DFT training leads to upgrades and savings for Dunkirk Schools

Three DFT Communications employees recently completed Avaya IP Office Class training, enabling them to service and install new and existing Avaya business telephone systems. The training allows DFT to complete upgrades at the Dunkirk School System, slated to begin in July.

Dennis Rickerson, Vern Post and Roy Korn recently attended the training, offered through CSSA, (Communications Supply Service Association), an industry-focused supplier dedicated to rural telecom service providers like DFT Communications.

The training will permit DFT to upgrade existing Nortel phone system owners to a new hybrid IP key/PBX system affordably, without having to replace the telephone handsets, while adding a variety of attractive features.

Recently, DFT won a bid to complete phone system upgrades at Dunkirk Schools, including four elementary, middle and high school sites. According to Ellen Ditonto, director of sales and business development, DFT received the bid due to competitive pricing through its membership in CSSA, helping the district save over $80,000.

“Nortel was a huge producer of PBX’s, commonly used at very large institutions like Dunkirk Schools. Moving to the next level of hardware and software could have required replacing 400 handsets at $200 apiece, something avoided by using the Avaya IP Office 500 system,” he said.

Another advantage is its compatibility with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), using a hybrid system, which combines VoIP with traditional TDM or digital handsets.

According to Jay Beers, senior sales consultant with DFT, the upgrade allows Dunkirk schools to free up over half the fiber optic strands they had originally assigned between schools for voice communications.

“Everything that we’re doing now is using two fiber optic strands to tie them together and the new (equipment) only needs one,” he said.

Beers explains that will mean more fiber is freed to use for other networks, video or additional backup solutions for data. “It’s more efficient because it (Avaya) uses half the fiber.”

Ditonto adds the upgrade will also use less power, which translates to still another cost savings, “It’s also green in terms of helping the environment because it uses a lot less power, and that’s an very important part of the solution it’s cost savings in another area for Dunkirk schools in electric bills.” She adds that it will expand the time the school can use its digital phones, from five to perhaps ten years in the future.

Still another benefit is that the Avaya system provides increased emergency preparedness; another reason schools are seeking upgraded equipment.

“This will give 911 station by station location and not just by school,” Beers said. “When a teacher or anyone else picks up a handset, E-911 will see the location specifically within the school. In the past, emergency responders would just know the call was coming from the high school or middle school.”

Another feature is that voicemail is set up on a Windows server, which gives each school their own auto attendant and teachers will have the opportunity to customize voice mailboxes for better communications with parents, students and school staff.

Tim Abbey, Director of Buildings, Grounds and Transportation at Dunkirk City Schools, said that the upgrade take place without changes to the phone system’s user interface.

“The phone sets have the same features, which omits a learning curve.” Using the infrastructure already in place was also a benefit,” Abbey said. “DFT spent a tremendous amount of time evaluating our current system in deciding what would work best. They not only came in with the best price, but also provided a system which will be in place for a number of years.”

Approximately 65 percent of DFT’s business market with Nortel equipment can take advantage of upgrades using the Avaya system, according to company officials. The systems that can be upgraded include the Nortel – Business Communication Manager (BCM), Compact Integrated Communication Systems (CICS), and Modular Integrated Communication Systems, (MCIS). DFT offers other migration plans for customers that are not on older Nortel systems using Samsung and Iwatsu/ICON Voice Networks phone systems. Another option is the company’s hosted VoIP solutions, which can reduce upfront capital cost and recurring cost for software upgrades.

For questions regarding the Avaya or any other telephone system upgrade, customers should call DFT Communications at 673-3000 or 1-877-653-3100, or visit