Spectralink Wireless DECT for Microsoft Teams Review

In this review we are going to take a look at the Spectralink 7502 DECT Wireless Phone for Microsoft Teams.

From the Spectralink website; The Spectralink 7502 wireless DECT handset is elegant yet robust with features designed to increase user as well as business productivity for mobile workers in SOHO (Small Office / Home Office), and general office environments. The colour display and the intuitive menu structure makes the handset a practical and preferred choice for mobile workers in general office environments across a range of businesses.

In the spirit of this description, I am going to test it within a SOHO environment. I am going to test the following categories

  1. Initial Setup
  2. Handset Functionality
  3. Usability & Performance
  4. Durability

Initial Setup

Out of the box, the Spectralink 7502 for Microsoft Teams couldn’t be simpler to setup. Inside the box, you get

  • DECT IP Server
  • Handset
  • Handset base station
  • Power Cables
  • Ethernet Cable
Spectralink 7502 Installation

Pre-requisites

Before installing the Spectralink 7502 for Microsoft Teams, there are a couple of configuration changes you may need to perform on Teams. The handset uses the Microsoft Teams SIP Gateway to sign in and connect to Teams. Therefore, you must ensure that the user account you are going to sign in with has a Calling Policy with SIP Gateway enabled.

Enabling SIP Gateway for Microsoft Teams

You must also ensure that the user account is licensed with Microsoft Teams Phone Standard license and have a phone number assigned.

The IP DECT server will also require access to the internet from its connected LAN.

Connecting the IP DECT Server

The DECT Server requires an ethernet connection and a power connection. If your network supports Power over Ethernet (PoE), this can be used instead of the independent power supply.

From first boot, the DECT server is configured to obtain its network configuration from DHCP. Assuming that an address is supplied, the server can be administered via its web interface using https://<ip_address>

The default username and password is admin/admin

In a simple setup with no network complexity, the IP DECT server requires no manual configuration. It is pure plug ‘n’ play. For more complex environments, Spectralink have a full DECT Server provisioning tool.

The boot process takes less than a minute, and when the DECT server is ready, a solid green light is displayed on the top status light.

Spectralink IP DECT for 7502 Series
IP DECT 200 Server

Connecting the 7502 Handset

The 7502 handset comes pre-assembled in its box. You’ll need to remove the battery cover and battery to remove the plastic separator between the battery and its internal power connector before charging.

Charging of the device itself from empty to full takes about an hour (maybe less).

When powered on, the handset will automatically pair to the DECT server. No configuration is required on the phone to pair the phone to the DECT Server.

Microsoft Teams Sign In

The sign in process to Microsoft Teams is very simple. You will need access to a computer to perform the sign in process. This is because the 7502 does not have a web browser built-in to the phone’s operating system, so device code with web sign in pairing is necessary.

To be honest, I prefer this method unless a device has a QWERTY keyboard.

On the Phone navigate to Menu > Microsoft Teams > Sign In

Spectralink 7502 Teams Login

The phone will contact Microsoft and obtain a pairing code. On your computer, navigate to https://microsoft.com/devicelogin and enter the code displayed on the handset.

Sign in with the user account you want the phone to sign with (ensuring that the pre-reqs have already been met) to complete the process.

Sign in takes just a few moments.

Initial Setup Summary

Spectralink have really nailed the initial setup of the 7502 series for small businesses and home use. It is very simple and provided nothing complex exists on the network, it is a truly plug and play solution.

Boot time performance of the DECT server and the phone handset is probably the fastest I have ever seen in the Teams phone device market. From a cold start to making a phone call can be as little as 2 minutes.

I also like the fact that the packaging is plain and simple. Spectralink have done a great job in prioritising the environment over style as almost all of the packaging is commonly recyclable. Lose the plastic phone fascia protector cover and it would be 100% recyclable.

Improvements can be made of course, but only small ones. Out of the box, the DECT Server is configured to use UTC timezone and this filters down to the handset. Even if you change the time on the handset, the time reverts to the server time on the next synchronisation.

