CGI helps Bell double its telephone numbers capacity in Toronto
“This was a major project necessitating a team effort. It required good interaction with each party having the responsibility of delivering what it was accountable for… it worked very well. All along there was an excellent working relationship between Bell and CGI. And frankly we couldn’t have done it without CGI.”
Patrick O’Toole, General Manager IS/IT, Bell Canada
Faced with a growing demand for telephone numbers brought about by the escalating number of cellular telephones, fax machines, pagers and modems, as well as the entry of competitive local exchange carriers into the market, Bell Canada, in the Toronto area, was running out of numbers. Its choice was to either split or overlay its 416 and 905 area codes networks.
The overlay consists essentially in superposing an area code over another one, thus doubling the telephone numbers capacity for that particular area. The only drawback for users is that they have to dial 10-digit numbers instead of the usual seven in the particular area.
Bell Canada chose the overlay route and Bell Canada picked CGI – “mainly because of its expertise” – to set up the new infrastructure. The project lasted more than two and a half years with a total of 500 CGI people working on it.
CGI’s challenge was multifold: transfer 125 applications from mainframe to PC, client server and Web platforms; deploy new enhanced applications on more than 10,000 workstations; redesign the infrastructure and implement new billing, customer care, service provisioning and network surveillance applications.
The original scope of the project only applied to the 416 area code. However, half way through the completion of the project, Bell Canada realized it was also running out of telephone numbers in the 905 area code and presented CGI with an added challenge: provide an NPA overlay for that area code as well.
CGI began by trying to isolate the changes needed in all the applications some were simple such as adding a compressed NPA but most were complex. In each case, a solution was found and rapidly implemented. The successful changes being made to 416 were then replicated in 905. The role of Bell was to specify the requirements and develop the business process that were required. CGI’s role was to do all the technical work of modifying applications and do the preliminary testing, while Bell engineers did the validation testing. It was a team effort.
For CGI, the strategy implied the introduction of 125 new applications, the modification and creation of 2,000 programs and the completion of 10,000 test cases. The company had to meet 900 milestones and, in many cases, it did so ahead of time. Furthermore, CGI contributed its functional business knowledge to the engineering of new processes led by Bell.
- Application Development: Web-based C Cobol
- Database: Database IMS, DB2, Access
- Operating System: Mainframe MVS, CICS, UNIX , Windows
- Servers: UNIX or NT (HP, IBM, Compaq)
Three months later, Bell Canada implemented the overlay for the 905 area. With the overlays, the area codes 647 and 289 were added to the 416 and 905 area codes respectively. Successful on time completion of two area code overlays doubled the phone numbers capacity in one of the largest metropolitan areas in North America.
“CGI did a fantastic job on the overlay… very high quality work done under budget and on time with virtually no rework required,” says Patrick O’Toole, General Manager IS/IT, Bell Canada. “It was a very successful project.”
Customer surveys during the implementation of the whole project indicated a rate of satisfaction ranging from 9.3 to 9.6 out of 10 which is especially high considering the fact that it was the first time that an overlay was implemented in Canada and that the service offered to Bell customers did not suffer in the process.
“This was a major project necessitating a team effort. It required good interaction with each party having the responsibility of delivering what it was accountable for… it worked very well,” Patrick O’Toole added. “All along there was an excellent working relationship between Bell and CGI. And frankly we couldn’t have done it without CGI.”
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