British Telecom (BT - news - alert) announced today that it will be switching its UK call centers to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol - define - news - alert)-based system thanks to a two-year plan created by a partnership with Nortel Networks (quote - news - alert).
BT wants to bundle 9,700 call center agents on 124 sites into a single virtual customer contact center. The UK telecom awarded a US$5 million contract to Nortel Networks for technology designed to link the agents into the virtual contact center. It was reported that the new system will replace BT's distributed infrastructure, based on Nortel Meridian private branch exchange (PBX) products.
According to the agreement, the telecom will integrate five Communication Server 1000 systems for the main sites in Gatwick, Cambridge, Walsall and Bristol and Edinburgh, UK. As agreed, BT will also get a Nortel desktop 2004 IP phone for each of the 9,700 call center agents and a Symposium Call Centre Server.
“It is imperative that BT's internal network continues to be developed to meet new business challenges as we constantly strive to deliver an excellent customer experience. This latest investment in Nortel industry-leading IP technology underlines our commitment and determination to build an infrastructure that will help facilitate that,” said Neil Hemming, general manager for Channel & Market Development in Convergent Solutions, BT Global Services.
With Nortel IP Contact Center solutions in place, BT will be able to create a virtual contact center that covers wide geographic areas through out multiple time zones, ensuring the most appropriate agent available handles each caller's needs promptly. Rather than maintaining separate voice and data infrastructures, both can be converged into one. BT expects to operate more efficiently and reduce staffing, management and training costs with the new voice system.
The deal will also include Nortel’s Symposium Call Center Server. Nortel says the server was designed on an industry-standard platform to enable real-time data and host data exchange; advanced call handling with the capability of multimedia transaction handling; and Web-enabled functionality. In addition, almost 10,000 Nortel 2004 IP phones will be deployed to BT’s internal contact center agents.
In a separate announcement, BT just agreed to buy out its three joint venture partners to take full ownership of Italian business communications firm Albacom. BT will acquire the 74 percent of Albacom that it doesn't already own from Eni SpA, BNL and Mediaset SpA, for a minimum price of 116 million euros, or about US$155 million. Of this amount, $73.5 million will be deferred for five years, and may be increased if Albacom's profits in 2008 and 2009 exceed certain target levels. BT plans to close this acquisition by January 2005.
|Johanne Torres is contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was
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