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September 29, 2006

Five Star Global Hotel Chain Upgrades to VoIP Using NEC Solution

By Patrick Barnard, TMCnet Associate Editor

If you think about it, the hotel industry is an ideal proving ground for VoIP. With facilities spread throughout a region, country, or in fact the entire world, hotel chains stand to benefit tremendously from the efficiencies – and cost savings – that can be afforded through the installation of an all-IP communications system. Not only is switching to VoIP a logical business decision for hotel chains, their guests also stand to benefit from all the great things that VoIP can deliver, including cheaper calls and advanced call features (perhaps one day including real-time video). So VoIP not only brings better quality communications and cost savings for the hotel industry, it also results in increased profits via greater customer satisfaction

One hotel chain which is now fully upgraded to VoIP is the Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, which owns and operates a line of five-star luxury hotels in Asia and North America known as The Peninsula Hotels. The company announced yesterday that it had tapped NEC to install an integrated voice and data VoIP network system to link its facilities all together via VoIP. According to a press release, it is the first globally-connected VoIP network ever built for the hotel industry.

The new network is essentially an upgrade of the chain’s existing IP network, so there was minimal hardware involved, and thus it was built with minimal investment and completed in a short time. NEC (News - Alert) installed its IP Networking functionalities into the chain’s central IP-PBX (News - Alert) (in this case, NEC’s UNIVERGE NEAX 2400IPX), thus providing the backward compatibility needed to properly link the chain’s 14 hotels together. For the locations that use other vendors’ PBXs, NEC’s compact gateway systems, IPS-DM, were installed. This is a lower cost option compared to installing a new IP-PBX in each facility, plus the associated cabling.

Now the hotel chain can manage all of its reservations from a Global Customer Service Centre located in Hong Kong – plus, its employees can now communicate via VoIP, thus resulting in significant cost savings (consider that the company has hotels in Hong Kong, Manila, Bangkok, Beijing, New York, Chicago and Beverly Hills). Furthermore, each employee now has his or her own number which stays with them as long as they are working for the company – no matter what location they’re in. This means everyone in the company is essentially communicating via a peering (p2p) network. Perhaps best of all are the new features that are delivered through the new VoIP network – including caller number display from global locations and QoS control for voice in the IP-VPN environment. These new features, which are made possible through NEC’s CCIS over IP (Common Channel Interoffice Signaling over IP, a proprietary system to provide telephony service feature), will result in increased employee productivity.

“The Peninsula Hotels has been working to curb the cost of international calls since the communication among its hotels worldwide has become more frequent as a result of global expansion,” said Shane Izaks, general manager, information technology, of The Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, in the press release. “The new network system was built in response to this, and it will expand along with the establishment of new hotels.”

“NEC is one of our preferred vendors of PBX systems to The Peninsula Hotels,” Izaks added. “[The] building of the new network system signifies the hotel’s recognition of NEC’s technological capabilities to integrate voice and data, its ability to make a system proposal that efficiently utilizes the hotel's already existing IP-PBX assets, in addition to its proven track record.”

“NEC has a major market share for PBX in Hospitality, especially in Japan and Asia Pacific,” said Kazuo Tsuzuki, associate senior vice president of NEC Corporation. “NEC is now proposing the new UNIVERGE series of IP-PBX and IP Telephony server for the hotel industry. This implementation of VoIP network for The Peninsula Hotels has shown NEC's migration path from TDM PBX to IP capabilities.”

For more information about NEC visit www.nec.com.

What’s the number one VoIP conference in terms of attendance? What’s the leading VoIP expo for exhibitors in terms of lead generation? And which VoIP industry event will feature special attractions for service providers, resellers, and the enterprise and SMB market as well as an overview on the Future of IP Telephony? Answer: INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & Expo, WEST, which runs October 10-13, 2006. See you in San Diego!

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Patrick Barnard is Associate Editor for TMCnet and a columnist covering the telecom industry. To see more of his articles, please visit Patrick Barnard’s columnist page.

(source: http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/ip-services/articles/2867-five-star-global-hotel-cha-upgrades-voip-using.htm)

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