VoIP in demand at M&S

Marks & Spencer wants Cable & Wireless to take its separate voice and data networks and give it a single converged IP platform

Marks and Spencer is planning to shift to a VoIP telephone service across its UK operations.

At present, the retailer has an IP-based WAN for data, and a separate network for telephone calls — both currently operated by Cable & Wireless (C&W). M&S has now signed a deal with C&W under which it will move to a single IP network over the next five-and-a-half years.

C&W announced on Thursday that this contract extension would see VoIP services installed at M&S outlets around the UK, running over this forthcoming IP network.

In a statement Alastair Tipple, chief information officer at Marks & Spencer, said he expected to see significant cost savings as a result of the new deal.

To implement the contract, C&W will use a product called Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network with Quality of Service. This will run over C&W's own network infrastructure, which it claims offers much greater reliability and security than running a VoIP connection using public Internet infrastructure.

Converged voice and data networks are all the rage in the UK at present. BT, C&W's main rival in the VoIP space, has started replacing a number of legacy voice and data networks with a single IP-based infrastructure.