Cisco Canada Blog

Need a better phone system? You don’t need to rip-and-replace your cabling infrastructure to get IP

August 30, 2018

If your legacy phone system is no longer delivering what your business needs, you aren’t alone.

For many companies, obsolete PBX phone systems simply can’t address the communication and collaboration needs of the modern workforce. The result? Companies are rapidly modernizing their legacy system and replacing it with a more robust, reliable IP system.

But what if your company can’t afford – or doesn’t have the time – to rip and replace existing cabling infrastructure to support IP?

Enter NVT Phybridge, a Canadian-based technology innovator and the global leader in Power over Long Reach Ethernet (PoLRE®) technology. Simply put, what NVT Phybridge does is allow for any company to upgrade to IP securely, simply, and affordably.

How? By leveraging a business’ existing phone cabling CAT3 infrastructure to transmit data and power. No need to rip-and-replace for an IP system. Your existing infrastructure, NVT Phybridge switches, and Cisco endpoints. It’s that easy.

To discuss this further, I sat down with Steven Fair, EVP Business Development, to answer some common questions around legacy and IP phone systems.

Why shouldn’t I just keep using my legacy phone system?

Steven Fair: The biggest advantages of IP telephony are call quality, communication efficiency, and mobility. Enhanced IP applications allow users to take advantage of one-on-one video calls, video conferencing, instant messaging, and more. An IP-based system can also integrate with third-party applications, such as Salesforce and Outlook. These capabilities facilitate more meaningful interactions in today’s fast-paced work environment, whether you’re at the office, working from home, or at an industry event.

IP telephony also provides organizations with flexible management options to best fit their needs, including on-premise, cloud, or UCaaS, and is extremely scalable, increasing and decreasing users as business needs evolve.

There has never been a better time to modernize to an all-IP telephony solution. Many providers are announcing the end-of-life of their aging technology and are no longer supporting legacy systems. At the same time, the total cost to implement an IP voice solution has decreased dramatically in recent years.

Is it true that my business can only get IP telephony by ripping out and replacing the existing wiring infrastructure?

Steven Fair: Businesses looking at modernizing to IP do not need to rip-and-replace their CAT3 infrastructure. Copper wiring has a 2000-year half-life, and new Power over Ethernet (PoE) innovations provide a modernization path to customers who can’t, or don’t want to, rip-and-replace. If you have functioning devices working on that infrastructure today, it will support your new IP devices well into the future.

Every organization wants to maximize their return on investment. Given new PoE innovations, outlined by Frost & Sullivan in their latest whitepaper about Modern LAN design, organizations can now reuse their existing infrastructure investment to create a robust, secure and reliable backbone for IP voice.

Customers all over the world are already using this solution to support their Cisco phones and applications, including powerful government agencies, hospitals, cruise ships, and large university campuses. This short video explains the success New Mexico State University has experienced since using long-reach PoE technology to deploy Cisco IP solutions.

We also found that environmental responsibility and sustainability is a large concern for many organizations considering upgrading to IP. By reusing existing infrastructure, our customers can, and have, save hundreds of tons of cables from entering landfills.

How do you respond to customers who say this is a temporary solution, considering many organizations want to transmit multiple gigabytes (GB) to the edge?

Steven Fair: Traditional LAN design will consolidate voice onto the core network, often by “daisy-chaining” the computer through the IP phone. Our PoLRE® switch allows customers to leverage their existing point-to-point voice topology. The difference is very important. We can all agree that IP is the future and will replace legacy systems. However, when we ask customers which is more reliable, they say legacy. Why is this the case? It’s not because of the technology, it’s because of the supporting LAN topology.

Organizations are starting to require multiple GB to the edge to support core PC-centric applications. If you plan to send 10GB to the desktop in the future and are utilizing the daisy-chain method, that connection will be bottlenecked by the port speed on your phone. Now you’re faced with replacing otherwise perfectly functioning phones due to network requirements of a different device.

Separating voice at the edge allows you to allocate the right amount of bandwidth and power for every device. As we move to the Internet of Things we must consider more than just bandwidth, but also power and latency requirements of each unique device. An IP phone is latency sensitive, requires PoE, and needs very little bandwidth. On the other hand, PCs are locally powered and require a lot more bandwidth. When you consider network design from this point of view, our strategy is more permanent than temporary, providing a modernization path that is simple, secure, and cost-effective.

Aside from maximizing ROI and creating a secure and robust voice network, how else does PoLRE® help organizations modernize on Cisco IP?

Steven Fair: Many organizations simply cannot justify the disruptions and risk of having to replace their existing infrastructure. Consider a hospital. The renovations and construction work required to rip-and-replace the wiring means shutting down parts of the building to prevent health risks to patients. The cost of setting up and moving these quarantine zones, as well as doing the work, is extremely disruptive, time consuming, and costly.

Cruise ships are another great example. Not only would the vessels need to stay docked for months while the re-cabling takes place, but the added weight of Ethernet cables and additional network infrastructure increases fuel costs and could decrease passenger capacity.

Many university and government buildings were constructed as early as the 1800’s and protected under historical preservation laws. Applying for and receiving approval to rip-and-replace network infrastructures can delay projects indefinitely. Assuming permission is granted, strict architectural guidelines increase project cost and deployment time.

These are just a few examples of the barriers some organizations face that many of us don’t consider. We have helped hundreds of customers modernize to an all IP platform, instead of maintaining a hybrid analog\digital\IP environment.

My thanks to Steven for taking the time to discuss how easy it can be for companies to upgrade to IP. Congratulations are also in order, as NVT Phybridge recently announced it has helped organizations worldwide save more than $100 million in infrastructure costs. To celebrate, Cisco customers can receive free proof-of-concept equipment to prove out the technology in their environment. Register now.

Learn more about Cisco collaboration solutions.




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