City of Winnipeg opts for communication-as-a-service

The City of Winnipeg is located close to the middle of Canada. But, the city of close to 700,000 people isn’t interested in middle of the road technology, which is why they looked outside their borders for a new and innovative communications system.

Winnipeg was mired in old Centrex technology and was struggling with disparate systems for voice and networking. In came Toronto-based FlexITy Solutions Inc. with its own branded unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) called FlexTel.

FlexTel is not just a VoIP or IP telephony solution but a new method for break-up the technology silos inside organizations.

The City of Winnipeg did not have call to voice service, its network was in desperate need for an upgrade, and there was no integration with its email.

Peter Stavropoulos, CEO of FlexITy, told CDN that what FlexTel provides was not solely based on cost effectiveness, but on technology innovation.

“What we were trying to bring to the table was not economically influenced on price, but on technology innovation. That’s what we sold them,” he said.

FlexTel will provide cost saving for the City of Winnipeg of $1.5 million over a five year term. The deal was for 4,500 systems throughout the city including administration, police, fire and ambulance services. FlexITy does have an option to renew for another four years after this deal ends.

FlexTel has been built on primarily Cisco technology. At the heart of the solution is Cisco HCS (Hosted Collaboration Solution) along with Voss for provisioning, MetroTech for automated billing and storage from EMC. Stravropoulos said that the company first launched FlexTel in 2009 and it cost the company approximately $10 million to create.

One of the benefits of FlexTel is that city workers will get single number access. Single number access is part of FlexTel’s Presence intelligent routing solution and provides city employees and the public the opportunity to reach a specific person even if he or she is away from their post.

“Police officers dealing with a case can now call their partner and if they are not at their desk will reach them on another device like a smartphone. They can answer that call and it’s safe and secure. It has instant messaging and UC. This is massive for the city,” Stavropoulos said.

The FlexITy deal also meant a change in the way the City of Winnipeg operates. The FlexTel UCaaS is billing monthly and therefore the city eliminated a huge capital expenditure. Stavropoulos said that the city will also get refresh provisioning and not have to deal with asset obsolescence.

“They did not want the headache of running their own enterprise,” he added.

One headache that did occur for FlexITy is that Winnipeg-based service provider MTS, the incumbent voice provider for the City of Winnipeg protested the deal saying it would lead to security concerns because FlexITy is an out of province solution provider.

Stavropoulos rebutted those protests by saying that FlexITy has customers in all major provinces in Canada.

The City of Winnipeg deal is a big part of FlexITy growth strategy. The company wants to be known as a national service provider with its FlexTel platform and is working its way to growing its presence in Western Canada.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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