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ShoreTel makes VoIP migration easy while slashing telephony costs by 70% for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Single distributed system covers remote outposts and floating repair fleet; ShoreTel automatically delivers calls to mobile staff regardless of location
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SUNNYVALE, Calif., September 13, 2005 - The Huntington District, which has long led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the construction of flood-control dams, levees, and floodwalls along the nation's waterways, is now leading the charge into converged communications with an IP telephony system from ShoreTel.

The District's Huntington, W.V. headquarters, 49 remote sites, and floating repair fleet are being unified under a single distributed ShoreTel system that delivers advanced voice services even to rural outposts and can be managed remotely from anywhere. Phone numbers are associated with people, not desktops, so calls find mobile staff members wherever they happen to be in the District's 45,000-square-mile territory. The ShoreTel system is so easy to install and maintain that it has Huntington District's IT staff wondering just what has been taking the traditional telecommunications carriers and vendors so long and costing so much all these years

"Clearly, it doesn't have to be so complex, concludes Robert Hall, coordinator of voice and data communications for Huntington District. "The ShoreTel VoIP system is incredibly easy for us to install and administer; it is the most painless upgrade we've ever done, and we make changes on the fly all the time. The biggest installation problem is tracing the old lines, pulling the legacy systems, and doing the paperwork required to cancel the old ISDN lines. If we have a catastrophic event, we can be on site and put in a new system in a day. That is phenomenal."

The Huntington District is replacing a Centrex system that was costing $30,000 per month for the headquarters office alone. The ShoreTel platform was selected after VoIP solutions from Nortel and Cisco were rejected as too expensive and complicated.

"As you configure a Cisco system, it gets very complex very quickly," reports Anthony Estep, a Huntington District computer specialist. "That was a huge factor."

ShoreTel's easy integration with legacy equipment and applications is enabling Huntington District to migrate incrementally and leverage existing resources and infrastructures. About 850 of the District's 1,000 employees have now been migrated to ShoreTel, and most of them continue to use inexpensive analog phones while enjoying the benefits of IP telephony. Similarly, ShoreTel can deliver advanced features and functions to remote field offices over traditional phone lines - often the only realistic local-access option in these rural areas.

The repair fleet vessels are equipped with their own IP addresses and routers, and wireless access points at each lock and dam site provide an 802.11b-based ship-to-shore link when the ships dock. Because phone numbers are associated with people rather than desktops, ShoreTel can automatically find and deliver calls to the fleet engineers and other mobile employees whenever and however they connect to the network.

"The ease of use, flexibility and cost-effectiveness of ShoreTel's system VoIP system is clearly a perfect fit for the Army Corps of Engineers with its many locations and mobile staff," said Steve Timmerman, vice president of marketing at ShoreTel. "We are pleased that our IP telephony system is giving them all the benefits they want from their phone system."

Productivity goes up while costs go down

ShoreTel's award-winning Personal Call Manager puts PBX-level call control on each user's desktop, but the interface is so intuitive that Huntington District's employees are having no problem transitioning to this new telephony paradigm. Microsoft Outlook integration enables point-and-click dialing from global address books, and incoming calls are displayed along with caller information so they can be dealt with according to their importance. Calls can be transferred or sent directly to voicemail with the click of a mouse.

The District's employees also use the PCM to set up their own call-handling modes. Calls can be automatically routed to temporary desks, cell phones, or home phones, depending on the intended recipient's schedule or presence status. Users can even instruct the ShoreTel system to make call-routing decisions based on information in their Outlook calendars

ShoreTel's integrated Converged Conferencing bridge has replaced a conferencing services provider, giving Huntington District a more cost-effective and convenient solution. Recurring and ad-hoc conferences are so easy to set up and participate in that the use of virtual meetings is spreading. Some of the groups are beginning to exploit ShoreTel Converged Conferencing's built-in document-sharing feature, which keeps voice and data input synchronized

The ShoreTel system is delivering all these IP telephony benefits while reducing costs. Monthly recurring phone costs have already gone down about 70%. As new sites are brought online, Huntington District's IT staff reckons ShoreTel equipment can be installed in a new location for about half the cost of a VoIP solution from Nortel, Cisco, or Avaya. The ShoreTel system is paying for itself in about 18 months, which beats the anticipated 2-year ROI significantly

"The overall economics and manageability of the ShoreTel system are unbelievable," sums up Hall.

About Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District

Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District has a 45,000-square-mile territory spanning parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Within this region, the Huntington District has designed and constructed more flood-control dams, levees, and floodwalls than any other Corps District. These activities include the development of the navigation infrastructure on the middle Ohio River and on the Kanawha River in West Virginia. Huntington District's work has saved billions of dollars in flood damage while it aids regional development through the transport of bulk commodities on inland waterways, provides recreational opportunities, and protects and enhances the environment. For more information, visit http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil

About ShoreTel, Inc.

ShoreTel is the fastest growing IP PBX company in the United States and the leader in customer satisfaction. The company has shipped its groundbreaking solutions since 1998 and continues to outpace the rapidly expanding VoIP market with technological advances and sales that are doubling year over year. ShoreTel voice systems are designed to make businesses smarter, setting new standards for usability and manageability while reducing telecommunications costs. A uniquely distributed architecture extends enterprise-class voice services to every office and outpost, keeping employees fully connected wherever they go. A select, worldwide group of channel partners provide top-notch service and support. For more information, visit http://www.shoretel.com or call 1-877-80SHORE