As further proof that IP telephony is slowly but surely gaining in popularity, one of Alberta’s colleges has decided to expand the number of IP phones past the 320 it already uses.

Calgary-based Bow Valley College has

been running its voice network on Alcatel‘s converged voice and data network for about a year. IT manager Mike Shannon said Monday that the college’s experience with the OmniPCX Enterprise IP-PBX and Omni data switch-based system has been positive enough to make the company consider rolling it out to a number of its 26 locations throughout Alberta.

Shannon said the college knew its Centrex voice system was in need of replacing. It was simply too expensive and too difficult to manage, he said. As part of a deal with the Alberta government Bow Valley College was able to get the same reduced rates for the Centrex system as the big government client, and still the phone network was very costly. Worst of all, he said, the old system was very inflexible.

“”If someone needed to change their voice mail,”” Shannon said, “”it could take up to three weeks because the change had to be run through government services first.””

The college considered a number of options when a decision to upgrade was made, Shannon said, but in the end it became obvious to the project team that only one technology was worth the investment.

“”We kicked some tires . . . But we felt that IP telephony was where things were going to be eventually,”” he said. “”When we sent out RFPs we were not able to convince ourselves to buy an analogue or digital system when we knew in two or three years we’d be looking at IP telephony anyway.””

Currently there are over 320 IP phones deployed throughout the college. The school has also rolled out the Alcatel OmniPCX Enterprise with OmniTouch Contact Center in its call centre. The call centre routing software sends calls to the appropriate destination and has an interactive queuing capability that allows callers to leave the queue without losing their priority.

The college has also given its staff access to the Visual Messenger product, which allows users to manage E-mails, voicemail and faxes from one inbox.

The school said that this feature has been particularly helpful to career advisors who receive a high volume of calls. They can now decide to respond to missed calls by phone or email. They can also forward fax, and voice messages as an e-mail attachment.

Although the user experience with the system has generally been quite positive, Shannon points out that in the days immediately following the implementation the school had some trouble with voice clipping and jitter. The problem was only noticed by a small number of users, but it was still an odd experience for them, he said.

Decibel gains and loses also had to be adj

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