Voice over IP on the rise at state level

State governments, attracted by the prospects of lower costs and better service for communications, are beginning to shift to voice over IP and Internet telephony, according to a new report.

The role of VOIP in state government transformation and modernization efforts is set forth in VOIP and IP Telephony: Planning for Convergence in State Government, a report from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers released last month.

The report stops short of specific recommendations because there are many unknown variables related to the transition and deployment of the technologies, said John Gillispie, vice chairman of NASCIO's Interoperability and Integration Committee and Iowa's CIO, who led the study.

'To make specific recommendations at this time is difficult,' he said.
Still, VOIP and Internet telephony, which allow for converged voice and data networks, offer state governments a way to improve service delivery while substantially lowering costs, the report states.

VOIP can reduce long-distance charges and allow better management of call center traffic through dynamic call routing, Gillispie said. Dynamic call routing is the practice of rerouting calls from areas of high traffic to areas of low traffic to balance the load.

Although it is possible to achieve dynamic call routing through legacy telephone systems, VOIP makes it easier, he said.

According to the report, VOIP is often used today as a catchall phrase for technologies designed to provide Internet-based communications.
But in the strictest sense, it refers only to the protocol that allows voice traffic to be carried over data networks, using IP network technologies.

Iowa is currently deploying VOIP on a limited basis at new state government facilities outside the state capitol complex, Gillispie said. 'For anyone who decides to upgrade their PBX when they move, we are recommending they use VOIP,' he said.

Siemens Corp. of New York has already completed two implementations for state agencies and is currently working on a third, he said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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