British Airways in Major VoIP Deployment

Cisco gets the contract that pushes IP telephony across airline giant's employee base.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted May 11, 2005
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Things may soon go a lot smoother at London's Heathrow Airport, thanks to a VoIP deal announced today between Cisco Systems and British Airways.

Cisco will deploy VoIP to over 14,000 British Airways staff, which will use 8,500 Cisco IP phones at its U.K. offices and airports. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Cisco in a statement noted that it was a "multi-million-pound IP telephony system."

The Cisco IP phones will be routed over a Cisco Ethernet network and will include Cisco's MeetingPlace conferencing applications, as well as the Cisco CallManager call-processing software. Employee self service applications, including Web-based employee services, will also be available on the Cisco IP phones.

"We needed to replace our legacy phone system in Terminal 4 at Heathrow and this new IP telephony systems gives us the flexibility and functionality to run a busy airport terminal at significantly lower costs base than the old legacy system," said Paul Coby, CIO of British Airways, in a statement.

According to Cisco spokeswoman JoAnne Hughes, Cisco first started discussions with British Airways to replace their legacy telephone network with Cisco IP telephony solutions approximately two years ago.

Cisco said it expects the system to pay for itself within two years by reducing costs and improving productivity through the integration of all voice and data communications onto a single network. The deployment is expected to be completed by March 2006.

Transportation has been a key sector for Cisco, with airlines, airports and the aerospace industry all being featured in major customer announcements.

In early April, Vancouver International Airport announced that it would use Cisco IP Communications solutions. In March, Cisco announced that Athens airport would be using Cisco IP Telephony. And in July, Cisco signed a major deal with Boeing to roll out Cisco IP Telephony across Boeing's converged voice, video and data network.

Yesterday, Cisco reported its quarterly results, which beat expectations. The company's "very solid quarter" was driven by strong-order growth of carrier-class and IP telephony sales.

In other VoIP pact news, British Telecom (BT) today announced it it will use Nortel equipment when it switches its U.K. and Indian call centers to VoIP.

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