A growing digital marketing agency gets increased capacity by ditching a traditional telephone system in favour of an integrated IP system that drops in, switches on and eliminates limitations in extensions and cabling that had been a business headache for some time.

The Problem
Star Digital Marketing Services Ltd is a digital design agency based in Northamptonshire located near the grounds of Castle Ashby, the seat of the Marquis of Northampton.
As with all businesses, telecommunications is an essential part of their infrastructure enabling them to stay in touch with customers and partners at all stages of the projects they work on.
Their existing telephony infrastructure was a legacy BT TDM telephone system with several handsets located throughout the building. This system was coming to the end of its supported life and was no longer cost-effective to upgrade with additional capacity and proving expensive and time-consuming to make simple configuration changes to meet the needs of the business.
The company headquarters is an old converted grade II listed Victorian schoolhouse with some structured cabling throughout the two floors. As there was a finite number of ports used by both phone and data, there were limitations to where they could place handsets and a number of users had to share. The general consensus was that the only option available to them was to pull new cabling throughout the building until they spoke to their IT partner.
Having looked after their server, data network and Internet connectivity infrastructure for a number of years and having recently completed a smooth server migration, ITbuilder were consulted to design a communication system that addressed these problems on the understanding that new IP technology has the potential to solve some of these problems.

The Solution
The business has operated with 2 x ISDN2 circuits giving 4 call channels and a number of DDI’s (Direct Dials). They needed a solution that embraced this traditional TDM telephony (ISDN) with its inherent reliability but also embraced new VoIP technology. Additional handsets were needed to provide was coverage throughout the building to all users, to alleviate the problem of having to share phones and having to physically move to another room to use a handset.
The system also needed to be able handle multiple DDI (direct dial numbers), provide an auto attendant facility with multiple greetings for different companies and applications, include a voicemail for individual users as well as general company mailboxes for group monitoring messages and, of course, flexibility and room for future expansion.
ITbuilder, being an independent approved partner for a number of unified communications vendors, selected the Cisco UC500 system as the ideal solution. This ‘all-in-one’ system has been designed specifically for the small business allowing up to 138 users, a wide array of IP phones, and ISDN & SIP trunk connectivity. This series eliminates the need for multiple servers and combines voice, data, video, security, and wireless capabilities. It integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendar, email, and customer relationship management (CRM) programs.

Product Features:

• From 8 to 138 IP phone stations
• From 4 to 12 analogue trunks or 2 to 6 Basic Rate Interface (BRI) ISDN digital trunks
• Optional one or two T1/E1 voice interface (Primary Rate Interface [PRI] and channel associated signalling [CAS])
• Integrated voicemail
• Automated attendant
• Integrated business productivity applications
• Integrated security
• Music on hold
• Integrated wireless on select models
• Simple system configuration and management


The UC500 is an IP system that uses packetized voice and integration with a switched data network. This enabled Star Digital to economise on the number of wall-ports, using only one per user with phone and computer using the same uplink to the network. This was achieved by supplying desk phones and data switches with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) with handsets taking their power over the network cabling reducing cable clutter. Also, the phone handsets could also be located anywhere in the building and did not need an engineer to come out to relocate the socket; it simply just plugged into any available network port and could be installed ‘in-line’ of any computer using that port using the integrated 2-port switch built into the handset.
In the rear studio, where the developers work in a desk cluster that did not lend itself to having a desk phone per user and where the staff only make occasional calls, ITbuilder suggested a neat solution to save space yet provide a business extension per user. Using the UC500 wireless integration features, ‘soft phones’ were deployed on users’ iPhones which allows full functionality of an extension utilising their existing iPhone handsets. This was achieved by downloading and installing a free Cisco App called Jabber from the Apple App Store.
As the building was an old Victorian building with very thick walls it was a challenge to come up with a wireless solution to allow full coverage of the building and to allow the users to roam throughout and use their iPhones as extensions on the system.
ITbuilder installed two clustered wireless access points which integrated with the UC500 and allowed full coverage throughout the building. As well as supporting multimedia voice they were setup with secure data and guest internet access.

The UC500 was setup utilising VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) technology. This allowed ITbuilder to separate VoIP traffic from regular data traffic across the company network and avoid potential issues where high utilization on the data network could impact quality on the voice network.

The Benefits
Costs were reduced by the removal of the expensive on-going BT maintenance contract and the use of soft phone application on the iPhones negated the cost of additional hardware.
The use of the auto attendant and hunt groups for each company enabled each call to be answered appropriately, the name of the line called and the name/number of the caller being displayed to the recipient proved invaluable. DDI’s direct to users, individual voicemail boxes, integration with Microsoft Outlook to notify and send voicemails to the user’s mailbox, and the facility to roam throughout the building improved productivity and avoided lost opportunities. The flexibility of remote access to the UC500 via the Internet allows for configuration changes to take place from ITbuilders’ support department so that quick changes can be put into effect and at reduced cost of an engineering visit.