BT and Cisco announced today they have deepened their longstanding collaboration by a breakthrough in unified communications (UC), with the launch of a global "cloud" based IPT solution from BT's Onevoice UCC portfolio. Together, the two companies are launching a scalable, business-grade, global hosted IP Telephony service, which allows businesses to dramatically reduce upfront investment costs whilst accelerating the adoption of UC on a global scale. BT is engaging closely with Cisco Services to build the underlying virtualised infrastructure for service delivery.
The hosted IP telephony service represents the world's first global offering based on Cisco® Hosted UC services as the platform for collaborative voice communications. It allows businesses to bring converged voice, mobile and data services to every desktop in their organisation, using BT and Cisco's cloud computing-based technologies. Companies that are tightly managing their capital expenditure will be able to take a first step into converged communications by consuming their IP telephony, voicemail, conferencing and unified messaging technologies on a utility-based, per-user pricing model.
Available now in the UK, the hosted IPT service from BT will also be available to businesses in the United States and EMEA in 2010 followed by Asia Pacific. Businesses will be able to benefit from having all their UC needs hosted over BT's next generation 21CN global platform and secure data centres. Coupled with BT's Onevoice services, BT can rapidly deploy services to both large and small sites, offering significant call savings as well as operational predictability.
Chris Barnard, European Telecommunications and Networking Research Director at analyst firm IDC, said: "The current macroeconomic climate favours hosted IP telephony. The service is based on an operating expenditure model and offers the flexibility, low risk, and cost control now required by companies facing an uncertain future."
One BT customer, which has already been using the service in the UK, is the National Health Service's national broadband network, N3.
N3 connects more than 1.3 million UK health sector employees and is using BT Hosted IPT technology, which it calls N3 Hosted Voice Services, to provide free on-network calls and considerably cheaper mobile phone connections between medical sites.
Dr Inderjit Marok, Practice head at Rotton Park Medical Centre in Birmingham, said: "N3 Hosted Voice Service has enabled us to make considerable savings, which pretty much offsets the cost of renting the required IP phones. So we have an all new system at no extra cost, while we are saving around 20 per cent against our previous call bills."
Neil Sutton, vice president, global portfolio, BT Global Services, said: "Businesses today typically have multiple, fragmented, disparate IT and telephony infrastructures that restrict effective communication. BT and Cisco's collaboration on this innovative, cloud-based unified communications system will help businesses reduce capital expenditure in this difficult time, while giving them the ability to introduce productivity enhancing tools."
Chris Dedicoat, president of Cisco Europe, said: "Cisco and BT are deepening our established collaboration today to introduce a truly transformational unified communications solution delivered through the cloud at a compelling price point. We believe this new hosted offering will help accelerate our combined ability to bring the benefits of unified communications to more customers globally."