Sandwich and snack retailer Pret A Manger expects to cut voice call costs by channelling telephony over its existing broadband data network.
The company, which finished installing VoIP in its 130 UK stores at the end of June, estimates it will save £10,000 a month by running calls across its existing BT IPstream DSL virtual private network.
The VoIP system was developed by IT integrator Redstone Communications and allows Pret to make additional savings by routing external calls to suppliers through the cheapest telephony operator.
"We have a lot of internal traffic between shops and to and from head office, so once we have bedded it down we will save an awful lot of money on line rental," said Andrew Walker, IT director at Pret.
The system uses Cisco's Call Manager technology at Pret's head office, which links to Cisco ATA 186 analogue-to-IP connectors in each shop.
These then convert calls from Pret's existing Avaya Index PBX and analogue handsets into a digital format suitable to be carried over the DSL network.
In addition to free calls within the Pret store network, the new system enables head office to monitor the phone network centrally and provide stores with billing for other calls. The company expects to see a return on investment within six months.
"Internal communications are integral to the [company] ethos," said Walker. "We wanted a cost-effective solution that would enable us to centralise resource, work well as a team and keep overheads under control."
He added that the BT IPstream VPN for data, installed 18 months ago, is helping to process sales information more quickly, and to communicate training information across its retail network.
"It is allowing us to collect sales information each night from all our stores," explained Walker.
"Our web-based HR system also uses the DSL network and gives employees access to our knowledge network portal providing important information like health and safety details."
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