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Roadmap to convergence.

"The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce salutes the Northern Voice and Data group of companies on their latest acquisition. We are proud to recognize the on going success of Northern Voice and Data as it continues to show its confidence in northern Ontario and demonstrate its leadership in enhancing the north's economy." Debbi Nicholson, President & CEO, Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce

Gates Poulin and Monique Forsyth, owners of Northern Voice & Data Inc., believe they have the last piece to their puzzle in becoming a "convergence" company. The recent acquisition of the Sudbury and North Bay (NTC) branches of GEAC is the last component for the Sudbury-based Telecommunications Company to become a player in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) arena.

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"Our strategic plan, which we began implementing in 2001, was to evolve our company to a more IT centric model and to capture the VoIP opportunity." Poulin says. "We can now offer our customers the expertise required in all aspects of a VoIP roll out." More than a decade ago. Northern Voice & Video Inc. sprang from the divestiture of Northern Communications Ltd., a subsidiary of the then Northern Cable. In December 2000, the name changed to Northern Voice & Data Inc. as a result of the sale of the video portion of the business. The focus was then on providing phone systems and structured (computer) cabling solutions to its evergrowing client base in the Sudbury and North Bay areas.

Heading up the data (structured cabling) division is Dave Lammi, former branch manager for Integrated Cabling Systems (ICS).

"Structured cabling is a key component to any computer network," Lammi says. "A mission critical application such as VoIP demands a robust network, if it is to succeed." The interconnect division has been providing phone system solutions from the beginning, but was now the catalyst for change.

The industry as a whole is now embracing the new VoIP technology, which is a broad-based term that involves taking a traditional phone system and converting the phone to an IP device that can be plugged into a computer network. Before its introduction, computers and phone systems operated on separate networks.

"This is no longer the case," Poulin says. The two technologies are merging into one "ubiquitous platform" to the point where there will be little differentiation between a work station and a telephone; hence, the term convergence. The "teleworker" application of VoIP should score well with people on the go. Home-based workers with high-speed access can plug in their IP telephone and take calls at home as if they were in the office. Their laptop would share the same connection and access the company network.

"You have no less functionality in working at home, than you would if you were in the office." Poulin says.

For companies with branch offices linked by a wide area network (WAN), an IP solution ties all offices together regardless of geographical distances.

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"There are no longer any long distance costs for voice traffic between branches," Poulin says. "Calling from one extension to another is like calling within the same building."

Attaching a phone system to a computer network meant entering a potentially volatile environment. Traditional phone systems have huge reliability levels. They seldom fail.

"A phone system is mission critical to any business," Poulin says. "There is some degree of tolerance to network failures, but a customer will not tolerate their phone system going down."

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Northern Voice & Data Inc. needed expertise in place to ensure the customer's network was as robust as any phone system environment, so they began searching for companies that specialized in network management and zeroed in on GEAC.

"The VoIP industry is coming of age," says Ken Ryles, sales manager for the new network division. "(GEAC) also had an interest in this area, but we were lacking the expertise on the telecom side. We were a perfect fit with Northern Voice & Data Inc."

The Northern (NTC) branches of GEAC had a history of successes in providing strong product platforms and support in the IT environment. They also had a computer-training segment (Productivity Point Int.), which focused on specialized IT training and certification along with corporate desktop training services.

Rising to the challenge of merging these divisions together is Monique Forsyth who manages the operations side of the business.

"Our Company is passionate about delivering quality, innovative products and services to our customers," Forsyth says. "As we look forward we have a foundation of outstanding service, which will position us to further increase our market share."

Forsyth says their added expertise and responsiveness as a small company enables them to address customer application in an effective and timely manner. It is evident that Northern Voice & Data Inc. is poised to achieve its potential as a model convergence company.

We have dealt with both NVD and GEAC for many years and we have always been very pleased with the service and overall relationship. With our ever changing IT needs, the phone and computer systems of tomorrow will be closely linked or operate as one and we feel confident NVD/GEAC will be there to service our needs.

A.R. (Alf) Chisholm

President & CEO. Chisholm Group of Companies

The combining of telecommunications and data networking services with computer hardware and software sales completes the circle of needs in today's corporate technology environment, providing a comprehensive solution with simply one vendor accountable.

Joel Ranger

Manager, Information Systems, Manitoulin-Sudbury

Community Care Access Centre

Congratulations!! I just heard about your new acquisition! What a brilliant idea!! You could not have picked a better company than GEAC. The marriage of the two is a perfect blend.... IT and phone system. As I am an existing client of both firms, it will make my life a lot simpler by dealing with a one-stop shop for all my technology needs.

Michael DiBrina

President, DiBrina Sure Group

"Leaders in their respective areas and now combined to provide VoIP solutions... it's a perfect marriage."

John Whitehead, Northern Communications, Serviees, Inc.
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Title Annotation:Corporate Profile; Northern Voice & Data Inc.
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Apr 1, 2004
Words:999
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