Monthly Archives: February 2005

Wireless Headset Functions

Just a quick note – some people ask us whether they can use phone functions from their wireless headset (like a Plantronics CS10, CS50 or GN Netcom 9120).

The short answer? No.

If you’re using a cordless headset, you can answer remotely (using an optional Handset Lifter like the Plantronics HL10 or GN 1000), but that’s about it. You can’t transfer calls to another extension or make a call because those are functions of the telephone, not of the headset.

If you’re in a home office situation and only have a single line, you might consider getting a complete headset phone system like the Plantronics CT12, CT11 or CT10 (Ed. Note: the CT10 is discontinued). The CT12 provides call display and 2.4 GHz DSS (Digital Spread Spectrum) technology. The CT11 is a 2.4 GHz model and the CT10 is a 900 MHz model.

More on frequencies in a later post . . .

Panasonic phones and wireless headsets

We get asked every now and then if a particular wireless headset will work with their phone system. Simple answer: yes. However, it gets more complicated than that (of course).

You see, wireless headsets are often used with Handset Lifters. These devices pick up the handset for you when you press a button on your headset, allowing you to answer a call when you’re away from your phone.

NOTE: you can not make a phone call, or transfer a call that you’ve answered from your cordless headset. That’s a function of the phone. If you want to make a phone call or transfer a call, you have to go back to your phone to do so. That’s true with ALL wireless headsets.

Now, interesting thing I learned today. Norstar phones work seamlessly with your wireless headset, but other phones, such as Panasonic, may require you to program the phone so that the wireless headset will work properly.

A Norstar phone rings “hot” (according to one of our technicians), which means that when a phone rings, no matter what line it rings on, when you pick up the handset, you pick up the line that’s ringing.

A Panasonic phone doesn’t automatically ring “hot”. If the phone requires you to press a button as well as pick up the handset to answer a call, it’s not ringing “hot” and will need to be reprogrammed if you want to use it with a wireless headset /handset lifter combination.

Just an interesting note I thought I’d pass along.

No, I don’t know how to reprogram your Panasonic phone. Remember, I’m just a newbie!

Digital vs. Analog and Conference Phones

What can I say. I’m a newbie.

I got a request yesterday from a fellow who had a Nortel phone system who wanted to be able to use the Polycom SoundStation 2.

So I think – yeah – that’s easy. Just unplug the meridian phone in the conference room and replace it with the SoundStation. Easy as pie, right?


PBX systems send a digital signal to the phones that connect to them. Most audio conferencing units are analog, and therefore incompatible with the PBX system.

So, whaddya do about it?

Easy – for Nortel and other digital PBXs, you can order the SoundStation Premier and get a great sounding conference phone that will actually work on your system.

Apparently there is another option where you can purchase a digital to analog phone line converter. Polycom makes what they call the SoundStation Intelligent Terminal Adapter which will allow you to connect your SoundStation to any digital PBX.

Of course, whenever possible, the better option is to purchase the right product which is designed to seamlessly integrate into your PBX system.

Just in case anyone was interested.

Long Range Wireless Phone Antenna

Interesting thing I learned today as a result of my little note about long range wireless phones and how the numbers stack up.

I heard from our Voyager long range wireless phone rep who had chanced to go through the article. He said that if you’re looking to increase inside range, it’s usually better to mount the base unit as high as possible. Or if you’re going to use an external antenna indoors, you should still try to mount it in the proper orientation instead of upside down. He said that since the signal radiates out and down, you want to have the signal coming from as high as possible to maximize its strength. He also estimated that using an outdoor antenna can increase the range of a Voyager phone by 30~200%, depending on your specific applications.

Very important note – radio / wireless telecommunications products (including wireless Internet) are always affected by the environment they’re installed in as well as HOW they’re installed.

Anyway, interesting stuff to know. Thanks Ken! (He’s probably cringing that I’ve paraphrased him here. . .)

I also learned a few things about 900 MHz vs 2.4 GHz DSS frequencies. Interesting stuff – for a later post.

The Amazing Avaya IP Office

I can’t begin to believe the presentation we just had on Avaya’s IP Office VoIP / Hybrid phone systems. Talk about convergence.

Yes – the “C” word. Some people argue that convergence never works. Take the combination VCR/TV units that represented “convergence” in that industry. Never really took off, did they? But the things Avaya’s IP Office can do are simply amazing, considering how much the systems cost.

