Commercial Real Estate Developer Leverages
The John Akridge Companies has more
than 10.7 million square feet of upmarket commercial real estate under its
management or in construction at 28 sites throughout the Washington, D.C.
area (18 are currently being managed and 10 are under construction). That
kind of business puts a lot of demand on a phone system. Tenants expect
great service, which means that Akridgeï¿½s concierge staff spends a lot of
time on the phone with corporate headquarters and other Akridge sites.
Construction crews at sites under development also need robust phone
communications. So, as Akridgeï¿½s business grew, it needed its phone system
to grow as well.
Unfortunately, the companyï¿½s PBX system hit the wall in 2002. Adding new
stations or additional trunks would have required an expensive upgrade to a
system whose long-term value would still remain uncertain. So it didnï¿½t make
sense to invest in a PBX overhaul. At the same time, Akridgeï¿½s management
wanted to leverage and preserve the investment it had already made in the
tried-and true PBX system.
Akridge had other clear objectives as well. Because its sites are spread
across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, inter-office calling costs -- billed as
ï¿½local toll callsï¿½ -- were getting too high. In fact, it sometimes cost more
to call a building several miles away than it did to call across the
Akridge also needed to control the costs associated with provisioning phone
service for the numerous construction trailers placed at its job sites
during early phases of building. Purchasing and installing telephone systems
and telephone lines at each of those sites was both costly and time
Akridge also wanted to have some form of disaster recovery/business
continuity in place for its phone service in the case of a prolonged power
outage, snowstorm, or other problem in the area. That preparedness was
important for securing the companyï¿½s financial well-being.
As an aggressive technology leader, Akridge had already installed fiber
connections to many of its buildings in order to provide high-speed Internet
access to its tenants. Akridge also uses wireless networking to extend those
connections to buildings where fiber is not available.
This robust network infrastructure provided a superb foundation for
deploying VoIP. After evaluating available VoIP products, Akridge decided to
go with bConvergentï¿½s OpenVoice IP
PBX Software with Quintum Technologies
Tenor Line of VoIP MultiPath Switches. The integrated solution was
well-suited to Akridgeï¿½s business objectives and offered a more
cost-effective overall solution than competing brands. Installation and
operation of the OpenVoice software and Tenor hardware also looked to be
easier and less time-consuming than alternative products.
Akridge installed two Quintum Tenor PRI switches in their main office
bridging the PRI connection between the local PSTN and their old PBX.
Combined with the OpenVoice software, this enabled Akridge to route inbound
calls to anywhere within their enterprise, and provide least cost routing
for outbound calls originating in the main office. Akridge also attached
Tenor analog gateways to eight remaining legacy PBX station ports to
effectively create direct dial IP ports allowing the company to scale the
system and add several new high-end IP speakerphones at the main office.
With the Tenor PRI switches in place, Akridge was able to install
Polycom IP phones on the desks of
senior executives within the main building and at the concierge offices of
its various remote buildings. Voice communications between these buildings
and the main office could thereby take place across the existing IP data
network -- via the fiber links and wireless connections that were already in
place. The bConvergent Open Voice Software was able to integrate the
existing PBX and the IP phones into the same dial plan so that the IP phones
worked with the existing PBX extensions seamlessly.
At the construction trailers, Akridge installed both Quintum switches and IP
telephones. The entire installation was completed in phases at a cost of
less than $20,000. The project was executed by in-house staff with
assistance from bConvergent. Special care was taken so that the cutover from
conventional voice to VoIP took place without any interruption to the
A Wealth of Benefits
Akridgeï¿½s VoIP implementation has been a huge success. The company has
realized several significant business benefits, including:
Reduced Toll Costs: Interoffice telephone calls now run over
Akridgeï¿½s own network, eliminating toll charges.
Greater Scalability: Akridgeï¿½s business growth is no longer limited
by its PBXï¿½s port capability.
Inexpensive, Robust Phone Capabilities on Construction Sites: The new
Quintum/bConvergent VoIP system gives remote users full access to main
office PBX functionality at a fraction of the cost.
Business Continuity: Akridge sites will now retain their ability to
communicate in the event that there is a failure of the IP network, the
public switched network or at the main office.
Just as important, Akridge can fully leverage the worldï¿½s most important
business tool -- the telephone -- to deliver superior customer service and
grow its business without being bogged down by factors such as
telecommunications costs or system scalability.
ï¿½bConvergentï¿½s IP-PBX software and Quintumï¿½s VoIP switches provide us with a
significant competitive advantage over companies that are still using
conventional phone systems,ï¿½ says Tommy Russo, Director of Technology for
Akridge. ï¿½This was a low-risk initiative that will generate substantial
returns on a relatively modest initial investment of capital and effort.ï¿½
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