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City may soon restart VoIP talks with Bell - Metro US

City may soon restart VoIP talks with Bell

The city might be hanging up on Mitel’s challenge to the bidding for a parts and service of a new digital voice network worth up to $7 million.

City staff are recommending that the Corporate Services and Economic Development Committee restart negotiations for Voice Over Internet Protocol services with Bell Canada/Cisco Systems, despite Mitel’s position that the bidding process was unfair.

VoIP would merge the city’s traditional telephone and data networks into a single integrated infrastructure.

The new technologies would allow for applications like video and web conferencing, integrated voice messaging, and improved performance from call centres.

After a nearly two-year-long bidding process, Bell Canada/Cisco came out as the preferred suppliers for the new network.

But the procurement process was suspended in early April when Mitel, an unsuccessful bidder, offered $2 million worth of free hardware in exchange for the servicing contract.

That offer was rescinded after a fairness commission ruled it out of order, but Mitel chairman Terry Matthews denounced the procurement process as having “significant flaws.”

Mitel’s position is that there was an implicit unfair advantage in favour of the current data network provider, Cisco, which is also part of the winning the VoIP bid.

Matthews position is that over the past two years, the data network was upgraded to prepare it for VoIP, but those changes were not provided to other proponents, meaning their bids were based on inaccurate data.

Mitel is asking the city to cancel the current process.

However, Rob Collins, acting as the city’s Chief Technology Adviser, found that, based on technological and commercial aspects of bidding process, there was no reason to invalidate the results.

“Given the amount of money already spent and the need to start addressing short-term issues, it would not be to the city’s benefit to halt the process leaving themselves with no solution,” he wrote in the report.

The issue will be debated Monday.

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