Integrator gives JB Hi-Fi a new voice

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Voice and data integrator Business Integration Solutions (BIS) has won a contract to provide an IP telephony network to music and entertainment retailer JB Hi-Fi.

The contract-–worth up to $400,000 to the integrator over the next 12 months--would see it progressively replace an ageing Commander PBX system with VoIP services across JB's 30 store nationwide WAN.

JB has initially purchased eight Nortel Networks' Business Communication Manager (BCM) boxes, which provide unified messaging, multi-media call centre and wireless capabilities in one system. It would also install 50 Nortel Succession i2002 IP handsets, 64 unified messaging clients and 64 CallPilot voice messaging clients.

The BCM's let JB treat telephone calls as network traffic over the WAN. Each call uses minimum bandwidth and JB expects voice calls between its head office in Brighton, Victoria and branch offices to cost next to nothing. The i2002 phone is claimed to be suited to moderate call users such as JB, according to Nortel.

Frank Nola, business director at Business Integration Solutions (part of The Convergency Group) said the retailer would save money on phone calls and is in a “nice position” for data and voice to co-exist on the network.

He said call costs would be “miniscule” on the new virtual private network (VPN) compared to what the company was paying using its existing PBX telephone system. The retailer could potentially rollout up to 20 BCMs by the time the project is completed, he said. A team of five BIS staff are working on the project.

Business Integration Solutions had already completed around 12 IP telephony rollouts prior to the JB deal, with Victorian local government departments, VIC Education and private enterprises, according to Nola.

He said the sales cycle with JB took up to eight months to complete and it was a “matter of convincing the client about the real business benefits".Like most networking hardware products, the profit margins on the BCMs are “tiny”, but margins are “reasonable” on the associated services and maintenance work, Nola said.

He said one of the BCM's strengths is its ability to handle large customers with many sites. BIS has a further four to five potential IP telephony deals in NSW and Victoria ready to roll, Nola said.

BIS and Nortel defeated telecommunications vendors such as 3Com, Avaya, Cisco, Ericsson, LG, Commander and Panasonic to the JB deal.

BIS has been in operation for 14 years, predominantly as a data integrator but moved into voice three years ago when it acquired the Victorian franchise of Ericssson's enterprise business unit.


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