Cambridgeshire County Council has saved £1.2m over two years after installing voice over IP technology.
The savings, which were made by reducing telephone and travelling expenses, are expected to increase as the council uses the system to reduce the amount of office space it requires.
The council installed a converged network including IP telephony software from Avaya to allow the same level of telephony services for users in offices at different locations. Previously, different sites in the county were served by BT and ntl, with service levels varying.
The council is planning to reduce the amount of office space it uses by allowing employees to hot-desk. It is in the process of moving workers from multiple locations into a single building, and extending its VoIP service is expected to make the migration process easier.
So far, 500 of the council's 4,000-plus staff have migrated from fixed-line telephony provided by ntl to an in-house VoIP service.
"We could not achieve flexible working using dedicated numbers with dedicated phones, which is why the number portability function of VoIP - where their numbers follow staff regardless of which workstation they log into - appealed," said Alan Shields, technical architect at Cambridgeshire County Council.
Shields advised IT managers running a VoIP service in-house not to underestimate the challenges VoIP presents. "It is not just plugging phones into PCs. Real-time applications must happen in real time, and unless you have experience in video conferencing, you need to understand how to administer quality of service."
The council chose Avaya because of its use of open standards and because the system integrated well with its existing IT infrastructure.
"The majority of the products that we run are Microsoft. Ultimately, we will be looking to converge on this platform with the addition of presence technology," said Shields.