Next-generation Telephony Service for Ohio

Eliminate capital expenditures and management burden, while enhancing communications system performance

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Client: State of Ohio
The State of Ohio includes 88 counties and an estimated population of 11.5 million. Ohio has 611 individual school districts and 14 four-year public universities with 24 branch campuses. The state government consists of 21 main statewide agencies, boards and commissions that oversee day-to-day public service. 

Business Issue:
The vast majority of the 55,000 state employees were using antiquated and sometimes disparate phone systems. The legacy systems were very costly to maintain and were approaching or far beyond end of their technical life. Some agencies were leveraging eBay for parts to extend the life of their on-premises PBXs, and had very few telephony support staff familiar with the equipment. The standard infrastructure technology was cutting edge 30 years ago.  There was no way to track and manage the old phone systems from a central location. The system provided only the minimum of functionality, dial tone and voice mail.    
Additionally, several larger agencies were utilizing state resources and third parties to build, operate, and maintain an isolated telephone system serving only their organization. One of the main goals was to get the public organizations out of business of managing their communications solutions and concentrate on serving the people in the state. The state also aimed at providing a dedicated and consolidated communications solution for over 550,000 government employees serving Ohioans in K-12, higher education, local and municipal government capacities. 

CBTS Solution:
After the state government, higher education and local government jointly formed requirements, they researched several service provider options. The state then sponsored a bid to create a unified communications solution and rewarded the contract to CBTS that proposed a  Next-Generation Telephony Service (NGTS) solution. NGTS is a cloud-based voice utility service that reduces telecom costs across all State of Ohio agencies and schools. NGTS brings the State of Ohio into the mainstream of IP telephony, and gives each user complete control of their telecommunications platform.

CBTS was awarded a five-year contract, with multiple 2-year, no-bid renewals, to implement and support all government funded entities in Ohio with IP telephony service. 

The NGTS platform carries a full suite of communications and collaboration tools, which include:
  • Call center
  • Web-based desktop video, point-to-point and multi-point video capabilities
  • Audio and video conferencing
  • Hearing, site and mobility disabled usability enhancement option (Accessaphone / Dragon Speak)
  • Integrated unified communications options
  • All Ohio government calls included in the base service
  • Significantly reduced interstate and toll-free rates
  • Call recording
  • Enhanced 911

The NGTS service is available to all Ohio funded agencies, higher educational institutions, local governments and K-12 schools.

Cloud Voice Service 
As part of the State of Ohio’s IT Optimization initiative to drive efficiencies and reduce costs within the state organizations, CBTS Hosted VoIP Solution has established the foundation and set a new standard for statewide voice communications. NGTS reduces capital and usage costs, has no upgrade, capacity or technology refresh expenses, and offers enhanced capabilities, compared to older PBX type phone systems. 

The solution is offered as a collaboration initiative between the public and private sectors. It is sponsored by the Department of Administrative Services and Board of Regents. Best-of-breed engineers from OARnet, Office of Information Technology, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Workmen’s Compensation, CBTS, Cisco, Acme, VMware designed and support the system. They are also focused on carving out the roadmap that enables the services to scale and meet the changing needs of all Ohio public organizations that consume NGTS.  CBTS provided dedicated and certified project managers, operational personnel and leadership to make sure the technology solution is delivered on time and within budget, and managed beyond the service level expectations of the customers.
  • NGTS utilizes the existing network infrastructure to transmit voice signals, which allows the users to maintain a single network for voice, video and data communications.
  • Leveraging Cisco IP phones and Acme packet session border controllers, CBTS installed and is managing the system proactively. 
  • The consolidated system offers free on-net calling. All calls within the NGTS system are offered to users at no charge, while out-of-state calls are reduced to a lower cost per minute.
Results:
More than 16,000 Cisco IP phones have been installed as of May, 2014. Installation and maintenance will continue over the next four years with the goal to have CBTS deploy and manage over 50,000 IP phones. The solution encompasses two separate, redundant data centers for highly available services and backup capabilities. 

With this solution, the State of Ohio implemented an end-to-end unified communications platform that allows the government to:
  • Eliminate large capital expense and reduce operational costs
  • Enhance system performance and capabilities in the short and long term
  • Eliminate technology and service obsolescence
  • Remove system management burden for the public organizations