Agriculture dept digs up VoIP

The federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has flagged plans to migrate to a hybrid Internet Protocol-based (IP) telephony system, keeping its options open on a full unified communications move. DAFF is a super-department overseeing some 13 agencies, with the overall aim of ensuring more sustainable, competitive and profitable Australian agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry industries.

The federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has flagged plans to migrate to a hybrid Internet Protocol-based (IP) telephony system, keeping its options open on a full unified communications move.

DAFF is a super-department overseeing some 13 agencies, with the overall aim of ensuring more sustainable, competitive and profitable Australian agriculture, food, fisheries and forestry industries. According to its latest published annual report, in June 2005, it employed some 3,700 staff.

In tender documents released this week, the department noted it currently operated an Ericsson MD110 traditional TDM-based PABX system with some 4,200 extensions. However, DAFF has successfully trialled Ericsson's IP PABX and handsets and is now seeking to move to full IP telephony.

According to the documents, DAFF appears to require a hybrid VoIP/TDM system, as they state the new technology will need to support some 600 legacy analog devices, as well as 3500 IP handsets. DAFF is looking to buy some 2800 IP handsets as part of the new system, along with a small number of analog handsets.

The department listed telephony integration with Microsoft's Outlook/Exchange collaboration suite as a desirable option to be pursued in future.

"[DAFF] is investigating the business benefits for introducing a unified messaging system. The Request for Tender process offers the opportunity to explore the capabilities and evaluate your unified messaging solution," the tender documents said, noting the department would not necessarily proceed with that option.

The department is concurrently modifying parts of its underlying telecommunications infrastructure to accommodate the planned new system.

"A trial was completed using an MPLS-based IP virtual private network between Canberra and Sydney to carry voice and video," the documents noted. "[DAFF] will be implementing phase two of this project, expanding the IPVPN service to Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. This project will be completed before July 2007."

DAFF will select a vendor for the new system in mid-June this year, with the migration project to be completed by the end of 2007.

Government agencies are prohibited from commenting on current requests for tender due to probity reasons.

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