VoIP: You’re In The Army Now

With VoIP business phone service steadily taking over at companies of all sizes and at all sorts of government agencies, from the smallest localities to the federal government, hardly a day goes by that the announcement of yet another conversion to VoIP crosses my desk. Indeed there are so many of them that I can’t write, or even read, about 99.999% of those that come my way.

But this past week one such missive did catch my eye. It seems that the U.S. Army’s Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, has decided to convert to VoIP.  Fort Leonard Wood is where I did my Army basic training, so any mention of the place (which many of we veterans to this day call ‘Fort Lost In The Woods’) brings back memories. I won’t say all of those memories are pleasant, but some of the things that they taught me there did keep me alive in combat, through two wars.

The government is spending $14.1 million to put in the VoIP system at Leonard Wood, which at first will be equipped with 25,000 ‘right to use’ (RTU) licenses – i.e. up to 25,000 VoIP phones or other digital and IP devices on the network. The system is being built with the ability to expand to 36,000 RTUs if needed. At the same time, the government is decommissioning an old Nortel SL100 PBX – part of a family of non-VoIP PBXes based on technology first introduced in 1975, although much evolved since then. Replacing it is an Avaya Communication Manager 6 (CM6) unified communications system, being installed by Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary LGS Innovations.

But the technicalities of the exact hardware involved isn’t the real news, although LGS and Avaya would love it to be. The point is that a key U.S. Army base, designated ones of the Army’s Centers of Excellence, where 85,000 to 95,000 military (and civilians) are trained each year, is entrusting its communications to VoIP.

That implies confidence in a level of service and security for VoIP that should reassure any business, from the smallest one-man operation on up, that choosing VoIP business phone service is a rational decision which has come of age. And interestingly, looking over the array of VoIP-based services being promised to the military at Leonard Wood, the list bears a striking resemblance to the list of features available from Phone.com to even the smallest business.