From the Enterprise VoIP Experts

May 03, 2012

Aastra, Internet2 and Level3 Add Up to Big HD Voice Cloud

By Contributing Editor

This week Aastra and Level 3 announced a deal with the Internet2 educational consortium to sell cloud (hosted) UC services and SIP trunking respectively. With Aastra providing out-of-the-box (well, installation) G.722 voice service, the deal could ultimately end up being one of the largest broadband HD voice clouds ever.

Before we get into details about what Aastra and Level 3 are specifically offering and at what price, let's do some SWAG on how many seats this might bring in.

Internet2, a nonprofit organization who initially started to facilitate high-speed networking and explore advanced broadband concepts between higher-education institutions, has about 66 government agencies, laboratories and other institutions of higher learning, 35 regional and state research and education networks and more than 100 national research and education networking organizations.

Texas A&M and Tulane Universities are cited as early adopters, stated in the press release. At its College Station Campus, Texas A&M has almost 9,300 on-campus students plus another 28,000 commuters. But it is the on-campus students that count since they may need a phone, so take their number, assume roughly 10 percent of students go with landline number at the school with the rest BYOD-ing (Bring Your Own Device -- a smartphone), plus around 27,000 statewide faculty and staff -- because nearly every employee needs a phone -- to get an upper end number of 27,930 phones for Texas A&M. Round up to 28,000 because you'll have phones in lobbies and dorm hallways.

Not everyone is as big as Texas A&M, but if you crunch the math a couple of different ways, you could easily run 250,000 or more seats across Internet2 members.   There are no guarantees here, but it's a five year contract agreement. Working in Aastra's favor is the move for students to BYOD, making campus-based PBX services suddenly a lot more expensive and variable cost to replace. Campuses can now plan for their fixed costs -- faculty and staff phones, plus building support -- and not have to worry about the number of students who may or may not bring their own devices.

Getting to costs, Aastra's Clearspan UC offers runs at about an average of $6.78 per seat per month with a 50 seat starting minimum, with discounts starting once you hit over 20,000 seats. Many campuses won't go over 20,000 seats, but multi-site institutions and/or a lot of dorms are bound to. 

Aastra's Clearspan UC services include vanilla voice services, fixed-mobile convergence, IVR,  conferencing and call center application, but most of the purchasing will probably take place under the vanilla voice category, with find-me/follow-me/call forwarding popular with grad students, faculty and staff who want to be available under a university phone number.

As for the HD voice part, an Aastra spokesperson states that the Clearspan hosted offering does HD voice by default with "no additional changes or charges”. Add in Level 3 providing SIP trunking services between colleges -- likely with some flat rate/no-rate deal thrown in for on-net SIP calling between members -- and it is clear this is a big deal.

How big? At last count last year, France Telecom boasted it has 800,000 consumer broadband customers.   8x8 has over 100,000 HD voice endpoints -- most of them Aastra, by the way. Verizon Business may have more, but it can't seem to cough up a number or estimate as to how many HD voice endpoints are plugged into its internal (own customer) VIPER SIP exchange.

For more technical and deployment information on HD voice, the “HD Voice 2012: Proliferation" report is available for purchase through TMCNet here.

Edited by Brooke Neuman