Nortel Wins $300M VOIP Deal

The Social Security Administration plans a move to VOIP in preparation for retiring baby boomers.

Nortel Networks is the contractor on a 10-year, $300 million project for the Social Security Administration, which is upgrading the telephone systems in its field offices to offer voice over IP.

The project is one of the largest deployments to date, Nortel officials said March 18.

The SSA intends to upgrade 1,600 field offices to IP telephony based on Nortel's Communication Server 1000 IP PBX, Nortel said. It will move off existing telephone systems and onto Nortel's Communication Server 1000 at 205 field offices in the first year, and then migrate 500 field offices a year as it moves to VOIP.

The TSRP (Telephone Systems Replacement Project) is intended to help the SSA better handle the coming influx of retiring baby boomers and provide more efficient call handling to more quickly connect callers to the experts who can answer their questions about Social Security, Nortel said.

The project will also include contact center, unified messaging and integrated voice response for as many as 55,000 SSA field agents. Those will be based on Nortel's Media Processing Server 500 IVR, Unified Messaging 2000 and CallPilot contact center systems. The contract also includes Nortel IP handsets.

"This validates our ability to do large-scale, mission-critical deployments," said Net Payne, vice president of North American marketing at Nortel.

At the VoiceCon show in Orlando, Fla., Nortel announced that, like its Innovative Communications Alliance partner Microsoft, it had penned a global deal to jointly deliver high-definition and telepresence videoconferencing with Tandberg.

Nortel, which already has a similar agreement with Polycom, will provide technology services around Tandberg's HD and Telepresence systems and offer those as a managed service.

Also at the show, Nortel announced that it had added a mobility extension to the latest release of its CS 1000 that integrates cell phones and smart phones into its call services.

It provides "a single interface between the desk and cell phone, five-digit dialing and seamless handoffs from the desk phone to the mobile phone. We're bringing unified communications to life by tying mobile into what you have in the office," Payne said.

CS 1000 Version 5.5, due in April, also provides a presence indicator to let co-workers know when the user is available or on the phone, including the mobile phone; the ability to move from one handset to another device without interrupting the call via a handoff button on the desk phone; and the ability to be identified by callers on a single phone line.

Nortel also updated its Mobile Communication 3100 fixed mobile convergence offering to allow phone calls to be handed off to a wireless LAN, available now. "It provides a seamless handoff between the internal corporate WLAN and the mobile device. It can save 30 percent of wireless costs," Payne said.