AFGRI opted for NeoVoice, a trunk-based voice solution that combines conventional telephony with intelligent, next-generation voice technology. Through SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), Neotel was able to accommodate the AFGRI’s current - and future - telecommunications infrastructure. With conventional PRI (Primary Rate Interface), you are limited to a 30-voice channel service, and have to buy more lines if you wish to expand. SIP is not only scalable to 60 channels on a single SIP interface, but also allows your channel count to be expanded easily.
As Neotel’s IP-based telephony system utilises a fibre-optic network, the single pipe gives AFGRI access to converged services - including voice, data and internet. With fibre as the primary line, AFGRI selected wireless microwave as the back-up - a choice that has provided the agricultural business with high availability and minimum downtime.
The AFGRI solution comprises a 20 meg fibre link, with two SIP ports, each with 60 channels, and microwave as a back-up.
AFGRI is now benefiting from the stability and scalability of the voice solution and next generation network and has already experienced significant cost savings.
Morné de Klerk, AFGRI Group IT infrastructure Operations Manager, says the company no longer needs to use least cost routing (LCR) at their head office and its monthly voice costs are still cheaper.
“We’re already experiencing savings of up to 20% on our voice costs, and the installation only went live in October 2010, one year ago," he says.
What impressed de Klerk was Neotel's ability to overcome problems and find workable solutions. Being the first business at the office park was one challenge, and to get the fibre network installed they had to drill under the Hennops River. De Klerk explains that, "Neotel was absolutely committed to getting installation up and running on time and that's what counts in my book."
Due to the challenges, Neotel brought up the service on the wireless microwave first to ensure the head office went live on time. People sometimes confuse microwave with satellite, which has high latency. Centurion experiences serious thunderstorms but even during these, we continued to run without a break in service – indicative of the stability of the wireless technology,” comments De Klerk.
Once the fibre pipe was installed at the end of December 2010, there was a cut-over to the fibre network as the primary line. “We’ve had interruptions to the fibre service due to road-works in the area causing the line to be dug up but, even then, our staff has been able to carry on working without interruption as the failover to microwave works seamlessly. Essentially, our staff has experienced a smooth service and 100% access, which is what’s critical.”
Neotel’s innovative pricing model has contributed to the cost savings, with Neotel charging for one link and a 20% premium for the second link, unlike competitors who would charge full price for each link. This innovation is carried through to the Service Level Agreement (SLA). As AFGRI has opted for the Business SLA, which promises 99.5% availability, the company pays the Business SLA rate plus 20% for the additional link. Neotel’s model is to calculate the SLA according to availability of service and not the conventional industry pricing model of mean time to repair. In AFGRI’s scenario, this works out to 3,5 hours per month (not just business hours), after which penalties occur, a far more stringent model that benefits the customer.
- Upgrading is easy.You simply add another line on the invoice. No actual infrastructure has to be installed, no extra equipment ordered, no technicians required on site, and there’s no disruption. We simply request additional bandwidth capacity, the change is done remotely and we have the capacity available without delay.
- Microwave is more stable than copper fixed line. AFGRI ran for three months with 400 users accessing both voice and data, without a single outage.