Credit union invests in IP

Vantis Credit Union is making a withdrawl from the PBX market and putting its money on Internet protocol.

The Winnipeg-based company recently switched from a private branch exchange (PBX) telephone switching system to IP phones.

Cygnal Technologies Corp. was in charge of installing Avaya Inc. technology.

Vantis IT manager Brian Hansen says a business decision forced the technological one. Vantis came to be through the merger of Hy-line Credit Union and decibel Credit Union last October. A good business match, however, doesn’t always translate into IT synergies. The companies had two very different phone systems.

After examining the various options, Vantis decided the IP phones would help kill two birds with one stone: eliminate under-performing integrated services digital network (ISDN) lines and add to a WAN upgrade that saw the company move to a digital subscriber line-type environment.

“”That gave us enough bandwidth not only for our data needs, but also for our telephone needs. That made it very easy to use their product to tie all of our branches together on the same phone system,”” Hansen says. “”We were able to get rid of those ISDN lines because we’re now going to be able to run all of our telephony across our existing WAN.””

As the system stands now, all the IP phones are routed through a central network and sent out to the various branches running Cajun switches.

Hansen says there was been an immediate improvement on the customer service and financial sides. By routing all calls through the call centre, Vantis is able to deal with small issues without having to interrupt account managers. It was also able to recycle much of its old equipment, he says.

Dave Sherry, president of Cygnal Technology Corp.’s telecom networks group, estimates Vantis saved as much as $150,000 by retooling equipment. “”We didn’t have to forklift the main location for a wholesale change. It was like an add-on,”” he says.

“”Rather than having those two (ISDN) lines going into the branch we were able for the same money, or a little bit less, to put in 20 times the bandwidth. We needed more bandwidth for our computers anyway, we also had a separate line for our telephones. By pulling the one line out and expanding our service for our data network we saved some money there,”” Hansen adds.

A common knock against IP telephony, however, is questionable voice quality. Sherry argues this isn’t the case. He says the system can deliver quality voice service by allocating enough bandwidth: data gets slowed down and no voice.

Hansen agrees.

“”We’ve improved on the voice quality on our phones in our remote branches immensely. The MCK (Communications) units on the ISDN line were a little tinny because of the compression algorithm. In some branches we have absolutely no compression on our phones — they’re wide open and the sound quality is excellent.””

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