Mike Gaudreau of VIA Rail Canada Inc. says he chose a telecommunications network from MTS Allstream Inc. for the forward-thinking savvy and edgy competitiveness shown by the service provider. They’re qualities Gaudreau has come to easily recognize.
“VIA Rail is in the transportation business, and it’s very competitive. We have to react quickly and be innovative,” said Gaudreau, Via Rail’s manager of technical support. “We needed a supplier that can do the same for us.”
And, in less than two months, Gaudreau is already seeing the cost savings in switching from an ATM-frame relay network to a Transparent LAN Service (TLS).
“One of the drivers is that we are saving a lot of money,” said Gaudreau. “It’s in six figures over the life of the contract.”
Allstream, in a three-year deal announced recently, is providing VIA Rail with essential voice and data telecommunications: local landline services, toll-free access for long distance calls, data capabilities and primary Internet access.
Gaudreau said the tight implementation timeline had proved challenging. The project began in the spring and was completed at the beginning of August.
According to Howard Bowles, vice-president of solution sales for Allstream, the first objective for his company was to save VIA Rail money. “The second is to change the company’s technology and bring it up to date,” he added.
Bowles said the biggest challenge when implementing a TLS, especially when transferring from an incumbent, was not to have any service interruption.
Transparent LAN Services join multi-site offices over any preferred configuration. The LAN is labelled transparent because, to the users, the network appears as one. VIA Rail is using the TLS as a private corporate LAN that will tie together 15 locations such as its call centres across Canada, admininstrative offices, train stations and maintenance centres.
Gaudreau said the TLS would help these locations connect to the servers at VIA Rail’s headquarters in Montreal and access the day-to-day business and desktop applications.
“The advantage with a TLS network is that if we wanted to go to a VPN, it would be more readily accomplished with an MPLS-enabled carrier network,” said Gaudreau. “The transition would be less difficult.”
With Bell Canada, its previous service provider, VIA Rail would probably have needed to change equipment or upgrade its software, added Gaudreau.
Winnipeg-based Allstream won a request for proposal issued by VIA Rail last September, when the previous contract with Bell expired.
Allstream is also offering voice over IP services, but Gaudreau said it would be a while before VIA Rail deployed VoIP. “It’s something we’re definitely looking at. We’re pilot testing VoIP here at headquarters and we’ll deploy where it makes sense,” he said.