Avaya is claiming both technical and price breakthroughs for a new version of its unified communications (UC) technology.

The company claimed that not only will it sell UC packages starting at under $100 (£50) per employee, but it has also developed an intelligent presence scheme which can combine information from third-party applications to determine just how 'available' other users actually are.

Based on the open Jabber extensible communcations platform (XMP), intelligent presence aggregates information from various sources. Initially these include Microsoft OCS, IBM Domino and Avaya's IP PBX, while links to others such as instant messaging apps and location services will come later, said Avaya solutions marketing manager Chris Barrow.

"What makes it smart is the availability rules engine," he said. This can combine the various data and add rules – for example, someone in a meeting, or whose phone is off the hook, might still count as available for certain types of communication. Similarly, a doctor might need to be available in circumstances where a marketing manager would not, Barrow added.

"On the other side is a set of web services, Java APIs and so on," he said. "The vision is for developers to take those and embed them in desktop applications, for example expert locator services. It's all about putting presence in context within the business."

He continued, "Presence today is not broken, but it is fragmented and is only aware of its own surroundings. The other thing is that to be truly useful it has to be always-on, because even if your PC is off, you still have your phone, your pager, and so on."

These new UC packages will be around 60 percent cheaper than Avaya's previous generation UC offerings, claimed Jirina Yates, the company's solutions marketing director. She said the key to the price reduction is that Avaya will offer standard UC packages

These will be pre-configured for specific needs, such as UC systems for teleworkers, retail banking or small businesses, and should require little or no integration work on-site, she added.

"The packaging is like shopping for groceries online," she said. "The first time you do it, you have to hunt for everything and it takes ages, but then the next time it's much quicker."