The Nortel IP Software 2050 is a Windows-based application that runs on Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 2000 Professional. This software solution is designed to work with Nortel IP-based phone systems providing Voice Over IP (VoIP) services. The application has gone through quite a few revisions and upgrades over the past few years. This software based application works best with a dedicated USB based headset such as Nortel Mobile USB Headset.
I’ve used the i2050 on and off for the past two years. I found that version 1.x was prone to crashing especially after the laptop/desktop had been up for sometime and the application had been running for a few hours. Nortel just recently (within the last year) released version 2.x which is a giant leap forward in terms of stability.
When used on a fairly modern PC with a 100Mbps switched Ethernet network the call quality is indistinguishable from Nortel’s hardwired Internet Telephones (i2002/i2004/1120e/1140e/1150e). I should comment that it’s my general opinion that a Nortel Internet Telephone sounds clearer than a traditional digital or analog TDM set. The i2050 supports all the features that the hardwired Internet Telephones support including multiple line appearances, hold, transfer, conference, intercom, etc.
I have used the i2050 in a telecommuter role in conjunction with a branch to branch IPSec tunnel using a Nortel VPN 1100 Router (branch office) and a Nortel VPN 1740 Router (main office). I’ve had the opportunity to test that specific telecommuter solution over Verizon xDSL, Comcast Internet Cable and Verizon FiOS. All three mediums worked fine, however, I did need to be conscious of what I was doing on the laptop/desktop to avoid any call quality issues on the i2050.
In July of 2006 Nortel and Microsoft announced that they would be entering into an alliance to develop unified communications solutions. This has left a few of us wondering about the future of the i2050 softphone since it looks like it might be directly competing with Microsoft Office Communications Server (formerly Microsoft Live Communications Server). Obviously the OCS client will have quite a few more features (presence information, file transfer, instant messaging as well as voice and voice communications) than the i2050 but it won’t be able to support the wide array of voice features available in the i2050.
In summary I really like the Nortel i2050 phone and believe it is a worthwhile business tool. I would caution anyone that is looking to deploy a large number to make sure they do their homework and perform adequate testing to ensure that the i2050 software will work fine on their desktop image and with whatever software applications are required.