IP Telephony And WWAN Expertise Connect Integrator To Profits
As a systems integrator in the telco field, it pays to make yourself known to big phone service providers like AT&T. The result, as Communications Finance, Inc. found out, could be a $200,000 project.
Communications Finance, Inc. (CFI) (Park Ridge, IL) is a systems integrator that specializes in wide area networks (WANs). The company also has expertise with IP (Internet protocol) phones, which is what led AT&T to call. According to Craig Turner, technical service manager at CFI, AT&T called because one of its customers wanted to upgrade its phone lines and install a new phone system. "AT&T called us because they needed some assistance closing this IP phone system deal," Turner said. "However, as the project moved along, we were able to generate some more business from this client without the help of AT&T." The customer was a chocolate manufacturer in Chicago that has two buildings encompassing approximately 450,000 total square feet. The two buildings are about 300 yards apart and separated by railroad tracks. "We suggested WWAN [wireless WAN] connectivity options for linking the two buildings," Turner said.
Use A WWAN To Converge Voice And Data
The contact at the chocolate manufacturer was a new network administrator who managed the company's IT department. After conducting an audit of the company's phone system, he was shocked to find a $15,000 monthly fee being paid for 13 voice connections from AT&T. Additionally, the company was paying $400 per month for a leased private line circuit that connected the two buildings. After an analysis of the company's phone usage, he determined only four voice circuits would be needed. He also wanted to replace the old Lucent Definity phone system and the leased line connecting the buildings.
"The phone portion of this install was bigger than the WWAN portion," Turner admitted. "We actually had to replace everything from the PBX (private branch exchange [a private telephone switchboard]) to all of the 165 phones. We really started from scratch. In fact, during the project there were some users who had two phones on their desk at one time."
The IP telephony part of the project included Cisco products such as an MCS-7835 Call Manager (PBX unit) cluster, a Unity Unified messaging system, ICD (integrated call distribution) software, Automated Attendant software, Web Attendant software, and the IP phones. The WWAN solution consolidated both voice and data into the same network. The WWAN was constructed with two Cisco wireless Aironet bridges and two Cisco Yagi antennas.
To provide the hardware and software needed for this project, Communications Finance turned to distributor Comstor (Chantilly, VA). Comstor's Pro Shop, a Cisco Professional Services Partner (PSP), provided the following:
- a review of the planned design
- an implementation plan
- a revision of the circuit provisioning
- management of the cable plant modifications
- installation of the complete AVVID (architecture for voice, video, and integrated data)
- end user and administrative training.
Can You Offer $8,000 Per Month Savings?
The entire installation lasted six months. In the end, every user had a new phone that included a 4-inch by 6-inch display and a Web browser. One week was required to train the staff on the new phones and train the network administrator on the intricacies of the entire system.
The entire project cost $200,000. Turner estimates the chocolate company saves approximately $8,000 per month with the new IP telephony solution and the WWAN. Those savings translate to a payback period of a little more than two years. "This project will continue to evolve for probably the next three years," Turner stated. "The client wants to eventually add wireless phones and upgrade its call center to take full advantage of the Web browser in the phones."