How do companies cutting down on spending slash the costs of their comms overheads whilst gaining better telecoms functionality? Global VP for VoSKY, David Tang, explains how.

Businesses may be tightening their belts and focusing on cost reductions, but that doesn’t mean they want to compromise on communications features. The problem is, how do they get the features they need without a large capital outlay on a new IP PBX?

Or for smaller businesses, how do they get the benefits of advanced Voice over IP functions and low-cost calls without a large-scale investment? This is where Skype comes in. As it’s the world’s largest VoIP network, it can add valuable features and slash call costs.

But how do you bring Skype into your business, and gain central control and management of it? The answer is with a PBX-to-Skype Gateway.

A win-win solution

These PBX agnostic application gateways bridge the gap between Skype and any analogue, digital or IP PBXes via FXO/FXS, T1/E1 or SIP interfaces. The gateways, which put Skype’s features at the disposal of all employees in an easy and manageable way, can be installed in under half a day, with zero changes to existing PBX equipment, phones, or PCs?and at a modest one-time cost, making them a sound investment.

What can these do for you? Well by linking the office PBX to Skype, the gateways offer rich functions. Businesses with multiple locations can put an exchange gateway at each site, which not only saves on outgoing calls to customers and vendors, but also makes intra-office calls Skype-to-Skype, which are completely free-of-charge.

Mobile benefits

The benefits of connecting over Skype can extend to mobile users too and deploying a fixed mobile convergence solution (FMC) can help curb the costs of your company mobile phone fleet.

With Skype installed on any smart mobile phone that can run the Skype mobile client, the user’s call preferences can be set up centrally by the IT team via the gateway to give alternate routing to the mobile user’s Skype account.

The Skype call is placed to the mobile via mobile broadband?irrespective of where the user is – and this means the cost of the call is just a small part of the user’s mobile data plan. This can mean huge savings compared with even the cheapest mobile monthly tariffs.

A call is just a click away

Another significant application is the ability to support Click-to-Call. Enabling new and existing customers to contact customer support directly via Skype over a Web click-through facilitates free calling for both you and the customer from anywhere in the world and reduces operating costs. This improves overall customer service levels and benefits those customers who prefer to stay online.

Click-to-call is a proven method of generating more contact and enquiries from casual Web visitors. The PBX-to-Skype gateway enables companies to seamlessly integrate their Web site with their phone system by deploying web Click-to-call to enhance their online presence with real-time communication. In addition, the gateways deliver a range of other advanced, cost-saving communications features which help accelerate ROI in a matter of months.

With PBX-to-Skype gateways you have a solution that extends the life of your existing phone system by adding innovative VoIP features and functionalities to boost employee productivity while saving the company money. The incremental investment in a PBX-to-Skype gateway will enable you to reduce your inter-company communications costs by 100%, your international communications cost by 50% and deliver a rapid ROI?typically within six months.

A case in point:

An example of the PBX-to-Skype gateways in action is with Group Centurion, an international financial management service provider, who supplies a range of bespoke services specialising in international tax and investment advice, fund management and offshore corporate and trust management services to a range of SMEs worldwide.

With offices in the UK, Cayman Islands, Mauritius Argentina, Luxembourg as well as 15 mobile users, Centurion found that their international phone bills were mounting up, costing them on average £2500 per month. With this in mind Centurion looked to find a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution, which would substantially reduce their calling costs, via their PBX handsets.

Centurion opted to connect the VoSKY Exchange Pro VIT1/E1 to the E1 port on their Avaya IP Office 500 phone system to enable all employees to make, receive and transfer internet-based Skype calls in the same way as conventional phone calls.

The company found the VoSKY gateway easy to install and integrate with their existing phone system. There is no need to use headsets for Internet calls; because all inbound and outbound Skype calls are routed through users’ regular desktop telephone handsets.

Since the Exchange went live Centurion has reported a massive 85% cut in the cost of their monthly telephone bills; their bills were reduced from £2500 to £400, saving them a total of £2100 per month.

Andrew Broster, head of IT for Group Centurion, said: “It was good to bring in a new system that integrated VOIP as it’s been great for business. VoSKY’s Exchange Pro VIT1/E1 has saved us a huge percentage of our monthly phone bill, enabling us to redirect resources into other areas of the company, and with savings like these we expect the whole Vosky project to pay for itself in less than 6 months.

“We bought the equipment through our existing Avaya Business Partner and VoSKY reseller AbbiTek who has provided us with a strong level of support during the installation, but as the gateway is literally plug and play it was easily integrated with our existing infrastructure?deployment really couldn’t have been simpler.”