Avaya, together with ObjectTel, has built what they believe is the largest IP-based converged voice, data and radio network in the world – a massive network spanning 28 states and two Canadian provinces put together for the BNSF Railway Company.
No financial details were disclosed.
The most unusual features of the new network is that it links more than 1,100 wireless devices used by train and trackside maintenance workers, in essence turning them into VoIP phones whose calls are then integrated into the IP backbone. That trick is done with new code crafted by ObjectTel, which has created what it describes as a “highly scalable, mission-critical, interoperable” radio-to-telephone solution it’s calling “CLASSONE Dispatch.” ObjectTel is promoting the software as idea for any type of mission-critical enterprise applications that use radios, from transportation dispatch and disaster preparedness to public safety and emergency response.
Avaya telephony software is used to control, route, identify, conference and classify CLASSONE Dispatch radio calls, just as if they were phone calls. Because RF calls are treated just like regular phone calls, any phone on the network can dial any wireless device, and radios can be used to dial any wired or wireless phone, ObjectTel explains.
The new IP network also has been hooked to an existing Avaya-based converged voice and data network at BNSF’s main corporate campus and at its call centers in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Topeka, Kansas. On that existing network, BNSF’s taken just about the whole ball of wax Avaya has to offer, including applications for IP telephony, advanced conferencing, computer-telephony integration and management of multimedia customer contacts.
For those who aren’t railroad buffs, BNSF was formed through a merger of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railroads – a salient fact explaining the genesis of the new converged communications network. In total, BNSF is the surviving entity of 390 different railroad lines that merged or were acquired during more than 150 years.
When the merger took place in 1995, with operations merged a year later, each company had its own dedicated RF network to keep in touch with the crews who service trains, lay rails and keep tracks in good repair. “Neither network could be scaled to handle the combined size of the new company’s operations,” BNSF says, explaining the need for its massive new IP-based network. In addition, it notes, both railroads used proprietary technology, which meant the systems were unable to interoperate. And the railroad has apparently been chugging along ever since then, looking for the solution Avaya and OpenReach now have delivered.