I can’t even begin to go into it here, but what I learned today sent my head spinning from the possibilities. Really – it makes systems from Norstar and Mitel look like yesterday’s products. It’s THAT powerful. No matter whether you are using it even AT HOME, for a SOHO, small or medium enterprise or 500+ users, the hardware and software combined give you amazing abilities to manage how you communicate, improve your customer service and give you the flexibility to use VoIP services to truly provide convergence in your telecommunications requirements.

All that being said, now it’s my job to sort it all out and start putting information onto the Telephone Magic website.

Now my head’s really spinning . . .

Numbers Numbers – what do they really mean?

I’m not a numbers guy. (Just ask my bookkeeper.) Oh sure, I understand 2-for-1, 50% off and all that stuff, but when it comes to figuring out how far I can go with a cordless phone, that’s another story.

Telephone Magic sells long range wireless phones from EnGenius and Voyager. With the Voyager long range wireless phones, they give you an idea how far you can go (i.e. 1 to 6 miles, up to 25 miles or up to 50 miles). Cool. That’s easy – even for a kid who was brought up on the metric system in Canada and never had to work with miles, pounds etc.

But the EnGenius numbers were more confusing because they didn’t spell things out in what I consider “plain English”.

What do these numbers mean to you?

Up to 250,000 sq. ft. coverage in factories and buildings

Up to 12 floors penetration in office buildings

Up to 3,000 acres of coverage on ranches and farms

I don’t know what that really means, because frankly, I have no idea how big 250,000 sq. ft. really is. I don’t work in a place that’s 250,000 sq. ft. in area. I get the 12 floors of penetration in office buildings, but since I don’t work in a huge office building, that statistic isn’t particularly helpful. How big is an acre, anyway?

Well, I got thinking about those numbers, so I thought I’d figure them out, because it was bothering me.

First of all, you have to think about this particular long range wireless phone – or any other long range wireless phone, for that matter.

Long range wireless phones can be hooked up to your office’s PBX OR work on a regular analog line, making them suitable for home or office use. They have a base station and a handset and it’s the distance away from the handset you can go that’s important, in my opinion.

250,000 square feet is a square with sides 500 ft long. However, the signal from the base unit from a long range cordless phone is going to radiate outward, so a circle is a more representative way to think about the area of coverage. So, how far away from the base unit does 250,000 square feet represent?

Well, the area of a circle is calculated by pi r square (sorry, I haven’t figured out how to do complex mathematical formulas in this format yet). Pi is usually represented by 3.14 and r is the radius – which is the number we’re looking for.

So, the radius of the circle is equivalent to the square root of the area divided by pi.

With an area of 250,000 square feet, the radius works out to 282 ft.

So, in a factory or office building, you should be able to go 282 ft away from the base unit with an EnGenius long range cordless phone.

Now, this is confusing, because I’ve seen places online that report up to 1/2 mile range with the same phone in a city environment (2640 ft)…so which figure are we supposed to use? Maybe it’s the farm figure.

Okay – second figure – up to 3,000 acres coverage on ranches or farms.

An acre is 43,560 sq. ft., so 3,000 acres is 130,680,000 sq. ft.

Doing the same math as above, the radius of a circle with an area of 3,000 acres is 6600 ft, or 1.25 miles.

Okay, so I got the numbers figured out, but I just wanted to make sure, so I called up EnGenius and spoke to a sales rep about the numbers, and learned a few interesting things.

The fellow’s name (which sorry, I didn’t catch), said that they get clients who can’t get 50 feet out of their phones, and others who can get 14 km on them. Quite a variation.

The causes of variation are many. There could be a lot of electrical interference from other electronics in the area near the base unit. Trees, lots of metal in building frames and other factors work to decrease long range wireless phone range.

The EnGenius sales rep talked about how one client in Western Canada in the mountains gets around 14 km range (that’s about 8.7 miles) with his SN-920 phone because he’s in the middle of nowhere and he stays pretty much within line of sight of his base unit (or at least the building the antenna’s located on).

So, in short, expect a lot of variation in range with a long range wireless phone.

Oh – speaking of antennas – the external EnGenius antenna increases range between 5~10% according to this rep. Some people even take the outdoor antenna, flip it over and mount it upside-down from the ceiling to increase the signal strength indoors. Interesting concept that I hadn’t heard of before.

Now, Voyager phones (remember them from the beginning?) are marketed strictly in terms of range. 1~6 miles for their base model and up from there. You have to keep in mind though, that some of their models are not approved for use in North America.

So, there’s my effort to educate myself about how far you can go with a long range wireless phone.

If you want, click here to learn more about the long range wireless phones we carry.