The ACT government is in the midst of transferring 12,000 employees from Telstra fixed lines to a voice over Internet protocol service provided by Canberra-based carrier TransACT.
The move to TransACT will dramatically reduce government costs, according to Richard Hart, project director for the government's technology agency, InTACT.
"They are very significant cost savings. It lets us move calls around at near-zero cost," he said. TransACT has previously estimated it will cut a third off its telecommunications bill as a result of VoIP.
The agency already used TransACT for off-network calls, such as long-distance calls and those to mobiles.
The rollout is about to ramp up with installations at two major sites -- Canberra Hospital and Canberra Institute of Technology -- in the next few weeks, Hart said.
Around 1,700 handsets have so far been installed across 11 major sites. The complete implementation will see over 12,000 VoIP handsets across 200 sites. InTACT will soon start deploying 500 VoIP handsets per week, according to Hart, who expects the territory-wide deployment of the VoIP network to be in place by March 2006.
As each new handset is connected to the network, the agency saves on access charges for Telstra's copper network. In addition, the flexible nature of VoIP has already helped realise both financial and operational savings.
"If a department moved buildings in the past, we'd have to cable it up, and there'd have to be carrier engineers deployed... Now, you can log into your phone from anywhere on the network," Hart said.
He gave a recent example of one ACT government department that had recently relocated from several buildings to one. The lack of work required for InTACT meant an estimated AU$300,000 cost saving.
Other user benefits will be the ability to search the network directory via the phone, rather than use a book, and having a listing of missed calls, according to Hart.