OTTAWA — Canadian Federal workers will find themselves in the midst of a robust telecommunications transformation in the coming months and years as the government cuts the cord on landlines and moves to mobile devices.
The end result is expected to be millions in savings at a time when the Harper government is hoping to slash spending and balance the books by the 2015 federal election, and make flexible a bureaucracy that it sees in need of modernity.
Spending will drop between 15 and 30 percent in some cases, or so the government hopes, as it moves to Internet telephones and mobile devices, ending the need in some cases for dedicated landlines.
The government will increase the number of Internet Protocol (IP) telephones to more than 150,000 from the less than 10,000 logged in late 2012. It would also see about 300,000 legacy landlines, known as CENTREX phones, that cost about $86 million annually, completely eliminated.
The plan also calls for about three-quarters of the more than 110,000 public workers with two different phones to lose one of their devices.
There are also plans to expand and modernize video conferencing capabilities, which the government hopes will cut travel costs.
Companies and industry groups have been given overviews of the plan over the past year and asked to give advice to the agency overseeing the project.
The details are laid out in a series of presentations and briefing notes to the president of Shared Services Canada over the last few months. Copies of the documents were released to Postmedia News under the access-to-information law.
Shared Services Canada was scheduled to start purchasing new equipment before the end of the last fiscal year, which finished on March 31. It is part of a broader plan to increase wireless access to more than 3,000 buildings, up from less than 100, and drop to one from 50 the number of wide-area networks for more than 40 departments.
(Parliament Hill doesn’t have wireless Internet access, but the House of Commons plans to offer it in the future. No clear timeline has been put forward, and the project would be separate from the work of Shared Services Canada.)
The revolution will be spread out over waves of small projects, according to the presentations.
Shared Services Canada is aiming to reduce security risks by creating a single “best-in-class” security center to manage network operations across the government and considered forcing suppliers and service providers to “only use trusted equipment” and companies. Those that aren’t trustworthy are on the government’s “naughty list.”
But about one year ago, Shared Services Canada decided it couldn’t download that responsibility to the industry, making companies liable for any security issues or breaches. Companies either wouldn’t accept any such clauses in contracts, “or that it would be legally enforceable,” says a last February briefing note.
Federal VoIP by the numbers:
- The approximate number of federal workers in 2012 (minus RCMP and Canadian Forces): 255,000
- Number in 2012 with two phones: More than 110,000
- Number of IP telephones in 2013: 12,700
- Number of IP telephones at the end of the project: More than 150,000
- Number of Wide-Area Networks (WANs) in 2012: 50
- Number of WANs at the end of the project: 1
- Number of buildings with LAN wireless services in 2012: 100
- Number of buildings with LAN wireless services at the end of the project: 3,000
- Approximate cost of telecommunications in 2012: $780 million per year
- (Source: Shared Services Canada documents)
Further to this move in 2017 Ottawa signed a seven-year contract with Telus Corp. to move to VoIP to a further 80,000 landlines. The total of VoIP phone lines is close to 200,000 for the federal government. The move comes in part as to modernize communications and also because some of the equipment used on old landlines is no longer supported. Making the Canadian Government the heaviest VoIP Phone user in Canada.
Adding to the City of Winnipeg and now the federal government making the move to VoIP, to the ever-increasing businesses across the country jumping the VoIP bandwagon; the question is have you gone the VoIP way yet?