RealTime IT News

BofA Banking on VoIP

Bank of America today became the second marquee company in as many weeks to choose Voice over IP as a way to cut costs and improve productivity.

The bank plans to install 180,000 IP phones in 5,800 facilities in 29 states and Washington, D.C., over three years. Cisco will supply the phones and networking equipment for the project, which EDS will monitor.

In all, the bank will replace 362 private branch exchanges (PBXs) with Cisco's IP Communications System. Besides IP telephony, the offering enables unified messaging, audio and videoconferencing and other features.

Rob Lopez, a Cisco spokesman, said Bank of America has been a Cisco customer for 10 years and began moving toward an IP system in March. If the project reaches its stated goal, the bank's deployment will be one of Cisco's largest, he said.

Financial terms of the agreement weren't disclosed, nor was the amount of money Bank of America would save by using VoIP technology.

A bank spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. In a statement, Steve Venezia, Bank of America's managing director of network computing, said, "The Cisco IP Communications system allows us to eliminate hundreds of private branch exchanges (PBXs) in favor of a single, centralized, IP-based call control system,"

In addition to long-distance savings, companies moving to IP systems expect to cut maintenance costs because they have only one network to manage. Also, IP telephony services makes handling employee moves more efficient; businesses can scale up or down without calling vendors or ordering new cards. That cost could be significant in a company the size of Bank of America.

The bank's VoIP announcement is the second prominent corporate customer to announce a shift to VoIP in as many weeks. Ford Motor Co. said it will move 50,000 employees at 110 facilities to VoIP calling.

In that pact, SBC Communications will design, install and manage the project using IP phones and network equipment from Cisco.

When these companies put their faith in Cisco IP Communications, it certainly sends a positive message to other companies that may be contemplating making a move themselves," Cisco's Lopez said about VoIP moves by Bank of America, Ford and Boeing.

For more information on enterprise VoIP, see internetnews.com's In Focus: A Starter Kit on VoIP.