Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Better Together over Ethernet Experiences

I’ve been running with Polycom VVX 500 Better Together over Ethernet (BToE) since Monday, September 9th (Polycom released last Friday). It is reasonably easy to set up and won’t require administrative overhead other than a bit more work when you do the initial phone setup.

I also tried to setup the Snom version… since they responded by shipping their Beta on Monday. The Snom version looks like it was coded over the weekend and it is not deployable large scale by any stretch of the imagination. It has major administrative overhead to get it up and running (which I haven’t got it running yet). At this point I wouldn’t have called it a Beta… maybe more like pre-alpha/alpha version.

In my opinion.. Polycom is really the only choice at the moment.

A few things about the current Polycom version

  • PC is required to connect to PC Port of phone for BToE pairing to work
  • A separate application has to be running in the systray to allow BToE pairing.
  • If connection to the PC Port is lost or disconnected, then pairing is lost and has to re-paired (not a big deal). Rumor is… this is a bug…and it should reestablish on its own, once paired.
  • Exchange Calendar integration is not automatic. It has to be configured separately. Which is nice we have this option. The current version doesn’t seem to come back after the phone is rebooted. Might be a bug.
  • I do not have details about deployment of it… but it does appear we have an option for paging through phone with the Polycom VVX series. At the surface it looks like it uses a Multicast address on the IP network.
  • Voicemail is not retrievable on the phone like Lync Phone Edition. You have to call in to Exchange UM to retrieve VM (or retrieve through Outlook)
  • Some Plantronics and Jabra USB headsets are supported as a headset option with these phones. I’ve been using the Voyager UC Pro and Voyager Legend with the phone.
  • The Polycom seems limited in the features you can assign to “buttons” on the phone. You can have multiple users logged in with also the ability to do shared line appearance.
  • The phone is aware of delegate scenarios and notifies user of those when a user is logged in.
  • BToE pairing can be done with the phone not logged in (when pairing, the Lync client presents login for phone just like Lync Phone Edition)
  • Transfer from Phone to other USB device on Lync works… but does not work to go back. This would seem to be a bug.
  • Mute from the Lync client is not available. You can only Mute using the phone. There is also no notification in the Lync window you are muted and to others as well.
  • Works with Lync 2010 client.
  • The VVX phone is well engineered with a nice feel to it.
  • There is an extra license fee from Polycom for the Lync “personality” of the phone. Plan on $15 added to the cost of the phone. But don't quote me on it :-). If you'd like a quote you can call Ryan Herbst at
  • This is a good blog on the Polycom BToE experience

A few things about the current Snom version (much more limited since I haven’t actually got it to work yet)

  • Pairing is done via IP address (which I have reservations about since the user doesn’t have to be physically by the phone to control)
  • The Snom has quite a large range of features we can assign to buttons on the phone.
  • Snom firmware for Lync has been out in the wild longer.
  • Biggest complaint from customers about Snom phones is the look and feel. They feel cheap and not well made.
  • No extra license fee.


  1. when you say "BToE pairing can be done with the phone not logged in (when pairing, the Lync client presents login for phone just like Lync Phone Edition)" what exactly do you mean? I signed a contract with a Cloud PBX non Microsoft and in my company we have Lync 2010. We use Lync only to make call lync to lync and only a couple of us use it to make phone calls to phone numbers. I guess what I am trying to ask you is can we use the phone when we make phone call through the Lync Client even though the phone is register with the Cloud PBX provider?

  2. What I meant is that PIN auth won't work because DHCP options typically can't be controlled easily for home office/remote locations. When you pair the phone with the PC over BTOE you have an opportunity to give it the credentials the Cloud needs to allow the phone to sign in. Whether or not your particular Cloud PBX can do this... I'm not sure... but I do this with the Time2Market Cloud platform just fine.

  3. Hay thanks for your blog, can the btoe working between pc in vlan x and polycom phone in vlan y or btoe must work in same vlan

    1. Snom at the time could do this but they are no longer considered supported. Polycom to my knowledge has to be a physical connection. You might take a look at AudioCodes phones which this would be possible.

  4. Hi, thanks for the blog!
    Taking into account the PC is supposed to have a single network card..., how would be connected to the LAN? The connection with the polycom would assign a IP of the same vlan as the phone?