Network supplier Nortel Networks will spend $6m on a voice-on-Wi-Fi project - which, it claims, will save it $28m in one year - by giving all Nortel employees a softphone on their laptop and/or PDAs.
Most of the huge savings will come from cutting the company's mobile phone bill, said Nortel marketing leader Peter Finter.
"We are seeing home-based workers reduce their mobile phone bill by shifting phone calls to their fixed rate broadband connection." Executives will save 60% of their mobile bills as well as using hotspots instead of mobiles for calls abroad. The mobile sales team will save 40% of its bill by synchronising at hotspots.
Wireless networking alone had a weak cost-benefit case, said Finter, but if it is used to cut the vast amount spent on mobile calls it can save plenty of money.
People use expensive mobiles even within their office building, if they are away from their desk, which has led BT to propose routing internal calls over Bluetooth. Other parts of Nortel support DECT for in-building digital voice, and there are opportunities for the three standards.
Users will use the softphone in preference to their mobile phone because the system routes calls to it. The laptop or PDA will ring, and it contains your Outlook phonebook, so will be easier to use than the mobile.
In future, the system will be extended to include multimedia communications, with whiteboards and video conferencing, so the pitch offers benefits as well as cost savings, said Finter.
The company is using its own softphone and network equipment, which is designed to handle hand-offs between access points but is paying itself for them properly, as well as using a third-party service provider to manage the project. Users are given plug-in or Bluetooth headsets, and the training costs are minimal because the softphone is configured to resemble the office phone.
"The $6m includes all the costs associated with the project," said Finter.
Peter Judge writes for Techworld.com