FedEx Freight saves with voice over frame relay

In 2001, FedEx Freight, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. formed largely through the acquisition of American Freightways and Viking Freight, had 270 customer centres with a patchwork of vintage key systems that were starting to fail. The company specializes in deliveries to customers engaged in just-in-time manufacturing and has to maintain constant voice communication with thousands of drivers around the country.

FedEx Freight chose the Siemens AG HiCom iHi150 VoIP platform and hopes to have more than 100 sites converted before year-end. The switches are equipped with frame relay interfaces so interoffice voice traffic can piggyback on the frame relay data network and use available bandwidth.

“It’s reduced our monthly outlay on [software defined networks], and we are getting a payback of about seven months,” says Jeff Amerine, managing director of communications and network services for FedEx Freight. He says the company is testing voice-over-IP on the smaller locations, and then expects to deploy larger Siemens HiPath switches – 4000s or 5000s – at the bigger sites.

Amerine says FedEx Freight went with a hybrid platform from an established PBX vendor because the switches available at the time from the pure IP players were missing too many features, or implemented them in ways that were “too kludge-y.”