciding to answer, or to distinguish an important call from one that is not important. The handset's built-in display screen shows the caller's name or number on incoming calls.
Some vendors offer applications development toolkits to bring value-added features to their wireless PBX systems. Nortel, for example, offers an open interface for wireless communications and computer-telephony integration (CTI) via its Companion Applications Toolkit. Using Nortel's Companion Applications Toolkit, developers can write PC applications such as database queries and fax and e-mail interfaces that mobile workers can access via their Companion portable telephones. An application can be initiated from either the portable telephone or a desktop PC. More than 100 PC-based applications can interact with one or more portable phone sets and all applications can reside on a single PC.
Under ideal conditions, mobile users have the same digital voice quality as conventional PBX users. Even the charges for outgoing calls are integrated into the same billing process as desktop phones. Wireless PBX also provides seamless communication throughout the building, including hard-to-reach places like elevators, tunnels, or parking garages.
Wireless PBX operates in a variety of frequency bands, including the unlicensed 1910- to 1930-MHz Personal Communications Services (PCS) band. The term "unlicensed" refers to the spectrum that is used with equipment which can be bought and deployed without FCC approval because it is not part of the public radio spectrum. In other words, since wireless PBX operates over a dedicated frequency for communication within a very narrow geographical area, it has little chance of interfering with other wireless services in the surrounding area. Consequently, there is no need for frequency coordination or FCC licensing. The individual channels supported by the wireless PBX system are spaced far enough apart to prevent interference with each other. Privacy is enhanced through the use of digital speech encoding and continuous frequency hopping to make eavesdropping nearly impossible.
The capacity of wireless PBX systems is easily expanded—portable telephones and base stations are added as needed—up to the maximum capacity offered by the vendor's particular system. Likewise, the coverage of wireless PBX systems can be expanded through the strategic placement of base stations and distribution hubs. While single-zone coverage up to 500,000 square feet effectively covers most office buildings, the addition of base stations and distribution hubs can achieve multizone coverage of up to 12 million square feet for a campus environment.
Substantial savings can accrue over time through the elimination of traditional phone moves, adds, changes. There is also significant savings in cabling, since there is less need to rewire offices and other locations for desktop telephones. This is significant because companies typically spend between 10 and 20 percent of the original cost of their PBX annually on reconfiguring the system.

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