Savings On The Line

A Canadian transportation company is expecting to see savings in the range of $2,000 per month on long-distance calls using VoIP. Simard Transport is making the switch to voice over IP from its traditional telephony system with the help of solution provider PrivalODC.VoIP, a technology for transmitting telephone calls over the Internet, is one of the top e-business trends of 2005. And with more small and mid-size businesses turning to the low-cost communications alternative, a number of solution providers are jumping into the market to provide products, services and support.
PrivalODC is rolling out 158 phone sets in Simard’s seven locations across Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, including an internal call centre. Within a year, that number will increase to 177.
The solution provider specializes in the development of network infrastructure solutions to help customers manage and monitor their networks. It recently moved into the VoIP space after completing its own installation in May.
“It was actually less expensive to install a complete new system than to add voice-mail capabilities to our existing analog key system from Lucent,” says Hugo Hamel, president and founder of PrivalODC Inc. in St. Lambert, Que. “We were also interested in obtaining more advanced features like VPN (virtual private network) from employees’ homes.”
So far, PrivalODC has seen benefits in the form of cost savings and the addition of features usually only available in much larger enterprise systems, such as Interactive Voice Response (which provides recorded messages in response to user input) — with the same quality as its traditional telephony system.
“We saw there was a need for affordable solutions in the SMB market,” he says. “To us, it was simply applying our IP infrastructure expertise to telephony.”
Gartner Dataquest predicts that spending on IP phone systems in North America will more than double over the next few years to reach US$4.2 billion in 2007. And Radicati Group says the number of worldwide corporate telephone lines that use VoIP will jump from four per cent to 44 per cent by 2008.
PrivalODC is a reseller of Gentek Marketing Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of networking equipment. Gentek is targeting the SMB space with the Aastra line of VoIP phones, along with the Gnet line of VoIP products.
Part of Gentek’s role in the pre-sales process is to determine the reseller’s knowledge curve as it relates to VoIP products and services, and help them determine the best course of action for their customers.
Jeffrey Freedman, Gentek’s vice-president of operations, says solution providers need technical knowledge to get into the VoIP space. “VoIP is not necessarily an easy implementation since you must look at both the LAN infrastructure and the connection to the Internet,” he says. “VoIP quality is only as good as the weakest link, so a reseller must be able to really evaluate the equipment that an end customer has and also be able to recommend the right VoIP equipment.”
In addition to offering phone sets, servers and cards, PrivalODC provides services such as installation and project management, and offers ongoing maintenance and support contracts.
Simard Transport recently signed on with PrivalODC to roll out a custom VoIP solution for its 530 employees. The company provides transportation services including general warehousing, distribution, and air and sea freight import/export services with its fleet of 193 tractors, 174 trailers and 71 trucks.
PrivalODC is developing a custom reception application for courtesy call transfers, as well as a monitoring application for call queues. A log-off feature will go into effect when call centre agents are not available.
Simard expects ROI in the form of lower inter-office communications costs, greater monitoring capabilities, as well as simplified deployment and administration.
“The list can be quite extensive,” says Alain Major, MIS and telecom director for Simard Transport Ltd. in Montreal. “In my opinion, it is the next-gen system.”
Hamel says the VoIP solution will provide long-distance cost-savings in the range of $2,000 per month for the transportation company. There’s also built-in redundancy if, for some reason, one of the sites becomes non-operational.
Simard chose PrivalODC because it was recommended by one of its phone services providers.
“The system so far is able to do whatever our old system was capable of, plus all the new features that you can expect from a VoIP system,” says Major. But he likes the fact the VoIP system comes with a monitoring application. “That would kill two birds with one stone for us.”
Simard is using PrivalODC’s network and IT performance software to help with proactive network management, and it has signed a three-year services agreement for maintenance and support.
As a solution provider, PrivalODC develops specific applications to respond to specific requirements. Customers pay a monthly or annual fee for these services and can buy a pre-defined number of tokens for MAC (modify, add and change) purposes.
Solution providers can offer a variety of value-added services in the VoIP space, according to Gentek’s Freedman, such as connecting offices through the use of gateways and phones, offering hosted services and eliminating phone lines, offering low-cost second line phone services, offering low-cost long-distance services as well as teleconferencing.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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