Verizon taps VoLTE for desktop phone

Verizon Yealink phone
According to Verizon, using the Yealink phone could free up internet bandwidth and help improve the performance of other devices and apps on a customer’s network. (Verizon)

Here’s a throwback: Verizon is launching a new LTE cellular phone, but it’s not your typical smartphone. It’s a phone that looks and feels like a desk phone, but it’s got LTE and eSIM for maximum mobility and easy set-up.

Verizon Business and Yealink announced the One Talk T67LTE wireless desk phone, based on the Android operating system. It’s available with Verizon’s One Talk service, which was launched about five years ago.

It’s a business phone system in the cloud, but designed from the ground up to be mobile first, according to Alex Doyle, executive director, Advanced Communications Products at Verizon.

It’s not as easy as one might think to make a desktop phone that’s “mobile first.” Most business phone systems today are wireline oriented, and the biggest challenge here is making it work with existing infrastructure.

The One Talk service runs over the Verizon wireless network, but a lot of customers don’t use Verizon for their last-mile broadband.

In fact, it’s a first in that the One Talk desk phone is built and deployed to make it look and feel like a smartphone. It uses eSIM technology and over-the-air connectivity.

“We love it from a market fit,” as well as “de-frictioning” the operational process, Doyle said. “By using eSIM, we can get it to shipping to a customer in hours and it’s all activated and built into our management systems,” including OSS and BSS, reducing the price and increasing ease of use.

They’re not publicly disclosing pricing at this time, he said. The OneTalk T67LTE phone will be generally available later this year for businesses of any size.

Unified communications of yesteryear

Years ago, there was a push for phones that would connect on a campus and then use the wide area cellular network when leaving the work space. One of the reasons that didn’t take off so much is that’s a really hard nut to crack, according to Doyle.

“Trying to go between Voice over Wi-Fi or Voice over a wireless LAN, and then roam onto the macro cellular network system and then roam back, that’s a really, really hard technical problem to solve,” he said.

The other thing is customers don’t really like the burden it puts on them to engineer a local area network, whether it’s mesh or something else. It can get complex and that’s one of the reasons this new service is so attractive, he said. “You’re just always on the VoLTE network,” and you don’t need to worry about roaming conditions or hand-offs, he said. “It was on us at Verizon to make this simple.”

Who wants a desk phone?

Certainly, there are plenty of smartphone warriors who seem to be glued to their smartphones, but a segment of the population still prefers to work with a desktop-only phone or they want a hybrid phone.

“For a variety of reasons, a lot of our customer base has been quite adamant” about wanting desk phones as part of their service, Doyle said. Verizon’s One Talk service has attracted more than 100,000 businesses that are using it today, including a one-person company in Montana that’s run by an 89-year-old grandmother tending to an Etsy business.

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Over the past couple years, there’s been a growing interest in having desk phones as part of the service – more than one might have expected. Ethernet connection and Wi-Fi capability are included with the T67LTE desk phone if the customer prefers an internet connection or a cellular signal isn’t available.

At the moment, there’s no pressing need for 5G, and of course, this being the age of the pandemic, the phone pairs with Verizon’s BlueJeans Meetings for audio, video and web conferencing, but it’s also compatible with other meeting services.