19 December 2013
From its origins as an organisation offering advice about matters relating to life in war-torn Britain during WW2, the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has evolved into a complex mix of more than 400 individual charities, serving over two million people each year via 3,300 offices across the UK.
Juggling increasingly high demand for services with constricted budgets, the offices desperately needed the efficiencies possible through using modern telecoms technology but did not have the budget for such a massive investment. In 2012, the issues associated with legacy calling features came to the surface at the large CAB office in Wavertree which often collaborates with colleagues in nearby Netherley to serve client needs around the clock.
Both offices have legacy Nortel Business Communication Manager (BCM) platforms. Rather than replacing these, the CAB decided to improve operational efficiency and reduce running costs by integrating innovative communications technology at the edge of the network. Liverpool-based networking services provider Locall.Net was called in to develop a complete and modern telecoms solution.
Its first recommendation was to replace expensive ISDN links to the PSTN with SIP trunks that would carry voice calls across the IP network. This would also enable the use VoIP for all external communications. Locall.Net kept the BCMs at the core of the network, which allowed the CAB offices in Wavertree and Netherley to continue their existing call routing and dial-plan configurations.
The BRI lines which were used to terminate the ISDN service from the PSTN at each site were then cutover to a Sangoma Vega50 Gateway (pictured left). This provides the TDM-to-IP conversion of voice calls. It also interconnects the BCM at each site to the IP router that terminates the SIP trunks supplied by Gradwell. Locall.Net MD Sean Gallagher says not only did this minimise service disruption and reduce the deployment time, it also eliminated the need for user training, thus quickening the path to a financial payback.
“The flexibility and simple configurability of the Sangoma gateways virtually eliminates any concern about integration of the legacy Nortel equipment with IP routers and wide-area SIP trunking services. The Vega50s are proven to work out of the box with less than 10 minutes of configuration time. This in itself gave us the confidence to eliminate the cost of pre-configuration and testing in our facility and ship the gateways directly to the CAB sites,” he says.
Following the installation, staff were able to automatically route calls to colleagues according to their availability and varied business hours. Sharing the workload between centres and simplifying the ability of advisers to easily consult with experts at other sites has not only improved the CAB’s efficiency, but has also helped it to resolve client enquiries in a single call.