Avoid the worst work-from-home fallout

Market research firm Advanis tells a recent panel discussion in Calgary how it addressed a major network challenge affecting its distributed employee base

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IT managers and technology professionals from the Calgary area recently gathered at the city’s Hôtel Le Germain to watch Allstream’s live experts panel discuss the benefits and challenges of adopting SIP trunking. One of the afternoon’s highlights was a walk-through of a real-life SIP trunking implementation with customer panelist Geoff Hansen, Senior VP of IT for Advanis, a local market research firm that operates several remote call centres across the province.

The IT Challenge

As Hansen explained to attendees and fellow panelists, Advanis went through a growth period during which the company expanded its call centre facilities to allow employees to work at home from any geographic region. This arrangement filled the company’s staffing needs, but it also doubled long distance expenses because agents had to first connect to the call centre, then call out again to customers. With up to 400,000 interactive voice response surveys carried out each month, long distance charges became a major business challenge.

The SIP Trunking Solution

Advanis began to search for a telecommunications solution that would reduce long distance rates by transmitting voice traffic across its data lines. This would not only save Avanis money, it would simplify its communications infrastructure while maintaining the call centre flexibility it needed.

“We went to tender and talked to a number of different providers,” Hansen said. “Allstream just seemed to have the best grasp of what we needed and how to make it happen.” Advanis connected its offices and sites with a SIP-enabled MPLS network, a solution that included 100 digital trunk equivalents and 75 alternate trunks in Toronto. With SIP trunking in place, Advanis set up local numbers for survey respondents in both Toronto and Waterloo—an important feature as callers prefer local calling over a 1-800 number.

The Benefits

By converging voice and data onto a SIP-enabled MPLS network, Advanis realized some immediate benefits, including :

  • greatly reducing its long distance expenses
  • maintaining presence in key national markets without the associated long distance costs
  • reducing office space requirements
  • expanding staff mobility options.

The move has also greatly simplified network and equipment management. “We’ve got all of our telephony in one location now,” Hansen said, “which means we don’t have to maintain any kind of telephony or PBX infrastructure at our remote locations. All of our phone calls out to our agents are now local, not long distance, and we can have a local presence in an area code where we have no physical location.”

Advanis has also enhanced its business continuity capabilities, with the company now able connect to its network from several different regions and to switch its calls to MPLS if the T1 lines go down. Plans are in place to further enhance business continuity by installing SIP trunking over an Internet connection. “With a SIP-Internet connection in place, we’ll have the further option of putting out calls over the Internet to my co-location facility,” Hansen explained. “That’s going to make it a lot easier to handle a situation where my main data centre is offline.”

Advanis continues to evolve its network infrastructure to seek out new efficiencies and cost savings. “Moving to a SIP trunking solution has been a very positive experience,” Hansen said. “We’re now thinking about expanding to Montreal.”

You can also read about the recent Allstream Experts Forum events in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa. We’ll be posting coverage of our Mississauga events in the coming weeks. To download the “SIP E-book: Complete Buyers Guide for SIP Trunking” and to view other SIP related articles and videos, visit our Network Convergence Resource Center.

Get your Free download of the SIP Trunking eBook: The Complete Buyer’s Guide for IT and Business Decision Makers to learn how your business can benefit.


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