Nortel Networks, together with Australian integrator Convergent, is nearing completion of a $15 million network rollout for financial institute Suncorp Metway.
The network is designed to carry voice, data, video and Internet traffic between Suncorp's Queensland branches and state offices.
In addition, it will eventually allow customers to speak with call centre consultants on screen via home telephones or new browser-based electronic teller machines, claimed the vendor.
According to Bruce Kirchner, Convergent's managing director, the company has worked on the Suncorp project for over a year and is a strategic local Nortel partner.
"At this stage we have installed 90 per cent of the equipment in the branches," he said.
"I've got people all over Queensland commissioning Passport and Meridian switches."
Meanwhile, up to 40 per cent of the equipment at Suncorp sites is already operational with the rollout expected for completion by September 30, Kirchner said.
In addition to the equipment's technical capabilities, the deal is designed to satisfy the Queensland Government's Y2K compliance expectations, he explained.
Gary Starr, Nortel's regional channel director, said the company beat off its traditional networking rivals because of its understanding of Suncorp's business.
"This was a business decision on Suncorp's behalf," he said. "Suncorp wanted to change what it termed customer care and we made this possible by offering unified applications, unified management and alternative methods of customer access," said Starr.
The Suncorp deal will be one of the first to implement what Nortel calls its Unified Network suite, comprised of Nortel's Meridian, Symposium and Passport systems.
"Our aim is to sell as many of these systems as we can," said Starr, who envisages the technology taking off across a broad spectrum of industries.
"We are using a range of partners for this deal. Convergent is helping us roll out the telephony side of things and Wang is partnering with us on the data side," said Starr.
Nortel is looking to recruit more partners as the business continues to expand into the converged networks arena.
The vendor is most interested in companies with Passport skills, something Starr believes is "a rare commodity at the moment".
Call centre expertise and project management experience are also required, according to Starr.
According to Kirchner, Convergent's value as a partner is grounded in its people and its ability to provide local support and integration services. "We have substantial voice experience and Nortel skills," he said.
The company currently has 25 full- time staff in addition to support from between 15 and 25 contractors.