In a SOHO environment most users will assume that the handset is the control interface of the entire solution. They will not know that you can login to the DECT server, nor care. I would like to see the handset control this setting when the DECT server is unmanaged.

Another improvement would be to introduce WiFi to the DECT server as a method of connecting to the network. Ethernet of course is simple. However, WiFi is now ubiquitous and the default for most home and small office installations. Installing the DECT server in the same location as the home router might not be the best location and the requirement of a physical cable, limits the scope of where this can be installed.

This could still be a simple setup procedure if using the phone as the control interface was adopted. For instance, there could be a feature to allow the user to enter the wifi credentials on the phone, and the phone push these settings to the DECT server over the air.

Handset Features

As you would expect from a SOHO product, the handset is simple and easy to use. Not too many options, but enough for it to meet most demands expected of it.

The call out features that I like are hearing aid compatibility and noisy environment settings. These settings you do not easily have using the native Teams mobile app on a budget smartphone.

The attention to voice quality within the product is easy to see with the settings to adjust not only volume of the speaker or enable vibrate, but also the gain of the microphone. In noisy environments such as manufacturing, retail shop floor, or frontline healthcare, these features really come into their own.

Other features include a call history with redial facility, address book lookup and Teams presence are nice features to include for usability.

Microsoft Teams specific features include the ability to listen to voicemails and set call forwarding settings directly on the phone.

To forward all calls, dial *33* followed by the number you want to forward to. To enabled simultaneous ring, dial *34* followed by the number.

To cancel, simply dial *32*

The one downside is that it is number driven. You can’t enter in a username, so call forwarding is limited to you knowing the destination number.

You can also create your own phone shortcuts, speed dials and phone book.

As with any SIP registered phone, the 7502 lacks directory integration with AzureAD and this limits the usability of the device.

For SOHO, this may not be an issue, but in larger organisations having an address book integration is a fundamental requirement. The DECT server can connect to LDAP, so this can be mitigated provided you have Active Directory and that you are writing your Teams phone numbers to it.

A lot of companies look towards SIM-less smartphones to issue to their frontline workers. Whilst they are a cheap, disposable solution, they suffer from poor battery life which degrades further over time. Integrated batteries mean they cannot be swapped, so the phone is taken out of service until charging is complete.  

Battery life on the Spectralink 7502 on the other hand is like going back to the Year 2000. On standby we are talking days before you need to recharge and talk time will easily see out a 10-hour working day without the need for battery replacement or recharge. If you do run out of battery, simply swap the battery pack for a ready charged one and continue.

Additionally, you can purchase a belt clip addon which makes the phone easily portable and accessible for users who are constantly on the move.

Features Summary

From a front line and SOHO perspective, the 7502 packs a lot of the fundamental features a user in a SOHO environment needs.

For the price point the 7502 is listed at, it is by far the most sensible option for frontline workers in a demanding environment. It is not overstated and doesn’t include gimmick features. It is a phone, and its primary job is making a phone call. It has all the features it needs for it to perform that task well.

The limitation of a unified address book is down to predominately Microsoft. The SIP gateway does not include an address book service. This could be solved by updating the DECT server to support Microsoft Graph API to search for users and allowing the handset to interface with this. However, this might require high specification components.

Using the built-in LDAP is fine, but this relies on the directory being up to date. In a cloud first world where the source of data i.e. phone number is held within the cloud, having an on-prem directory integration makes less sense. This is especially true with Microsoft Teams as to write back to AD from AzureAD a user’s Lineuri is not possible without custom scripting.

Another limitation of the SIP Gateway is that it will not pass URIs. To call from a SIP Gateway connected phone to a Teams user requires the Teams user to have a phone number. So, this means that the 7502 can only call internal Teams users that also have a Teams Phone License and number or extension.

But then, in a SOHO environment, these limitations would not hold anyone back. The use case of having a DECT phone is really for you to be contactable no matter where you are within that environment. For you, calling outbound will normally be a very small list of internal numbers or adhoc external numbers, for which, the device’s features make that easy to manage.

Usability & Performance

Firstly, performance. From a cold boot start without existing sign-in, you can be up and running inside 2-minutes. The boot process of the DECT server takes less than a minute. The handset takes about 10 seconds to boot into a usable state and signing into Microsoft is quick and simple process limited to how slow you are at using your keyboard!

