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Making the Vall on VoIP

An unforeseen disaster prompted Lexent to move to VoIP before the scheduled changeover. But the move proved a blessing in disguise.

"We had been planning to test voice over IP as part of our IPsec IP security VPN deployment, says Charles Arduini, Lexent's CTO. "After 9/11, we saw how voice over IP would help with business continuity. That confirmed for us that VoIP was the way to go."

A few weeks later, Lexent began installing VoIP at its headquarters and then at its first remote office, a new site in Hicksville, N.Y., where it moved some of its operations group from Long Island City. It cost the company about $26,000 to install the VoIP system at the new office, versus the $36,000 it would have cost for a new PBX system.

It took only about a day to get VoIP running at the site since the underlying VPN was already operational. "Voice over IP can be more reliable and is quicker to install," Arduini says. A single-day installation isn't "something you can do when you have a new PBX to put in."

Lexent is now installing VoIP at the rest of its 12 remote sites on the company's new, nationwide IP VPN.

The IP-based voice and data infrastructure has already paid for itself, Arduini says. The company spent less than $200,000 on the voice-data VPN. Arduini says he doesn't have hard ROI (return on investment) numbers yet, but he knows the returns already have been positive. The VPN replaced Lexent's private frame relay WAN, which had cost the company $400,000 to $500,000 a year in network charges.

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