Sprint Canada Inc. announced this week that The Oppenheimer Group, a Vancouver-based produce marketing company, has chosen Sprint’s IP Enabled Solutions to link its 25 North American locations.

The companies would not disclose

the value of the contract, but Doug Grant, chief information officer at Oppenheimer, said it represents a significant savings over his firm’s previous contract with AT&T Corp.

Sprint Canada launched IP Enabled Solutions in September, and Oppenheimer’s new network went live at the end of that month.

Oppenheimer is using the network to connect its locations — two in Canada and the rest in the U.S. — to a host computer system at its Vancouver headquarters. The network also handles e-mail and other data traffic between offices, Internet access and some point-to-point videoconferencing, Grant said.

Oppenheimer is not currently running voice traffic over the network, but that is a possibility for the future, Grant added. The company has already switched its long-distance business to Sprint in the U.S. and is transferring Canadian long-distance traffic to Sprint Canada early this year. Sprint will also provide phone systems to Oppenheimer, but it is not yet decided whether these will rely on IP.

Bruce Robertson, senior manager of data and IP services for Sprint Canada, said IP Enabled Solutions includes quality of service (QoS) capabilities that allow it to support voice applications. The market for voice over IP is “”starting to pick up,”” he added.

Grant said his company tried voice over VoIP about two years ago and found it complex. Given the decline in long-distance rates he is not sure a change can be cost-justified. Only about 15 per cent of Oppenheimer’s long-distance traffic is inter-office, he noted.

Oppenheimer previously relied on frame relay connections among its offices. Besides being cheaper, Grant said, the new IP network offers a mesh design that gives the company more redundancy. A related factor is the ability to switch over quickly to a backup hot site in one of Oppenheimer’s east coast offices should the host system in Vancouver fail. With the old network, he said, doing so would have required setting up new connections to the hot site. Now, “”in the event our host computer goes out, other offices can immediately connect up with the hot site.””

The IP network also simplifies management. “”You only have to manage one IP per location,”” said Grant, instead of dealing with multiple virtual circuits in larger offices. And Sprint handles most of the management chores.

 

Grant said Oppenheimer chose Sprint because of its IP offering and because of the carrier’s close relationship with its U.S. namesake, which lets it offer a single point of contact and one bill for services on both sides of the border.

“”We’ve made a conscious and consistent effort to go the same way as Sprint U.S. is going,”” said Robertson, adding that when it comes to offering a seamless package with a U.S. vendor, “”we’re the only game in town.””

Sprint Canada has signed up several customers for IP Enabled Solutions, Robertson said. Most are companies with seven or eight locations, some are single-location customers, and the company is close to announcing a deal with a national retailer with about 400 locations.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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