Bank of America to deploy 180,000 IP phones

Bank of America this week announced plans for a corporate-wide IP telephony rollout that will eventually put an IP phone on every BoA employee's desktop -- about 180,000 phones total.

The ambitious VoIP plan will involve replacing BoA's entire telecom infrastructure with Cisco IP PBXs, voicemail servers and telephones. Electronic Data Systems Corp. will assist BoA in the deployment of the new phone network, which is expected to take three years to complete.

The IP telephony network will be Cisco Systems' largest customer win to date, and follows last week's announcement of Ford Motor's plan to install 50,000 Cisco IP phones, to be managed by SBC Communications Inc. In July, Cisco announced a 150,000 IP phone deal with The Boeing Co. The dollar amount of the deals with BoA, Ford and Boeing were not released.

The BoA network now consists of 362 PBXs based on TDM technology, which support 5,800 locations throughout the U.S. These PBXs, from various vendors, will be replaced with server-based Cisco CallManager IP PBXs. The call managers will be deployed in clusters in various BoA regional data centers to support all major offices, branches and other facilities over the bank's nationwide WAN and regional metropolitan-area networks (MAN).

Cisco Unity unified messaging servers will also be deployed in data centers to consolidate all corporate voicemail boxes, which are spread across multiple systems. The bank will also use Cisco IP telephony in its customer call centers, which will allow agents to have integrated voice/data applications. The bank also deployed twelve multi-Gigabit MAN rings in the major markets in which it operates. It is currently adding network infrastructure in the northeast, from its recent merge with Fleet.

If any business has the network infrastructure for this size of a VoIP rollout, its BoA. Recently, the bank finished building a private, nationwide optical network with backbone speeds up to 10G bit/sec, and QoS services using Multi-protocol Label Switching technology.

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