As one of the first German municipalities the local administration of Morsbach (in the "Oberbergische Land") decided to replace their traditional telephone system by a purely IP based PBX. This decision was put into practice despite initial skepticism.
Standing on the observation towers of the municipality Morsbach, one can discover the "Siebengebirge" at the end of the horizon - good weather provided. The municipality with approximately 12,500 inhabitants is idyllically located, as it builds the southern part of the Oberbergische Land just before the North Rhine-Westfalia borders to Rhineland-Palatinate. From here, it is about 30 kilometers to Gummersbach and 70 kilometers to Cologne. Being remote to any larger city and the metropolis turbulences does not mean at all that Morsbach is in any way provincial. Completely the opposite, as the modern town-hall administration shows: The new reconstructed and extended town-hall is equipped with a high-end network infrastructure which allows Voice-over- IP - making phone calles over the data network.
Town-Hall Reconstruction Gave Reason
The construction work of the town-hall began in July 2001 by a cut of spade by the city's mayer Raimund Reuber and head of the provincial government Jürgen Roters. Within 14 months the hall was extended, the cellars were reconstructed and the still existing old building was completely sanified. These construction changes are far more obvious to all the visitors than all the new equipment in computing and telecommunications: Morsbach now has a LAN infrastructure and an all new telephony system.
Annoying Customer Service So Far
The impact for purchasing a new telephony system was due to the expiration of the existing PBX leasing contract in Summer 2003. For quite some time the existing provider of the PBX managed to establish discontent for his own support services which were not only very costly but at the same time very inflexible and ineffective. Until today, the PBX manufacturer reserves its rights to do all changes exclusively - therefore, short term adjustments within administration are difficult and tedious.
Searching for Alternatives
This frustration led to radical measures: The municipality collected information about different alternatives and compared all existing PBX systems on the market. This was a difficult undertaking, as there were round about 60 users within their administration. "Swyx clearly offered the best cost-performance ratio", says Uwe Ufer of the Municipality Morsbach. After a test staging for some weeks, there were hardly any concerns left - so Morsbach decided in favor of "SwyxWare".
New Technology: VoIP
This ultra-modern software solution comes from Swyx Communcations, a Voice-over-IP specialist from Dortmund. The new telephony system waives separate infrastructure and voice and data are transported over the same network in form of small packets. The software controls all dial and connecting procedures within the network.
The young company was able to stand up to strong competitors like Alcatel, Cisco and Siemens. Skepticism and prejudice had to be disband. Despite of all discontent with the old system, there were some concerns against the new system as well: Is the new system at all failsafe? Is it possible to fulfil good voice quality when voice is transported over the network? Doesn't one only exchange dependence on the former PBX service provider for a new dependence on the own network infrastructure?
Swyx Solution Persuaded
In order to clarify these questions, the administration decided to operate the old and the new system on a parallel basis for one year. "We know today that changing to IP telephony was the only right thing to do", says Uwe Ufer delighted. He knows that most of the employees rather use their PC telephone than the conventional one. "Especially the easy connection to Outlook with SwyxWare facilitates the working conditions for all our employees", adds Ufer. Voice quality is comparable to the traditional ISDN and the user-friendly administration and flexible expansion is well accepted. Positive press opinions in several journals and magazines have shown to be no exaggeration.
Excellent Cost-Performance Ratio
The most convincing argument for Morsbach certainly was the price for SwyxWare: While the traditional system costs round about 40,000 Euros per year, Swyx's telephony solution had a one-time only purchase price of 35,000 Euros. Apart from the in any case planned infrastructural changes and interrelated costs, there are hardly any other expenditures in the future. Some refitting measures are not worth mentioning: Some older PCs in the administration were updated to Microsoft's Windows 2000 and got USB ports, some others were equipped with better soundcards.
No Radical Change
In order to facilitate the change to modern telephony for employees as well as for the citizens of Morsbach, the town-hall administration decided to keep both systems parallel until the end of the leasing contract in 2003. About 50 employees can get used to the new system within one year's time. Using the new handsets instead of the traditional desktop phones still is unusual, but acceptance grows from day to day.
In order to familiarise with the new technology, employees can take part in internal trainings to clear any questions or vagueness. In only a few months time, the municapility Morsbach will be using only the modern IP telephony system. And if you happen to notice a classic desktop phone in some of Morsbach's conference rooms - don't be tricked: these are telephone models which support Voice-over-IP, as well. At the Morsbach municipality no one in any way bemoans the loss of the traditional telephony system.
Installation in Detail