Qantas in nation-wide Cisco VoIP rollout


Australia’s largest airline Qantas today confirmed it had recently commenced an extensive internal deployment of Cisco IP telephony hardware that would touch some 18,000 users.

“Commencing in February this year Qantas began rolling out new IP Phones for employees Australia-wide,” a spokesperson for the airline said, confirming Cisco was the vendor. “The new phones will offer more features and a greater range of services, providing Qantas with the latest voice technology.”

Cisco declined to comment on the win, but it’s the second big deal for the US networking giant in Australia’s airline sector in the past few months.

In December the US networking giant announced that — in coalition with partner The Frame Group — it had won a contract to implement a comprehensive network at Melbourne Airport including Wi-Fi access points, video capability and 800 Cisco IP phones.

Large Australian organisations have in the past few years often paired upgrades to desktop IP telephony hardware and associated back-office systems with new email systems, with Microsoft Exchange being the dominant platform. Qantas is no exception to this rule.

The IP telephony upgrade comes as Qantas confirmed in early February that it had commenced a migration from IBM’s Lotus Notes email platform to Microsoft Outlook/Exchange.

At the time, Qantas executive manager of corporate services and technology David Hall said the move was part of the airline’s technology group’s focus on enhancing communication effectiveness across its workforce with a mind to improving efficiencies for the business.

Qantas’ rollout comes as a number of other Australian organisations are still migrating to IP telephony solutions — if not with the same speed that they were throughout the past decade.

Westpac, for example, was rolling out thousands of Cisco handsets more than five years ago, and the Australian Federal Police followed with an Avaya solution the year after. St George also picked hardware from Avaya half a decade ago for its corporate office, before refreshing its branches with Panasonic gear.

But as recently as May last year, ANZ Bank revealed plans to land 20,000 Cisco IP handsets on the desks of its staff, for example.

Since moving up to his current role in October 2008 from his previous position as chief financial officer at Qantas subsidiary Jetstar, Hall has made dramatic changes to Qantas’ IT support operation.

In a landmark speech in August 2009, the executive said he believed Qantas could cut its IT costs by $100 million over the next financial year. Over the past couple of years the airline has pursued a number of IT outsourcing initiatives. For example, in mid-2009 some 200 Qantas staff were offered jobs at IBM as Big Blue took over responsibility for the airline’s project delivery services.

Image credit: Qantas