Case Study: United Service Organization

The United Service Organization (USO) Lounges serve as a “home away from home” for military personnel travelling through major US airports. Access is privileged to Active, Reserve, National Guard, Merchant Marine, retirees and their dependants. The three lounges at the Washington, D.C. metropolitan airports (USO-Metro) together served over 110,000 personnel in 2009.

Customer Profile

Service Lounges for military personnel and their families, serving over 110,000 in 2009

  •  BWI – Baltimore airport
  •  DCA – Reagan National D.C. airport
  •  IAD – Dulles D.C airport

Needs

  • A secure and cost effective communications tool
  • Cordless handsets allowing mobility and privacy
  • Access to international and domestic voice services

Solution

  • BWI
    • 2 Aastra SIP-DECT access points
    • 30 Aastra DECT 142 handsets
    • Verizon Hosted VoIP Service
  • Dulles
    • 1 Aastra SIP-DECT access point
    • 5 Aastra DECT 142 handsets
    • Verizon Hosted VoIP service
  • National
    • 1 Aastra SIP-DECT access point
    • 5 Aastra DECT 142 handsets
    • Verizon Hosted VoIP Service

USO-Metro is an affiliate USO chapter that relies entirely on special event fundraising and the generosity of private individuals and corporations to fund its programs. Only 7% of their annual budget goes toward management and fundraising projects.

Among the many complimentary amenities provided in the USO-Metro lounges is VoIP phone service for those visitors wishing to contact loved ones before they depart.

“Nice friendly people to see us off. The phones are great for one last goodbye”

Deploying Lt. Col, US Army

Check-in time for military personnel is six hours before departure time, so visitors to the lounge have considerable waiting time and the phones and service have proved to be one of the most popular amenities provided. Service men and women can take the opportunity to connect one more time with family and friends before deploying.

At the end of 2008, the existing phones were reaching end-of-life and the USO-Metro began looking for replacements. They turned to their trusted partner Verizon, who has provided the VoIP service since 2005, for suggestions. The result was the introduction of Aastra’s SIP-DECT™ solution. The SIP-DECT technology provides reliable, high quality, secure wireless communication.

The solution consists of:

  •  DECT access points running Open Mobility Manager (OMM) software.
  •  Verizon Hosted IP Centrex (HIPC). The OMM communicates with the Verizon service using the industry standard SIP protocol
  •  Enterprise-grade DECT handsets. The cordless handsets provide mobility and the 1.9 GHz frequency ensures the communication doesn’t interfere with other frequencies in use at the airport.

The first implementation was at the USO-Metro International Gateway Lounge at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. This $1.1 million 5,000 square-foot facility serves U.S. Armed Forces traveling to and from duty stations in Europe, Southwest Asia and the United States – in FY09, the BWI lounge served 69,603 visitors! The SIP-DECT solution at the Gateway Lounge was implemented by Aastra and Verizon Business technicians working together to configure and validate the service. While the range of the SIP-DECT access points is 300,000 sq. ft., two SIP-DECT access points were installed for redundancy and added capacity. Together, they are capable of supporting 16 simultaneous calls. Additional handsets are available to ensure phones are always charged and ready.

After the successful deployment at BWI, Verizon personnel rolled out the solution at the USO-Metro lounge in Dulles airport next and finally at Reagan National. They provide ongoing support as needed.

“The wife of a departing soldier called to thank the USO for furnishing her husband with a VOIP phone just before he left. The call meant so much to both of them.”

USO-Metro Volunteer

Key Benefits

  • Enterprise-grade – high reliability, quality, security and scalability
  • Up to 12-hours talk time; 120 hours stand-by time and 5-6 hours re-charge time
  • Interference free communications – DECT frequency doesn’t conflict with WiFi and other transmissions in use at the airport
  • Based on SIP standard so automatically interoperable with Verizon’s hosted VoIP service
  • In surveys conducted among visitors to the lounge, the phones and service are consistently rated among the most valuable amenity provided.