Retail group House of Fraser is rolling out IP telephony across 50 stores in the UK to slash costs and improve network efficiency.
The three-year project, to be conducted in three phases, will see the implementation of IP communications technologies from Mitel Networks and networking from Enterasys, formerly Cabletron.
The system will allow the routing of voice traffic over a wide area network and offer a single infrastructure for wired and wireless devices.
Andrew Darley, network infrastructure manager at House of Fraser, told vnunet.com that the implementation would reduce cabling costs and increase flexibility and scalability of the network.
Four stores are already up and running with the Mitel Networks 3300 and a range of IP phones and management tools, which replaced legacy PBXs, some of which were more than 10 years old.
"IP means a person can be anywhere; all we need to do is give people IP phones. It means we have a nice smooth migration path. But we don't want to do it all until the cost of IP phones comes down," said Darley.
The new voice and data network should allow House of Fraser to save around £30,000 per shop over conventional voice and data costs, a significant saving on each store's IT budget of £400,000 to £500,000.
"It allows us to do something we have to do anyway cheaper but also a lot better."
Mitel reseller Prime Networks is helping House of Fraser with the roll-out, providing expertise on merging the technologies, doing all configuration work and offering a one-stop shop for support for the retailer.
House of Fraser is paying £90,000 a year for support across the four sites already up and running.
"It's not a great deal cheaper following the best-of-breed approach. But we felt confident that what we're doing will last; confident enough to sign a seven-year lease," said Darley.
House of Fraser hopes to introduce a centralised call centre across all stores in the long term. There are also plans for wireless devices, including handhelds for customer ordering, which will run off the IP network.
"With this implementation there won't be anything that's redundant. It's about future-proofing," said Darley.
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