Helping Government with Modernized Voice and Collaboration Solutions
Before the global pandemic, government agencies in the federal, state and local sectors were looking for ways to modernize their networks, specifically voice communications. Now with many working from home and outside of the physical government facilities across the US, they face a daunting challenge. They must improve the quality of their public services to serve citizens, meet the mission of their agencies from a home office and they must also do it within constrained budgets.
As they grapple with these new challenges, one thing is apparent, agencies across the public sector need secure, seamless, integrated voice systems that enable them to do more without raising costs.
- For example, in its survey of state CIOs, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) identified cost management and service improvements among state governments’ top priorities. State-level CIOs facing budget constraints and reductions seek cost-cutting strategies. Improving citizen experiences and accessibility were also high on their list of must-haves.
- On top of those priorities, federal, state and local agencies alike need secure options – especially in our current environment with many government employees working from home. So much so, guidelines, that included Unified Communications and Collaboration, were recently issued from DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to help federal civilian agencies address cybersecurity concerns presented by the vast numbers of government teleworkers.
The chilling effect of legacy voice networks
Telephony is critical for government success because it’s the traditional means of communication between government agencies and citizens. Many government systems are still based on legacy technology and equipment that fail to deliver the functionality needed to serve citizens properly. One of the biggest problems our customers have shared with us in maintaining legacy systems is their complexity. Multiple older systems, different vendors, varying maintenance needs all compile to create seamlessness, compatibility issues and ultimately, rising costs. And even more importantly, what we have seen recently are the agencies with more modern environments have been able to transition to flexible work environments as the need has arisen.
How CenturyLink Voice & UCC helps
But CenturyLink is here to help address these challenges, our Voice, Unified Communication and Collaboration services (UCC) is a managed service that lowers the capital cost and management challenges that government agencies face and also provides features to help meet rapidly evolving needs.
We collaborate with our customers to either help build a new strategy or to augment an existing strategy to migrate and modernize. Our services match customers at varying stages of their voice modernization journey. Whether an agency is just looking to upgrade their trunk networks, looking to add more functionality or need a seamless collaboration solution between mobile employees, teleworkers and the end users and citizens they support. We offer a range of solutions, including voice over internet protocol (VoIP), SIP trunking, to our FedRAMP-certified Cisco Unified Communications Manager Cloud (UCM Cloud) for Government, delivered by CenturyLink.
The Cisco UCM Cloud for Government solution will allow customers to transform their legacy voice networks into a feature-rich unified communications platform that’s tailor-made for today’s agile workforce. Users will be able to collaborate using their device of choice, from desk phones, to soft clients, PCs, tablets, smartphones, or room collaboration and co-creation screens.
Our integrated approach to voice services lets us offer lower-cost, high-quality services that are more reliable than older legacy PBX-based circuit-switched systems. With the addition of the Cisco UCM Cloud solution, our customers now get the full benefits of the rapid innovation happening across the Cisco Webex collaboration portfolio, on a government approved, secure cloud platform. As the largest SIP trunking provider in America, CenturyLink carries approximately an average of 22 billion enterprise voice minutes each month.
If you’re looking to add more functionality, we can integrate unified communication and collaboration with our voice services. This extends voice services into digital solutions that make it easier for employees to work together.
Cisco Voice & UCC in action
CenturyLink works with our customers to help design solutions that allow them to be more agile and efficient. We offer a Voice and UCC solution based on UCM Cloud for Government, from Cisco, because we’ve found that Cisco provides the full range of enterprise features, with the security, reliability and scalability required by our Federal, state and local government customers. “Running a Cisco certified cloud practice is no small task. CenturyLink has the talent and commitment required to deliver the highest quality UCM Cloud for Government service. We are delighted to have CenturyLink as a Cisco certified cloud partner,” says Payam Rouhani, Director of Cloud Solutions at Cisco.
For example, a midwestern state government was facing cost and complexity challenges. Their PBX systems had compatibility problems and maintenance costs were spiraling out of control. They were also dealing with over 150 incumbent local exchange carriers, making contract management cumbersome and time-consuming.
The on-premises system had no way to reach other agency offices spread across the state. It could not retain local numbers for government locations outside the capital, leading to high operating costs.
The state was reaching a critical point, with PBX equipment close to the end of its life and key technical staff nearing retirement. Instead of refreshing that old equipment and trying to recruit new people to manage an aging network, they chose to move their telephony service to the cloud.
The customer’s transformation started with CenturyLink building a secure, high performance MPLS infrastructure that provides a private network, connecting all the sites across the state. CenturyLink Voice & UCC service was built on top of this robust MPLS network, to help drive new efficiencies into the customer’s internal operation and citizen services. We supplemented that with our hosted VoIP and interactive voice response (IVR) systems, helping us completely modernize voice services for the customer across 39 state agencies and five prisons.
CenturyLink was able to transfer the government’s non-local numbers from the ILECs. Bringing everything into one integrated VoIP system helped cut telephony expenses by 20% across 8,000 seats.
“The challenges brought on with COVID-19 makes adopting reliable and secure cloud services more necessary than ever for government agencies. Security first is a requirement, not an option for our government customers. From day 1, our guidepost at Cisco has been to make the cloud transition a safe and predictable path with Cisco UCM Cloud for Government,” adds Rouhani.
Not just cheaper, but better
The new cloud-based service set did more than cut costs, though; it also added new functionality to the system that has proven invaluable during disruptive times. State employees were able to access voice services from home when they could not be at the office, making and taking calls from their work numbers to provide seamless service to citizens. They transitioned from the office to working from home in a matter of hours using the CenturyLink service.
CenturyLink Voice & UCC customers enjoy a range of benefits including network reliability and easier support. Because we are a single carrier that owns the entire network, government customers can rely on fast and easy problem resolution. They have just one number to call and we handle the rest, conducting root cause analysis and taking quick remediation measures. This is a welcome change for government customers used to calling multiple vendors to try and solve telecommunications issues.
Our modern integrated service also provides a platform for service improvements. By integrating voice, UCC, and virtual cloud contact centers, governments can build the call routing and management capabilities they need to provide citizens with the high-quality services they have come to expect in the 2020s.
When planning next-generation, modernization of citizen services, it’s vital to design them on a modern foundational platform. It also helps to have a partner who has the expertise and experience to design solutions that are modern, based on industry-standard technologies and running over a tier 1 global backbone. If your agency is laboring under costly, cumbersome legacy systems and you are ready to make modernization a priority, then give us a call. We are invested in your success.
Learn more about how CenturyLink can help you create a higher-quality foundation for the future.
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