Ga., BellSouth to run first U.S. Centrex IP trial

Ga., BellSouth to run first U.S. Centrex IP trial

By Claire E. House

GCN Staff

The Georgia government is participating in the first U.S. trial of Centrex IP technology as part of a wider state Internet telephony research project.

The state's Information Technology Division has teamed with BellSouth Corp. of Atlanta for the 90-day pilot, which began April 21. It is testing new technology to combine voice, video and data services over existing Centrex telephone networks.

Georgia, a BellSouth Centrex phone service customer, is part of a large general Centrex user community. The National Centrex Users Group has 3,000 members, each representing an organization. About 40 percent are from the public sector, said John Heiden, president of the NCUG board of directors.

Georgia prefers to test technology rather than take a vendor's word for it, IT director Bob Simpson says.

The trial's IP injection comes from Nortel Networks Corp. of Brampton, Ontario. The company recently added the capability to its DMS-100 switching system used by the BellSouth Centrex network, said Doug Springfield, BellSouth assistant vice president for business product management.

The state-vendor team will examine quality of service, security and customer satisfaction, Springfield said.

The trial kicks off a larger R&D project within the IT Division, which is part of Georgia's Administrative Services Department.

'We're doing this lab environment testing on the whole gamut of IP telephony products, services and platforms'and we're doing it in conjunction with a variety of vendors,' IT director Bob Simpson said.

The division is working strictly on a research basis and has no procurement agenda, he said. It aims to examine how the state could best set up voice, video and data services, and minimize their cost.

'We owe it to our constituents, to the taxpayers in our state,' Simpson said.

The loosely structured project lets state and vendor systems workers collaboratively test technologies, many of which aren't yet on the market.

'We don't want to talk to marketers. We'd rather deal with engineers and techies from the vendor community,' he said.

Exploring the technology separates Georgia from marketing hype and builds a home-field testing edge, Simpson said.

'You're talking about running this over somebody's LAN. Who manages it and how it's managed really makes a difference,' Simpson said.

The laboratory is in its early stages with no set-in-stone timeline, said Gina Tiedemann, assistant director for technology strategies. The flexible design of the project lets engineers innovate and explore, she said.

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