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UK County Upgraded Mobile Communication Networks, IVR for Tour de France

July 28, 2014
By Matt Paulson, TMCnet Contributing Writer

The Tour de France may be over for this year, but Computer Weekly notes that the benefits to the U.K.’s Yorkshire communication grids will continue to live strong, thanks to the numerous upgrades the county council made to them. Yorkshire's Grand Depart stage, where the race was kicked off, held crowds of more than two million people spread out across hundreds of miles to witness the first couple of days of the event. These crowds did more than just cheer on their favorite contenders; they also updated their Facebook (News - Alert) statuses about the event and tweeted pictures of the athletes to their friends, in addition to making phone calls and texts back home and browsing the Internet on their phones at night.

In order to accommodate this massive amount of digital traffic, the North Yorkshire County Council installed major upgrades to the region's IP telephony infrastructure. To the south, the Leeds City Council drastically increased the capacity of the local Virgin Media (News - Alert) Business Wi-Fi network.

The race started on Saturday July 5th, and both cities were keenly aware that they would need to provide resilient and high quality communications to the sports fans that would be visiting, while simultaneously supporting their own residents' mobile network usage. The North Yorkshire County Council has held a partnership with network integrator Azzuri since 2006, so naturally they were the first group that the council came to, to improve IP telephony in the area.

Azzurri deployed two Bronze Command Centers that each employed their own Mitel IP telephony solutions with built-in disaster recovery features to ensure that the race's central communications grid would work smoothly and without issue. As this is one of the world's largest sporting events, reliability was key.

Additionally, Azzurri installed an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to help manage incoming calls to the Tour de France's contact centers. The IVR allowed callers to talk to a machine to find information before being connected to a call agent, and 62 percent of callers reported being satisfied with the answers given to them by the IVR. This significantly reduced strain on the call agents, who could spend more time answering the more detailed questions the IVR couldn't handle.

When the service was finally made available on July 5th, more than 82 percent of the users were connecting to the network for the first time, which is a strong indication of just how many more users were added to the network.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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