Lightning bolt is catalyst for phone system upgrade
The county’s old communications setup literally was hit by lightning and began experiencing electrical grounding problems and frequent service outages. That’s when the county began searching for a replacement.
The county’s new system features an NEC UNIVERGE IP platform, and enables unified messaging and other unified communications (UC) capabilities. The backbone of the system is an NEC UNIVERGE SV7000 Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) server and IP terminals. The SV7000 controls about 500 Dterm IP handsets and also hosts the county’s unified messaging setup (e-mail and voicemail in a single inbox) using NEC’s UNIVERGE UM4730 offering.
The SV7000 offers the flexibility for the county to add more UC applications and users as the need arises. Rice County’s system connects seven locations and supplies telephone service to the state court and the city police in Faribault, Minn.
The system has been deployed across multiple government sites, including offices and law enforcement facilities.
“Technology is very important to us,” said Sherry Hiller, IT director for Rice County. “Our new IP-based NEC telephony solution allows us to not only deliver UC applications to offices countywide, but we believe it ultimately permits us to enhance our ability to communicate and serve the public at-large.”
When evaluating solutions to replace the aging system, Hiller and the county’s technology team decided to upgrade to an IP-based solution that would support productivity-enhancing UC applications, including unified messaging.
Through an RFP process conducted by Tom Pavek with Elert & Associates of Stillwater, Minn., the county chose Matrix Communications, an NEC associate dealer based in Plymouth, Minn. A sample of county employees indicated that they preferred the NEC system, and that influenced the county’s ultimate selection of the NEC product.
“Rice County’s need to improve both productivity and system reliability are common challenges in the government sector,” said Paul Lopez, general manager of marketing and services for NEC Unified Solutions. “What makes this case special is the county’s decision to begin offering UC via the UNIVERGE platform to truly help improve the county’s business communications.”
VoIP advantages for governments
According to Tom Keating, vice president, CTO, and executive technology editor at TMC Labs, there are many compelling reasons for local and state governments to deploy VoIP.
“Even local school districts are deploying VoIP,” Keating said. “One of the biggest advantages is the simple extension dial plan, i.e.:
- “100—Superintendent of the schools.
- 101—Principal at Stamford High School.
- 102—Principal at Stamford Middle School.
- 103—Mr. John Smith, math teacher, Stamford Elementary School, etc.
“Before, you’d have to dial 203-555-1234 or whatever the number was.”
Keating added that VoIP phones “are easy to provision and administer.”
“With high turnover in some government intuitions, having an easy way to do remove/adds/changes is critical,” he said. “The total cost of ownership (TCO) is much better with VoIP systems, and they are more easily upgraded and scaled than traditional PBXs and key systems.
“Another key advantage is cost savings for state government. Lots of state governments have multiple office branches scattered across the state. When they have to call or fax to one another, they incur phone charges. VoIP is much cheaper and often free.”
Keating’s company, TMC Labs, is part of Technology Marketing Corp., a business-to-business media company serving the communications and technology markets. To view Keating’s blog, which covers VoIP news, telecom and gadgets, click here.
To read a white paper on the importance of governments having a unified communications system in place, especially when responding to an emergency, click here.