Impressions of Alcatel 4200

Main conclusion: Too much hardware—cables and buttons everywhere.

UI on phone vs. PC

My vision for PC/PBX integration is moving more of the user interface from the phone to the PC. The PC is a richer environment—mouse, large screen etc.—with established GUI standards for Windows programs, and for HTML pages. I can use a web page or an application that I've never seen in my life, but I don't even think of borrowing someone's mobile phone.

On the other hand, placing functions on the phone will certainly be faster, and more reliable, once you figure out how to use it.

Basic functions—such as receiving calls, and placing calls by typing a phone number—must stay on the phone, after all I'll have to call support when the PC fails. But more sophisticated functions should be on the PC: my ability to actually figure out how to use them, by far outweights the risk of the PC being unavailable.

Switchboard operators and other phone professionals should have phones with programmable buttons for the functions they use heavily. But the office rats should have ordinary phones, with the fancy stuff on the PC.

(The TEDACO add-on products are more in line with my philosophy than the core Alcatel product is.)

The PIMphony Cable

A phone is connected to the PBX. The PC is connected to the LAN. When we connect the PBX to the LAN, that creates a connection between the phone and the PC. So why does PIMphony use an extra cable to connect the phone and the PC directly?

Public Caller Identification

If I type a telephone number at, I get the name of the caller. There should be some way to integrate that in the system: Having the name show up in the phone or PC display.

Convergent Messages

Can the 4200 send me an SMS (or WAP Service Indication) when a call to me failed? Forward telefax or voicemail as email? Have the answering machine answer with an SMS message when the calling party uses a GSM phone?

Supporting Nomadic Cubicle Rats

In some organizations, people no longer have have their own desk, they move around. The system should detect what IP I use to log on to NT, and route my phone calls to the nearest phone.

DECT Handsets

DECT handsets must be integrated in GSM handsets—only a nerd carries two phones around.

Emergency Calls

You should be able to make emergency calls without knowing anything about the local system. If I know that the emergency number is 112, calling that number should work. If I know I have to use 0 to get an external line, 0w112 should also work. Having a special group of short numbers for emergency calls just doesn't cut it. The caller may be confused, and have stumbled into the premises for the first time 30 seconds ago. The staff is killed by sarin gas. Who you're gonna call?

The Smith Inc. Animation

The "Smith Inc." animation did show a diagram with a proxy server short circuiting the firewall.

Jan Egil Kristiansen
Current version at