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9/22/2004
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Ford Gears Up For VoIP

Automaker hires SBC Communications to design and manage a converged IP network for 50,000 employees at 110 locations in Michigan.

Ford Motor Co. is trading in an old communications system for the latest model--a converged voice, data, and video IP network that will serve 50,000 employees at 110 locations in southeast Michigan. The automaker hired SBC Communications Inc. to design and manage the network, which will be based on equipment from Cisco Systems.

Ford has been using a Centrex voice communications system from SBC since 1986. It also uses SBC's Gigaman Service, a point-to-point Ethernet data service, to connect the facilities in Michigan. The new network, which will be deployed over three years, will combine a number of Ford networks into a single IP-based network.

SBC says the Ford network will be its largest IP telephony deployment and one of the largest in the country. It will provide substantial savings to Ford by reducing network costs and making it easier to make adds, moves, and changes on the network, the company says.

Ford officials weren't available to discuss the cost of the network, the potential savings, or whether it's the first step in a wider deployment of IP communications technology. A Ford spokeswoman says the company's IT department tested the technology for the past year before deciding to implement it in Michigan.

Network consultants from SBC's Callisma Inc. unit will design a custom network for Ford based on SBC's PremierServ IP Telephony Advantage platform and use Cisco's IP networking gear. SBC engineers will be stationed at Ford's data center in Dearborn, Mich., to manage the service during the three-year contract. SBC Long Distance also is working with Ford to provide services to the Michigan facilities. Before deploying the new gear, SBC says it will test all elements of the Ford system at an SBC staging center in Memphis, Tenn.

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