November 27, 2022
The ABC has embarked on a project to replace its aging PABXs with onsite or cloud-based voice services that can integrate with its organisation-wide use of Microsoft Teams. While the broadcaster declined to disclose to iTnews the budget for its tender, it is bound to be a big-ticket project, with 57 ageing NEC PABXs in…

The ABC has embarked on a project to replace its aging PABXs with onsite or cloud-based voice services that can integrate with its organisation-wide use of Microsoft Teams.

While the broadcaster declined to disclose to iTnews the budget for its tender, it is bound to be a big-ticket project, with 57 ageing NEC PABXs in 56 Australian locations and four overseas bureaux due to be retired.

The tender notes that the Covid-19 pandemic drove big changes in how staff communicate, with a switch from desk phones to mobiles that continued after staff returned to the office, along with near-ubiquitous adoption of Microsoft Teams.

As carriers decommissioned ISDN links, the ABC rolled out SIP trunks to its key Melbourne and Ultimo (Sydney) sites, which reduced the need for PABXs to provide carrier connections at individual offices.

“The relocation of some staff to [new offices in] Parramatta, a greater focus on the regions, as well as the Ultimo restack will require telephony services that cater for flexible staffing models, shared workspaces, and greater consistency of user experience both across sites, regional offices, and remote working from home”, the tender states.

The tender also seeks a solution that can “seamlessly integrate into the current ICT environment”, and that “uses cloud SaaS and PaaS based solutions wherever possible and practical.”

The system also needs to provide call centre functionality, and provide telephony recording interfaces.

The ABC has also been rolling out a separate project for on-air calls, the Broadcast Bionics PhoneBox. 

Before it launched the PhoneBox project, the ABC said, its choice of telephony platform was limited; now, “the opportunity exists to align the unified communications and corporate telephony services with contemporary market offerings”, the tender said.

The current PABX fleet supports 8000 ports and 1100 virtual extensions.

Of the fleet of NEC PABXs currently in service, the tender said, “almost half” are now end-of-life.

Telstra is contracted to provide the ABC’s telephony and mobile services, data services, dial plans, direct dial in number plans, inbound 13, 1300 and 1800 services, outbound call plans, and SIP trunks.

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