Making lemons into lemonade

Phybridge is a Canadian startup (founded May 2007) aiming to solve some of the problems of VoIP implementation. Its premise is that in many cases, an organization seeking to move from a traditional TDM phone network to a VoIP network does not have an Ethernet LAN capable of supporting VoIP. This inadequacy may result from insufficient capacity, QoS or reliability.

The conventional solution in these cases is to upgrade the Ethernet network while junking the old phone wiring.

Phybridge proposes to leave the Ethernet network alone, and to reuse the old phone wiring to implement a parallel data network, using Ethernet over a flavor of DSL. This is similar to HomePNA, but aimed at business use rather than consumer, and done point-to-point rather than into a shared medium.

The solution consists of two parts: a central box called “Uniphyer” has 24 ports connected to the legacy phone wiring. At the other end of each cable run is a “phy adapter” the size of a pack of cigarettes that you plug into the legacy phone jack, and into which you plug your Ethernet VoIP phone.

The Uniphyer provides power over the same copper pair as the data, so you can plug power-over-Ethernet phones into the client adapters.

The data rate is 3 megabits per second upstream, 30 down. This is slow for a data network, but certainly adequate for VoIP, so an organization that is replacing a conventional PBX phone system with a VoIP one may find Phybridge a cost effective solution if their existing data network isn’t up to VoIP, and the required improvements are extensive.

The Uniphyer is scheduled to launch at the end of September.

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