Verizon in HD Voice – Ivan has it

Verizon has revealed more details to its internal HD voice deployment.  The company’s Basking Ridge, NJ headquarters campus has almost 5,000 users with Polycom HD phones — including Chairman/CEO Ivan Seidenberg.

The deployment started around a year ago, with executives and conference rooms getting the first wave of phones, followed by deployment to all the end-users in the campus.  End-users received Polycom 650 phones while conference rooms were equipped with 6000 and 7000 series devices.   Phones were either replaced after hours or when people were out to lunch, with a typical installation taking less than 10 minutes since phones were pre-configured prior to deployment.  The process was described as “extremely smooth” and the deployment was finished three months ahead of initial projections.

Basking Ridge, a former AT&T site, was already using hosted VoIP, so the migration from legacy to HD quality was relatively straightforward.  The VoIP phones were showing their age so Verizon took the opportunity to install HD — despite a slightly higher cost per phone at the time.   “The telecom managers feel it was very much worth it, especially for all the accolades they got,” said Alla Reznik, Verizon’s Director of Product Marketing for Global Advanced Voice Services.

The next internal deployment may either use the same strategy or be a conversion from a legacy PSTN infrastructure straight to HD, said Reznik.    Campbell Creek, Texas, a site of about 2,000 people and home to the engineers who would deploy the service for commercial customers, might be the next Verizon location to be upgraded to HD.  Other deployments will likely be made on an “opportunity” basis as equipment reaches end-of-life.

In Basking Ridge, users took a few months to get used to the service with one saying “It’s just spooky, you almost want to check that the person isn’t standing right next to your office door, it’s just so clear.”   People began perceiving three different levels of voice quality.  On the Verizon campus, voice is clear, while landline service was the second tier, with wireless service at the lowest level of quality.  “When you say LTE, nobody thinks they’re saying LPE, there’s a big difference,” Reznik stated.

HD voice, thinks Reznik, could be the catalyst to get customers to move to VoIP and get “laggards” onto an IP transformation path where both service providers and customers benefit the most.  Once IP is in, providers can offer additional services and features that “end users can’t imagine” today.

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