Cisco Systems Inc. has built its first IP communications demonstration centre for end users in Toronto.

The San Jose, Calif.-based vendor, whose product families include its architecture for voice, video and integrated data (AVVID),

has built a lab — dubbed the business communications innovation centre (BCIC) — at Cisco Systems Canada Co.’s corporate headquarters at BCE Place in downtown Toronto.

The facility includes a room with six Cisco 7960 IP phones, a 3640 router with a Frame Relay link, an ICS 70000 Integrated Communications System and various voice-over-IP products from Cisco and other vendors, such as Polycom and Nortel.

This is the first Cisco facility of its kind in the world, said Brantz Myers, Cisco Canada’s national solutions manager. He added the company built the centre in order to demonstrate the advantages of technologies like voice-over-IP (VoIP) to potential customers.

In the past, analysts have had a “”wait and see”” attitude about VoIP, but now the technology is ready for prime time, Myers said. “”Pretty well every major financial institution has a pilot going.””

The Toronto BCIC is designed for one-day workshops, where Cisco staff will demonstrate of various VoIP features. These include Extensible Markup Language (XML) services and emergency 911 services.

Although some users may want traditional circuit-switched telephone systems in order to let them make emergency calls, for example, Cisco offers an emergency responder feature. This is designed to ensure the system knows the location of the phone and connects the caller to the correct 911 dispatcher, said Ted Garner, a Cisco Canada systems engineer.

Myers said 20 per cent of the return on investment from VoIP is from the money saved on long distance calls over the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

It also helps companies save money because it’s easier to add, move and change extensions, he said. Users can move their extension by walking over to another phone and logging in.

Cisco plans to open four more centres — in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary — later this year.


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