Emirates Bank adopts IP telephony

Emirates Bank is migrating the telephony system in its head office to Internet Protocol as part of an organisation-wide convergence drive.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  January 23, 2005

|~|newsstory2_m.jpg|~||~|Emirates Bank is implementing an Avaya-based solution in its Dubai head office as part of a wide-ranging plan to take its telephone systems to internet protocol (IP) across the group. “Two years ago we set up a call centre using Avaya technology and although we looked at IP, we decided not to go for it then,” says Nadeem Busheri, manager of IT operations, Emirates Bank. “However, with the liberalisation of telecom laws in the region, we feel it is now the right time to migrate to IP telephony,” he explains. The head office has 500 workers, with approximately 25 users being hooked up to IP phones in the first phase of the rollout. The move to IP technology is designed to give Emirates Bank greater convenience and manageability. “Adaptability and convenience are the two main benefits from the IP telephony system,” says Busheri. “With an IP phone, you can unplug it from one desk and plug it in at another desk and it will recognise it and work,” he adds. With an Alcatel TDM system already in place, rolling out is challenging. “We are using an Alcatel PBX, so it is essential that the Avaya solution integrates seamlessly,” says Muhammed Aslam Malik, manager of network and communications at Emirates Bank. “We complemented the PBX with the Qsig open signaling protocol. It allowed us to easily pull the systems together and share the extensions from the Alcatel PBX on to the Avaya system and vice versa. This meant we didn’t have to make any major changes,” he explains. Emirates Bank has also lauded its investment in IP-enabled switches from Nortel, which support Power over Ethernet (PoE) and quality of service (QoS) features. The former allows the connection of phones without a separate power cable and the latter allows administrators to allocate bandwidth for voice and data. Furthermore, Mailk is quick to dismiss talk that converging voice and data to one network could lead to greater voice downtime. “The data network has resilience built-in,” he says. “We have Nortel switches on the LAN side and Cisco on the WAN side, with redundancy built into every point of the network. This means that we are migrating our voice service to a very robust infrastructure.” The company has already built Avaya IP telephony into branches of subsidiary Emirates Islamic Bank in August 2004 and also has plans to take its contact centre completely on to IP by February 2005. Mailk takes the view that IP is the way forward and not just for the bank but for business in general. “The future will be based on IP telephony,” says Malik. “We are moving to era of Enum, which will tie all of a person’s identities, including fax and e-mail, to one number. We believe it’s important to keep up,” he adds. Enum tallies each telephone number with a unique IP address, which will allow network elements to find services on the internet using a telephone number. This mapping also allows telephones to access internet services straight from the keypad.||**||

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