VoIP isn’t going to be a big bang, it will be a slow and steady migration. Large corporations that have had PBXes in place for more than five years are deciding it doesn’t make sense to deploy old technology anymore, says Keith Nissen, senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR, so VoIP is stepping in wherever

traditional equipment replacement cycles are taking place.

For companies that have a lot of traffic between internal sites or where they’ve already been running a VPN network, a lot of money can be saved by integrating voice onto their existing data networks, he says.

Manulife Financial, a Waterloo, Ont.-based financial services company, is in the process of switching over to IP. “”A key factor is we stopped buying and upgrading our old PBXes about 24 to 26 months ago,”” says John Mather, CIO of Manulife Financial. Every five to seven years, that equipment had to be replaced — and it came with a hefty price tag. “”Being able to replace it with voice over IP premise equipment is becoming much more attractive from a cost perspective,”” he says.

Company executives believe tariff costs will drop in the next three to five years as new IP phone carriers enter the market. “”Most businesses consider telephone service to be a commodity, so cost becomes king and the lower the cost the better,”” says Mather. “”This decision does save us substantially from the old digital equipment that we had before.””

But this wasn’t the only factor in driving the company’s migration to VoIP. “”In this day and age, a financial services company has to have a high level of redundancy,”” he says. “”In the past, we would usually only put one PBX in an office, so that meant if that PBX failed for any reason the whole phone system was not available.”” With VoIP, he says it’s much easier to configure secondary systems that can provide multiple backup.

BCE Connexim, a subsidiary of Bell Canada, is deploying Cisco IP phones and network equipment in approximately 100 offices across North America. In Canada, the phones are being tested in Vancouver, Calgary and the company’s Toronto headquarters.

“”As the PBX depreciates off, we will be converting a number of our major offices throughout North America and beginning a similar process in Asia over the next 18 months,”” he says. “”It’s a well-planned, staged approach, certainly not a big bang. It’s something that’s going to take a good year, year and a half, to complete with the 16,000 people we have here in North America.””

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