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Jetway bridges PBX gap.

A mile and a half is not a lengthy distance for telephone calls to travel. But it seemed forever for employees and customers of Jetway Systems when they tried to communicate through two incompatible phone switches.

Many staffers believed that when the company opened a second location, just over a mile from its Ogden, Utah, headquarters, the transition would be smooth. Instead of simplifying matters, expansion caused communications problems because phone systems in each building--although made by the same manufacturer--couldn't communicate.

The 31-year-old designer and manufacturer of aircraft passenger boarding bridges had installed a 150-extension PBX at its primary facility in the late '60s and upgraded it in the early '80s. The firm expanded to another site in 1987, which now houses sales and administrative staff. Another PBX was installed at the new location when it opened, and that's when the problems started.

"Both systems were adequate for single locations, but there was no interface between the two. The problem we ran into was how to answer and transfer calls between the facilities," says Lloyd Beutler, Jetway's communications manager.

"We had problems with people hearing each other and being cut off. Sending faxes was almost impossible."

Problems get worse

One of the first solutions was to rent 10 tie lines between the two sites to carry voice and data traffic. Although a connection between buildings was established, it only worsened the situation.

"We had receptionists in administration answering all the calls and sending them over the tie lines between buildings. When the tie lines filled up, they would have to put callers on hold or have them call us back," Beutler explains.

"Since the majority of our business is out-of-state or international, we had a lot or irate customers and suppliers."

In an attempt to resolve the fax problem, dedicated business lines were installed just for the machines. Again, the problem worsened.

"We had 'wildcat' lines," Beutler says. "Rather than having everything come through one set of trunks, we had individual lines for fax machines. It was still quite difficult to fax between our locations, even though they were only a mile and a half apart."

If the voice and fax tie-ups weren't enough, the situation became unacceptable when data traffic was added. Manufacturing and engineering needed to send data back and forth. Limited-distance modems were used first.

Beutler soon discovered the modems had a range of only 1.2 miles, resulting in communications failures between computer systems.

"In one case, we were down for days because the phone company was adding about 300 feet to the tie lines. That weakened the signal strength so much we had to have them go back in and reroute it back to the way it was before," Beutler says.

Jetway couldn't direct its long-distance traffic through a single set of dedicated trunks. As a result, they lost the economy of WATS service which is based on total company volume.

Looking for answers

The local telco recommended using D4 channel banks for data traffic and told Jetway that duplicating features between the two buildings couldn't be done economically.

"Some vendors said we needed a receptionist on both sides. Then they could direct calls," explains Beutler. "That would be expensive--in terms of staffing--and inconvenient."

Jetway turned to a distributor it had a long-standing relationship with--Executone Mountain West (EMW). Because EMW had installed both previous switches at Jetway, it was familiar with Jetway's requirements.

"The switches really didn't integrate that well to get the kind of communication they needed between sites," says Claer Payzant of EMW. "Also, they didn't have enough communications capacity."

Payzant recommended digital PBXs be installed at each location. The switches would be networked so that both sites could share the features common to the whole system.

Jetway installed two HCX5000 PBXs from Hitachi. "When Hitachi told us we could mirror the features at both locations, that really piqued our interest," Beutler says.

Hardymann's solution not only upgraded the telephone switches, it also included 24-line digital T1 links to local and long-distance carriers for more capacity.

"T1 gave them 24 higher quality tie lines between buildings at the same price they were paying to rent 10 tie lines," says Hardymann.

The T1 link allows Jetway to use Features Transparency Network capabilities. FTN enables remote locations, no matter how distance or complex the configuration, to share productivity-enhancing system-wide features such as voice messaging and centralized attendant service.

Park/park answer is a particular favorite. The feature allows a party to be paged, and an incoming call to be forwarded and answered, at any extension in either building.

"I think people would kill if we tried to take it away from them," Beutler laughs. "It's handy because many people go back and forth between buildings. I can call somebody at the other site, and regardless of where they are, they can answer."

Call accounting

Beutler is enthusiastic about the integrated call accounting for tracking long-distance calls.

"It's tremendous," he says. "Before, we had a PC-based system that was not part of the old switches. While that worked, it wasn't nearly as handy as the HCX5000's capability."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:PBX/Key/ACD Systems; Jetway Systems; private branch exchange
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:851
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