ENZA is making savings of at least 50% on its toll calls — amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars — by utilising voice over data on frame relay, the first large New Zealand organisation to adopt the technology.
“We’ve had very few problems with it, we are much more secure, and our costs are stabilised,” says IT manager Dennis O’Neil.
The project grew out of an approach made to ENZA by GDC Communications in February 1996. The proposal was evaluated and received board approval that August.
In September, GDC rolled out NEC 7400 PABX platforms to 15 ENZA sites in New Zealand. Over the next two months, Motorola frame relay access devices were rolled out, and in November were connected to the PABXs to provide voice over data.
In January, ENZA began an international rollout to its offices in Singapore, London and Belgium. O’Neil says this may be extended to Canada and the US and to Chile, depending on the infrastructure there.
Communications manager Paul Knox says ENZA now has a statistitical base to do trend analysis. “We’ve achieved a level of cost savings on calling patterns as they were at the start of the project but the use of the technology has grown to such an extent that the original cost model has been well and truly exceeded.”
He says the percentage of savings on the initial model is at least 50% and tending to 60% for toll calls, and that overall costs, including the data network, are down 20%.
“It wasn’t overly hard to implement but we had to be very precise with a detailed planning process. In principle, we rolled out on time and within budget and specification. There’s nothing new in the technology, but in New Zealand we would be considered an early adopter.”
GDC primed the contract and provided the PABXs and project management. Netway provided the frame relay, and Megadyne two 6500 series Motorola frame routers, which provide translations for multiple protocols.
O’Neil observes that there is a tradeoff for Telecom, which is ENZA’s primary telecommunications supplier. “Telecom must learn to cope with voice over data. If they don’t supply it, someone else will. However, our volume growth offsets some of the lost revenue for Telecom on toll calls.”
The volume growth has been driven by issues outside the communications environment, he says. “We’ve got more distributed hardware now, we’re making more use of email, and we’re going through a cultural change.
“Frame relay has been very responsive to growth. We’re very pleased with the whole process.”
The project cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, though ENZA funded it through operating leases from Rentworks.
ENZA and Zespri (the former Kiwifruit Marketing Board) have recently issued a request for information for an end-to-end system replacement.