3Com is updating its NBX operating system and releasing four new IP phones.

Version 5.0 of 3Com's NBX operating system introduces more automatic call distributor (ACD) features for call centre apps, and advanced call and message features.

The new software lets up to 900 agents operate off of a 3Com NBX, with full call-centre capabilities such as call queuing and routing, the company said. Up to 100 call-centre management stations can also be deployed with the software. This lets managers listen in on calls taken by agents, interrupt calls for training purposes, or "whisper" into a call - where the agent can hear the manager's voice but the customer/caller on the outside line cannot. Version 5.0 also has built-in call centre reporting, which in the past required third-party software packages.

Version 5.0 is required in order to use the four new phones. Older phones also will work on the new platform.

Among the new handsets is the 3Com 3103 Manager IP phone, which includes a large LCD display for viewing directories or call logs. It also has a built-in, two-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, which lets a user connect a PC via Gigabit Ethernet to the phone, and then access a LAN from another switch port in the phone - thus requiring only one network cable at a user's desk.

Other new phones include the 3101, an entry-level model with minimal features, and two cordless IP phones that let users roam up to 1,000 feet with a 900-MHz handset, attached to a base unit that plugs into an Ethernet link and AC power plug. The 3107C cordless phone includes a speakerphone in the base station. 3Com's NBX competes with products from Avaya, Cisco and others.

The NBX 5.0 software costs $1,000, and the phones start at $100 for the 3101 and $365 for the 3103 Manager phone. The 3016C and 3107C are priced at $414 and $515, respectively.