From a warm boot, where you have previously signed into your Teams account, you can be up and running inside 1-minute.

It is the fastest boot to use I have ever witnessed for Microsoft Teams and this is largely down to its simplicity of use and development effort from Spectralink.

Battery

Battery life, as I have mentioned before is incredible. It takes me back to the good old GSM days with the Nokia 3310 that seemed to have infinite power. After 7 days of standby I got bored waiting to see the battery die and recharged it.

Talk time usage is great too. You’ll easily see out a 10-hour shift of medium to high usage without the need to recharge. If you do run out of battery, simply replace the battery with a spare and carry on.

Range

A big advantage of DECT vs WiFi is that with DECT, the frequency is less congested, which means stronger signals and thus clearer voice quality over longer ranges.

With the IP DECT 200 Server that accompanies the 7502, I tested to about 20 meters in radius before the handset lost signal to the server. This was through internal and brick walls.

Signal radius from my location based on tests

In terms of distance before voice quality was impeded was about 17 meters in the same environment.

In contrast, a WiFi call on 2.4GHz using my mobile phone had a usable range of about 14 meters before I experienced issues with voice quality.

If you do need extended range, Spectralink do sell DECT repeaters and radios that you can install around your office and the phone will automatically move between these as they come into range.

UI Responsiveness

Being a simple device that is built for calling and not a lot else, you’d expect the UI to be responsive. The 7502 operating system does not disappoint. There is no noticeable delay between button command and the UI which leaves user’s smiling.

Voice Quality

Spectralink put a lot of effort into making their devices usable in demanding environments. The built-in features for echo cancellation, noisy environments as well as the adjustments in Microphone gain ensure that the 7502 can hold its own in the noisiest of places.

This, combined with the range and bandwidth that DECT brings creates the perfect package for delivering voice to the user.

Look & Feel

Spectralink are not known for their super sexy looking devices. But what they lack aesthetically they make up for in practicality. After all, the users of these devices are not going to care about a million mega pixel camera, or cinematic mode or how much space there is to install apps.

The 7502 is built for a purpose and it knows what its purpose is. It is light weight, can be carried in a pocket without too much trouble, or can be connected to a belt clip. Users aren’t going to feel like they have been carrying a brick all day or have sweaty thigh syndrome from the excess heat production and lack of ventilation from modern day smartphones.

The 7502 looks just like a home phone, and to users that are going to use them, this feels natural and intuitive. There is not much that can go wrong.

The lack of a touchscreen is a strong point of this device. Mechanical buttons means that the phone can still be operated with gloves or greasy fingers. Simply, the device just doesn’t get in the way of its user. It just does its job.

Durability

The 7502 is a tough little device. It is built to cope with demanding use and environments. Whilst the phone itself feels cheap and plastically, you have to remember it is built to be a work horse and not look like the next must have status accessory.

It will survive bumps, bangs and even drops and shake them off like Atom from the movie Real Steel.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, Atom is a boxing training robot for other robots to train their right hooks. Throughout the story Atom is portrayed to have a personality and soul. One of never give up, keep getting back up.

Somehow the 7502 draws some parallels to Atom. I’ve thrown it, dropped it, bashed it. Sometimes the hit is so hard the battery falls out of the device. But, put it back in, power it on and the little thing is ready for round 2!

I love it and I never thought I would. It just does what it was made to do. It doesn’t pretend to be anything more or less.

This really sums up the 7502 and why these phones are such a great device for home use, manufacturing, retail and healthcare. Simple, reliable and consistent.

For businesses looking to invest in frontline mobile solutions, don’t get distracted by gimmicks, gadgets or workarounds. There are devices out there that are specifically designed for this purpose.

Sure, a cheap Android smartphone will be cheaper than the 7502, but not by much. When you factor in you’ll need two of them to see through a normal working day, or replace them every few weeks because of broken screens etc., the Spectralink really delivers on your investment.

Whether it is business as usual or in an emergency, the Spectralink 7502 will not let you down.

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