At Cisco, we like to ask, “what if?” Rather than settling for the status quo, we ask how we can improve the experiences that we deliver for our customers and partners. We already know that the future of enterprise communications is bright, and a bright future requires that call control, endpoints (including softphones), and wearables that work together as one single, seamless solution. This idea led us to launch the 500 Series headsets six months ago.

Since then, we have released several additional headset models to suit different working styles. This month, we deliver a compelling experience for the IT administrator tasked with managing large numbers of headsets in a UC or contact center environment.

First, a quick recap on the vision itself. The integration between headsets and unified communications platforms is primed for reinvention. The current “state of the art” doesn’t go very far beyond basic answering and hanging up calls. Most people think of a headset as a basic accessory, not as an important tool to make the work day easier and more productive.

What happens if we think about headsets differently? What if the softphone was smart enough to detect the presence of a headset and avoided sending audio via  computer speakers? What if an administrator had access, in one place, to the entire end-to-end call quality metrics, from the user’s microphone boom to the listener on the other end? What if the calling platform was able to save bandwidth by not sending broadband media to a user with a narrowband wireless device? What if headsets were intelligent enough to work even without a softphone?

Let’s start with the administrator. Today, IT teams need to install specialized device management software in order to manage headsets, whether locally, in the cloud, or on user machines. With the upcoming release of Cisco Unified Communications Manager (CUCM) 12.5, administrators will be able to manage voice calls, instant messages, video, calling devices, and Cisco headsets from the same interface, with no additional software, subscription fees, or licenses. Check out some of the new Cisco headset management features coming with Unified CM 12.5:

  • Inventory Management: Unified CM will provide reports based on headset model, connection status, firmware releases, connections, and more
  • Remote Configuration: Unified CM will be able to control headset settings, including wireless power range, wideband/narrow band settings, firmware version, Bluetooth on/off, and more (along with templates to help guide administrators)
  • Analytics and Diagnostics: Unified CM call records (CMRs) will be enhanced with additional metrics from headsets, such as RSSI (wireless signal strength), frame errors, connection drop reason, beacon moves, audio settings, DECT bandwidth, and more
  • Remote Log collection: The Unified CM user interface and the Real Time Management Tool (RTMT) will be able to trigger log collection, including headset logs without any user involvement.
  • Firmware upgrade: Unified CM can push new firmware to headsets using Jabber and IP phones, without the need for extra headset management software. This capability is available today. With Unified CM 12.5, administrators will be able to control firmware versions from a configuration template.

You will hear more about the 12.5 release in a blog next month. We will continue to enhance our headset management capabilities and extend them to other platforms like Webex Calling.

Launched this fall, the Cisco 560 Series wireless headsets offer outstanding audio quality and excellent range for the office worker. The 561 and 562 headset models use DECT to connect to the base station. DECT is the headset wireless protocol with the widest range in the industry (300 feet / 100m radius), and is the most appropriate for high-density environments like contact centers and open office plans. Cisco’s DECT implementation is one of the best in the industry – be sure to listen to high-definition music through a Cisco headset. In keeping with our emphasis on security in all our products, Cisco wireless headsets support DECT Security Step C (the highest available).

Initially, we offered the 560 Series with a standard base, which supports a single cabled connection to either a computer or a phone. Today, we are officially announcing the availability of the multi-base version of the 560 Series! The multi-base can connect with one Bluetooth connection, one USB device, and either another USB device or an RJ9/11 connector to a phone (depending on model). In other words, the multi-dock allows the user to use the same headset with a computer, a phone and a mobile phone at the same time, and to easily switch sources with the touch of a button.

I hope this gives you a sense of how committed we are to improving the headset experience for both end users and administrators. This is only the beginning! Many other ideas are in development to make the Cisco headset user experience both intelligent and intuitive. I can’t wait to share them with you. Hang tight.

Learn more about the 500 Series.


Fernando Mousinho

Director of Product Management

Unified Communications Technology Group