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We consider them part of the RCC team.

Riverside Community College's telecommunications manager reflects on an 11-year partnership with NEC

Kathy Paschke is network specialist for voice at Riverside Community College in Riverside, California. She manages a telecommunications system that serves the college’s nine locations.

A: We’ve been working with NEC since January 1995. We had an old legacy phone system that desperately needed to be upgraded or replaced so we went out to bid for new telephone systems. NEC was awarded the contract.

A: We have their hybrid PBX. It does both TDM and Voiceover IP. We have their unified messaging voicemail system andtheir OpenWorX Business Attendant System application.

A: Our legacy system was not supported anymore by the vendor, and that was a big issue. We were very new at PBX applications. So NEC helped us understand where we were and where we could go by using their PBX and voicemail systems.

A: One of the biggest challenges was when we went to a unified messaging voicemail system and a Voice-over IP-based PBX, we had to start working with our network department. Historically, at RCC, telecom and network didn’t talk very much. NEC helped our network department understand what the Voice-over IP role was on their network. The biggest thing that NEC taught us was how to play together nicely.

A: It was time to replace our PBX. So we had to look to either replacing it with a complete Voice-over IP system or what NEC recommended, which was the hybrid product. The reason we chose that was because we could keep all of our investment and still deploy Voice-over IP at our discretion.

A: The hybrid system works so well for us because, as we deploy Voice-over IP, the features are seamless to the user. When we upgrade over the weekend, they come in on Monday, their phone looks different, but their features are the same. So the transition is seamless. It decreases the time we have to spend in user training as we deploy Voice-over IP.

A: Yes; it has made our phone attendants much more productive. The Business Attendant system is computer-based, so attendants can dial by name; they can do their directory look-ups and send a call out with just one click. They look up the person and send the call, as opposed to using the old paper directory, a giant pain before. When they’re not as busy, they can also use their computer to do other things that they need to do throughout the day.

A: What I found is, even the smallest of upgrades or the smallest of changes that I make, NEC is here with me until I’m comfortable enough for them to go about their business on other tasks. When we did the upgrades, NEC actually held classes for our users on the different campuses until we had educated everyone.

A: Well, first of all, since 1995, when we installed the very first NEC system, I have not been down one time. Not once in 11 years. Period. Of course, sometimes there are problems. When we had some issues with some Voice-over IP deployments, NEC actually sent my normal engineer and a higher level engineer to our site, and they set up a duplicate system to replicate the problem. They worked in an office behind me, with both myself and the network team, until they resolved the issue. I had these resources until the issue was resolved.

A: I’ve dealt with the same people since 1995. I have the same engineer, the same sales group, the same everything, and that just speaks for itself. When I call and I need something, I don’t have to give somebody 45 minutes of history on what RCC actually has so they can go and ponder on it and decide what it is I want. They know the history, and we consider them part of the RCC team.