U.S. Social Security Blows $300 Million on Nortel VoIP system

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Randy Savicky
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U.S. Social Security Blows $300 Million on Nortel VoIP system

Thumbnail image for nortel-logo.gifAccording to CNN:
Nortel Government Solutions, a U.S. company wholly owned by Nortel completed the core network for the massive new U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) VoIP system within 180 days of initial purchase orders, an aggressive requirement of the 10-year, US $300 million Telephone Systems Replacement Project (TSRP) award.

Now I'm all for Social Security upgrading their phone systems and going VoIP, but $300 million? $300 million? That's just crazy talk. What's in this Nortel phone system - titanium? platinum? Surely, there must be a cheaper, perhaps open source solution that can save the Social Security program millions, which means saving me, the U.S. taxpayer millions.

Ok, so I read further...
The new system, expected to become one of the largest enterprise VoIP deployments in the world, is already supporting more than 125 offices and more than 33,500 calls daily. To date, the new system has handled over 1.6 million calls. With 12-16 offices added each week, approximately 500 offices will be added per year until all 1,526 offices are online. Nortel Government Solutions has engineered the system to support over 100,000 phones.
Ok, now that is one massive integrated VoIP phone system. It definitely has to handle quite a bit of call volume, lots of phone endpoints (100,000+), security, management, etc. Government institutions have to be especially wary of security and privacy implications, so Nortel probably offers special professional services to ensure security and high availability. I still keep tripping over the $300 million though, which is part of the Telephone Systems Replacement Project (TSRP). Doesn't this sound eerily similar to TARP (Trouble Assets Relief program), the massive U.S. government bailout program? Only 1 letter off.

Social security is going bankrupt and they're spending hundreds of millions on a newfandagled phone system made by a Canadian and not by an American company. Makes perfect sense to me. American taxpayers may as well bailout Nortel, Canada's pride and joy telecom company.

Just kidding folks. The SSA should choose the best phone system at the best price. Obviously, Nortel won the contract fair and square. Unless of course they greased some palms at the SSA. When it comes to the government and politics, I am always a bit wary.



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