16th January 2005 - United Co-operatives, one of the largest retail co-operatives in Europe, is gearing up to trial a Voice over IP network from Evoxus to reduce connectivity costs across its many food, travel and funeral branches, and to allow for the smooth introduction of end user applications such as Chip and Pin.
With a turnover in excess of £1.7bn and over 15,000 staff employed from the Midlands to Cumbria and from Northern Ireland to the East Coast of Yorkshire, the Society offers a wide range of services, which include food stores, travel, motor dealerships, pharmacies, funeral homes, and a number of other subsidiaries. Over the past year it has invested in a broadband ADSL network from Evoxus and is now benefitting from the increased bandwidth and fixed costs. The likely savings figures will be in excess of £1million across all contracts associated with this development.
“With such a large estate we inevitably have to deal with the complexity of different networks and technologies,” explains Ian Dyson, General Manager Information Services of United Co-operatives. “We’ve decided to trial an IP solution with 40 of our users initially, the aim being to make the workforce more flexible and to drive down costs. More importantly, using the Evoxus solution, we can install VoIP at a network level and therefore protect our investment in legacy equipment.”
“The latest research indicates that 44 per cent of the world's corporate telephone lines may well be IP-based by 2008,” comments Mark Lower, CEO of Evoxus. “But a separate survey found that most IT managers have been reluctant to write off the substantial investments already made in analogue PBX systems by replacing them with VoIP. Unlike competitive VoIP offerings, the Evoxus solution is installed at a network level using SIP* which means that our customers are not required to replace legacy equipment. In essence we’re de-risking the move to VoIP!”
* Background to SIP
SIP is an abbreviation of Session Initiation Protocol. It is an internet Standard and as the name describes, it allows users to initiate sessions. These sessions can be simple voice calls or videoconferencing. SIP is an official Internet Protocol standard and it is quickly becoming the de facto VoIP standard.
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Evoxus is the new trading name for EEscape in the business market. It is one of the fastest growing telcos in the country and the UK’s first true ‘IP generation’ communications company. Evoxus is one of a new breed of telecommunications companies that has IP telephony and voice-data convergence at the heart of its service offering. The company recently announced that it has become the first UK carrier to complete a PSTN interconnect from BT to a VoIP (Voice over IP) Carrier exchange.
Established in 1999 as a joint venture between BT Group (49% owned), Unisys (25.5%) and Bank of Scotland (25.5%), EEscape was the UK’s first true e-telecommunications company. Trading as Quip!, the company was created to target high, international spending residential telephony customers.
From sign up to customer relationship management, billing and payment collection, every stage of EEscape’s service was performed online through a web portal. In 2001, the company diversified, offering full ‘white label’ consumer services to retail brands such as Argos, Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Since then the company has grown and developed, although it has always been true to its innovative traditions. Today, under the new brand of Evoxus, the company provides voice services to the consumer and business market whilst also providing wholesale services to resellers in the telephony market. However, it is in the IP-arena that they are leading the way, with a commitment to make ‘carrier grade’ IP telephony a reality.
The company operates out of two main locations, Worton Drive, Reading and Selsdon Way, Docklands, London.
Each site has a high specification computer suite and accompanying office accommodation. A current generation Ericsson AXE10 public network switch is housed in each site, both of which are dual fed with fibre optic cables from multiple carriers. A Telsis Intelligent Network platform supports advanced number translation services (0845, 0870, 09xx) and other complex routing services.
The UK’s first true carrier grade Huawei Soft switch SX3000 was installed and operational at the Reading site in July 2003.
A second SX3000 complete with Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) compliant software has recently been installed (May 2004) at the Docklands site. The SX3000 passed BT interconnect testing in November 2004 and is the first full carrier class IP switch in Europe to be connected to the UK PSTN. The switch is currently supporting a number of beta trials of Hosted IP PBX, IP Centrex. Evoxus is using the trials to develop a full IP service for commercial launch in Q1, 2005.
The company currently employs 70 people, including Executive Directors, 4 senior functional managers, 36 in Operations, 11 in Sales, Marketing and Products and 8 in Finance.
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