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ACT Government Looks to Slash Phone Costs

ACT Government Looks to Slash Phone Costs

The ACT Government is increasingly confident it can slash its annual communications bill by a third with the IP telephony solution it plans to roll out by the end of the year.

InTACT converged networks program director Richard Hart says the Government has already made significant progress on the initiative, which is being advanced in partnership with Canberra's communications provider TransACT Capital Communications.

InTACT, the ACT Government's insourced IT service provider, selected TransACT - which is partly owned by the ACT Government - after a Request for Tender (RFT) process which began more than two years ago.

TransACT recently completed a proof-of-concept for the project and the team is about to move into pre-production trials in a demonstration environment.

"This first stage of the project, which was to move to TransACT as our preselected carrier for long-distance calls and calls to mobile, was completed in February and is yielding in full the savings that we expected for that part of the project," Hart says

"Now we're doing a preproduction trial which we're calling the user demonstration environment, which allows us to do some final refinement to the design and configuration user functionality issues to make sure we have mapped the right function to the right button if you like.

"We will be moving in the middle of next month to production pilots in Intact itself which will involve one hundred users and include a full range of capabilities - so call centre, phone, we'll be putting in our own helpdesk, and our own caller intake centre on the pilot."

The TransACT solution is designed to complement the optical fibre data network the ACT Government is currently implementing.

The voice services contract - to cover all government fixed phones, facsimile services and call centre functionality - is for a Voice Over IP (VoIP) solution to be delivered in association with Dimension Data and Cisco. According to Hart it will enable 15,500 public servants in 300 locations to keep their Telstra-issued phone numbers when they receive their new Cisco telephone sets and begin making calls over the data network. He says a further 12,500 employees will receive new IP phones, while 3500 desks will have their analog phones upgraded to work with the network.

The contract for a converged network will deliver IP telephony to all the ACT Government's instrumentalities.

"What we've done is over a period of several years is moved to analyze our telecommunications requirements, probably in a way unprecedented for the Territory, and go to the market in such a way that we can give the widest range of organizations the opportunity to bid for pieces of that work, while at the same time keeping a strategic focus in mind," Hart says.

"We expect very significant cost savings. In broad terms we're reducing overall telecommunications spend by a third, which is pretty impressive."

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