Texas points to phone, data merge

Texas officials announced plans last week to upgrade the telephone system

that serves the state capitol complex in Austin, setting the stage for a

merged telephone and data networking system.

The implementation of Dallas-based Intecom Inc.'s PointSpan system —

a communications and call center engine with the ability to manage up to

1.5 million telephone calls per hour — is under way, according to the company.

Employees will be moved to the new system during the next five months,

and the 20,000-port system will organize Texas state agencies into a distributed

campus network.

PointSpan is designed to allow an organization to blend its telephone

and data networks into one network, enabling the transmission of all communication

via IP. Texas also will use Intecom's Centergy software to manage several

call center applications already used in many state agencies.

The state has been using Intecom telephone equipment for more than 15

years, and the upgrade is intended to handle the growing number of state

employees and their changing communications needs.

Eddie Esquivel, director of the Telecommunications Services Division

in the Texas Department of Information Resources, said the major difference

between the old system and the PointSpan system is improved manageability.

"Because we had been working with four different databases, it required

a lot of manpower to manage all of that as we made changes to the system,"

he said. "Now, we have a system that moves all of that information onto

a single database."

Furthermore, Esquivel explained, "The PointSpan system has the ability

to automatically make changes to the voice mail system when we implement

a change to one of our customers." This will reduce the time spent on database

management and support, he said.

The Texas Public Finance Authority financed the $3.9 million contract,

and the investment will be recouped by charging agencies that use the new

technology.

Once the system is fully operational this fall, the department plans

to implement voice over IP.

"There will be some hardware investment needed for this task, such as

IP station sets and local-area network enhancements to make it work," Esquival

said.

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