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09:25 PM
Kristi Nelson
Kristi Nelson
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Can You Hear Me Now?

UnumProvident cuts remote call costs and increases flexibility by moving from a private network to an Internet-based solution from IVANS.

Under pressure to cut costs, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based UnumProvident ($49.7 billion in assets) sought an alternative to the private frame relay system that supported its 3,000 remote users. "It was a cost issue," says Joe Aube, systems consultant at UnumProvident. "We had cost challenges for providing a private network, as well as cost challenges because a lot of our users needed to use 800 service to access the environment."

After evaluating solutions from its current provider as well as other vendors, UnumProvident selected Business Internet Services from IVANS (Old Greenwich, Conn.) and made the move to AT&T's Global Client Network. According to Aube, the new solution offers multiple advantages over the MCI PAL network that it had been using for the past four years.

For example, under UnumProvident's previous plan, each account was billed a flat monthly rate, whether it was used for 30 minutes or 300 hours. The IVANS solution offers one plan for low-volume users, who are billed at an hourly rate, and another for high-volume users, who are billed at a monthly rate. The IVANS solution also provides more flexibility in shifting users from one plan to another. "It's just a software change on the AT&T network, as well as a minor change to the client software on the desktop," Aube relates.

In addition, the new system provides easy access to account information through IVANS' Web portal, allowing UnumProvident to monitor costs and activate new accounts immediately, rather than waiting 24 to 48 hours. Waiting two days "doesn't work for a CFO who needs to dial in and get some numbers," Aube suggests.

Implementation began in July 2003 as part of an enterprisewide desktop refresh that included conversion from Microsoft Windows NT to Windows XP and other application updates. The rollout was completed in April 2004, with the exception of UnumProvident's Canadian operation, which was delayed due to its pending sale to Royal Bank of Canada.

The IVANS' system also allowed the carrier to utilize the Cisco VPN solution that it had already installed to allow employees with high-speed Internet connections to access the VPN from their homes. "We wanted to integrate our dial services so that it could use that same infrastructure," Aube says. "We just configured our client, with the help of IVANS, to automatically start our VPN client after [users] have connected to the AT&T network."

A 24/7 help desk, manned by IVANS and provided at no extra cost, was set up to help users transition to the new system. UnumProvident also built a Web-based training module to walk users through the configuration process. "It allowed us to educate our users, who are located throughout the United States and Canada, where we can't sit down and give them a training class on how to use it," Aube relates.

The company didn't have to wait long to reap the benefits of Internet-based calls. "We save $40,000 to $50,000 a month with this solution," Aube says. Part of that savings results from increased access to local numbers, which minimize toll charges. "The local number footprint increased by five to seven times," Aube notes.

The solution also has helped Unum-Provident improve its budgeting process. Now, departments are charged back a fixed rate each month. "They love that," Aube says. "Now they have a constant month-to-month budget."

Case Study Profile


UnumProvident (Chattanooga, Tenn.; $49.7 billion in assets).

Lines of Business

Group and individual disability.


IVANS (Old Greenwich, Conn.) Business Internet Services with AT&T Global Client Network.

The Challenge

Replace private network with an Internet-based call solution that would reduce 800-number surcharges and other costs.

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