Open standards and the ability to deploy advanced telephony applications on existing PBXs could mean the end of the gravy-train for the IP telephony (IPT) vendors, according to TeleWare.

The company has just launched release 10 of its Intelligent eXchange IPT switch, which runs on a standard PC server and no longer needs expensive add-in telephony cards, unlike previous versions.

This is thanks to the use of SIP, the session initiation protocol, and brings the total cost down to £25,000, says TeleWare marketing manager Gavin Hunter. "We've purchased our own SIP stack, so all we need is the server and a NIC," he says, arguing that this pulls the rug from under existing IPT vendors such as Cisco and Nortel.

"IPT today is highly proprietary," he says. "You don't get a choice of handsets, for example, and they say 'If you want our voicemail, you have to have our infrastructure too'. "There's already SIP handsets coming into Europe sub-100 euro. I think the IPT manufacturer would be well advised to move to open standards, and the open standard of choice is SIP."

However, business migration to IP telephony could also be delayed by the latest version of TeleWare's Intelligent Office platform, which allows advanced communications tools to be deployed on traditional telephone switches.

The new software adds support for interactive voice response (IVR) applications, including automatic speech recognition and text to speech capabilities. It also features unified messaging and conference calling, regardless of connection.

"It's a myth that you have to have IPT to do unified communications," says Hunter. He adds by bridging the IPT and PBX environments, TeleWare allows organisations to move to IPT piecemeal, and without being forced onto a lowest-common-denominator set of features.

TeleWare's graphical interface makes it simpler to build telephony functions such as IVR into application programs, allowing for information services that such as announcements and voice and fax routing. "Every call that comes in is both a cost and a transient asset," Hunter says. "So it's really about getting each call to the right level in the organisation."