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UK.Gov embarks on Unified Communications Route

UK Government departments soon will be able to achieve significantly increased efficiencies and cost savings following the launch of Global Crossing Unified Communications, a new service announced today developed by Global Crossing based on the HiPath 8000 softswitch from Siemens Enterprise Communications.

Global Crossing Unified Communications provides customers with fully managed hosted IP Telephony, collaboration, and messaging solutions over a single, converged IP network designed to improve productivity, consolidate diverse systems, and maximize efficiencies.

“With this initiative, Government is breaking new ground by adopting a uniquely flexible, ‘secure communications anywhere’ IP-based managed solution,” confirms Anthony Christie, managing director, UK and Europe, Global Crossing. “By implementing this solution, they will contribute a key element to the HM Government’s broader transformation goals, which include reducing infrastructure costs, by ensuring staff can work effectively as they deliver high-quality public services, wherever they are located.”

This service is one of the first deliverables of an agreement between the two companies that ultimately will create a range of hosted services based on Siemens’ award-winning HiPath 8000 Softswitch platform. The debut of the new service also complements Global Crossing’s recent confirmation of the Managed Telephony Service (Mts) four-year contract extension delivered through

“The long standing partnership between Siemens and Global Crossing means the Government has the expertise behind the roll out of this new hosted secure telephony system, to lead the way in the creation of a completely flexible working environment,” said David Leighton, sales director public sector, Siemens Enterprise Communications. “This strategy embodies Siemens’ open communications strategy of simple and straightforward communications regardless of time, device or location. The open SIP platform provides unsurpassed scalability, flexibility and the highest level of security to meet the critical requirements of Government departments.”

Global Crossing’s Unified Communications is available via a secure Government Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (IP VPN). It provides voice services though a hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solution that is designed to meet the high-level requirements of the criminal justice system and secure Central Government environments, such as HMRC and the Treasury. The company plans to develop a version of the service for multinational corporations.

The hosted IP Telephony feature set of Unified Communications provides a number of major benefits to Government organisations, including charges calculated on a per-user basis, which help the customer avoid an up-front capital investment. This means operating costs will be significantly reduced and, at the same time, will be simpler to identify and control. Secondly, by embedding telephony, voice presence, data presence and a unified user interface within a hosted solution, Global Crossing can deliver the cost savings, operational efficiencies and service quality the Government requires. Finally, Unified Communications is a managed solution in which Global Crossing assumes responsibility for maintaining full operational effectiveness in line with any established service level agreements (SLAs).

Government now can provide its employees the ability to access calls simply via a laptop, wherever they are located, enhancing an organisation’s disaster recovery processes. The service also helps organisations implement solutions that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions.

With a strong focus globally on environmental and ‘green’ issues, there is continuing pressure to -- among other things -- minimise CO2 emissions, so the ability of the hosted IP Telephony solution to support flexible home and other remote working solutions becomes even more critical. Together with collaboration solutions, such as video and Web conferencing, this solution will reduce the need for individuals to travel to meetings and for organisations to depend on costly Central London real-estate.

The new initiative represents a significant investment in technology for Global Crossing UK and will take the company to the forefront of IP-based unified services. The first phase will deliver IP telephony services to the desktop, hosted from a highly resilient and secure carrier-class soft switch in Global Crossing’s core network. The Siemens’ HiPath8000 Soft switch platform utilises SIP standards and provides switching between SIP users, PSTN services, and legacy network users. The second phase will introduce presence-based features and collaboration tools that will drive productivity savings.

The foundation of the Siemens HiPath 8000 and OpenScape allows government departments to seamlessly move to a secure, converged, open standards based environment at their own pace. Both the HiPath 8000 softswitch platform and OpenScape are based on secure open standards and integrate into existing IT infrastructure and business processes.

Global Crossing UK Telecommunications Ltd. provides a full range of managed telecommunications services in a secure environment ideally suited for IP-based business applications. The company provides managed voice, data, Internet and e-commerce solutions to the strong and established commercial customer base, including more than 90 UK government departments under its other government framework contract, Managed Telecommunications Service (Mts), which serves more than 125,000 users.

Global Crossing UK operates a high-capacity UK network comprised of 10,000 route kilometers of fiber-optic cable connecting 150 towns and cities and reaching within two kilometers of 64 percent of UK businesses.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.