Investment services firm picks VoIP for remote telecom

When Sue Dabarno is in Florida, she can take phone calls from her clients and customers in Canada without anyone knowing she is south of the border.

This is because the executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Richardson Partners

Financial Ltd.

uses voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to access her corporate telecom system from anywhere in the world over the Web.

Toronto-based Richardson Financial, which provides investment services to multi-millionaires, has been using Cisco Systems’ CallManager and 7970 IP phones since its spinoff two years ago from its parent company, Winnipeg-based James Richardson & Son Ltd.

The firm chose Cisco and Bell Canada because they needed to get a voice and data network up and running within three months, said Stan Eng, Richardson Financial’s senior vice-president and chief technology officer.

Richardson Financial runs voice and data over an IP network connecting its eight Canadian offices, and lets its investment advisors access the corporate network from any Internet connection.

All voicemails messages are stored as .wav files in users’ Outlook mailboxes, and the company is running a soft phone trial with 13 users, who can access their extensions from public Wi-Fi hot spots.

Eng made his comments late last week to about 30 international journalists during a tour of six of Cisco’s Canadian customers, which include Virgin Mobile Canada and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA).

The GTAA uses a combined voice and data IP network at Pearson International Airport’s new Terminal 1, which accommodates travellers crossing the Canada-U.S. border.

When airlines move staff from one ticket counter to another, they don’t have to bring any phones or computers with them. Instead, they can access all of their custom applications from the IP phone at the new counter by logging in, said Jim Burke, GTAA’s vice-president and chief information officer.

Burke added this portability of applications saves the airlines the trouble of training staff on new equipment.

“They don’t have to end up with bits of paper glued to the check-in counters,” he said.

The airport runs video over the same network, allowing individual airlines to use surveillance cameras “on demand” and to control the cameras’ zoom, pan and tilt functions.

The IP network also allows self-serve check-in kiosks, and lets airport staff move their phone extensions more easily.

“As long as we can access the network from somewhere, we can bring up the right screens,” Burke said.

The airport operates like a telecommunications carrier, bringing in about $1 million in revenue from the services it provides to airlines, shops and other tenants, Burke said during a press conference at the yet-to-be opened Gate 153, which overlooks construction of a new apron area where the old Terminal 1 used to stand.

“We have created a communications ring that touches almost all of the buildings here.”

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