Office of the Chief Information Officer

United States Department of Agriculture

Unified Communications as a Service

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Service Description

CTS Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) functions as a delivery platform that provides an adaptable suite of communication and collaboration capabilities under a single service framework. The platform allows CTS to provide commercial carrier class communication networks that provide the capability to offer different communications feature sets for each customer based on unique business requirements. Utilization of Unified Communications (UC) technologies enables the CTS UCaaS offering to: connect geographically distributed employees located in home offices or hoteling workspaces, allow employees to access and collaborate dynamically via voice or video from the desktop or mobile device, bring agency employees together and facilitate increased productivity from anywhere to everywhere. This service is available to all USDA agencies as customers of CTS.

CTS UCaaS is comprised of two components: UC-Voice and (Enterprise Video Teleconferencing) (also known as Enterprise VTC). CTS UCaaS provides the customer with the flexibility to select single services or mix and match services as dictated by customer specific business needs.

Unified Communications Voice (UC-Voice)

UC-Voice is centrally managed enterprise-class Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony service for USDA users across multiple locations and/or geographic regions over the IP network. Customers are integrated into the USDA Enterprise wide dial plan for on-net calling and consolidated off-net Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) access. The CTS UC-Voice service provides USDA customers the flexibility to enroll in the UC-Voice services only or where needed to meet customer business requirements. This is achieved via various UC-Voice service options.

UC-Voice service begins with customized assessment, planning, and implementation prior to moving to standardized operating support:

  • Startup Activities
    • Assess: CTS resources conduct an evaluation of requirements, specifications and existing site infrastructure. CTS meets with the customer to review the findings, provide information regarding service options and recommend the most viable solution to meet the business need.
    • Plan: CTS resources provide a standard solution design and develop technical specifications.
    • Implement: CTS provides resources to provision services, configure and deploy devices and transition from on premise service to UCaaS infrastructure.
  • Post Implementation Standard Operating Support
    • Support: CTS provides maintenance and monitoring, patch and update management, administrative services, and license management, incident and problem resolution.

Enterprise Video Teleconferencing (Enterprise VTC)

Enterprise VTC is a fully managed Video Teleconferencing (VTC) service that is: interoperable with existing customer-owned endpoints (multi-vendor, multi-device), easy-to-use, scalable (multi-party), and secure. Enterprise VTC provides back office infrastructure that allows for visual and audio communication between compatible customer-owned devices.

The full description of the Enterprise Video Teleconferencing service is listed within the Enterprise Services of this catalog. This service can be purchased separately, or combined with the UC-Voice. For more information on this service, see Enterprise Video Teleconferencing.

What is Included

Core UC-Voice Provides

  • IP Telephony facilitates the delivery of traditional telephony communications and services over an IP network that are configured to meet customer requirements.
  • Messaging provides voicemail services for each configured user or business group, including the ability to access/manage voicemail remotely anywhere and anytime and the option of having voicemail delivered via email.
  • Web Management provides the end user the ability to remotely manage specific aspects of the assigned phone devices including: call forwarding, personal address books, and personal speed dials.
  • Jabber is a desktop soft-phone and video teleconferencing application that allows and extends an end users ability to work from almost anywhere.
  • Hunt Groups
  • Support for mobile and remote workers
  • Standard Move, Add, Change and Delete (MACD) support
  • USDA Corporate Directory and site access
  • PSTN access for local and long distance service
  • Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Capacity Monitoring
  • Centralized call data records
  • High availability
  • Standard voicemail box with 14 MB storage
  • Voicemail to email integration
  • Soft phone and VTC client
  • End-user web management of phone devices.
  • Live audio paging between IP phones within an office

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Service Options

Unified Communications Voice (UC-Voice)

Above Core UC-Voice service options that are available for additional purchase are:

  • Paging is an advanced notification service providing the customer the capability to broadcast brief communications to all office phones with the touch of a button.
  • Contact Center provides a comprehensive customizable solution that combines automatic call distribution functionality with IP telephony. A high availability routing engine enables calls to queue and intelligently route within a distributed contact center based on customer specified business logic. Resource management and supervisor access to customer interaction is provided through customizable reports and dashboards.
    • Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
    • Automatic call distribution
    • Agent level skill based routing
    • Supervisory features
    • External system integration
    • Customer quality assurance
    • Call recording and monitoring
    • Real-time and historical data reporting
    • Broadcast messaging
    • Agent desktop capabilities
  • Contact Center Quality Monitoring is a customizable solution that provides contact center capture services based on customer established business rules to assist Contact Center management with evaluating quality of services provided by Contact Center agents.

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How We Charge


Customized assessment, planning, and implementation are required steps toward building a standardized operating environment. It is thus that custom charges are applicable. UC-Voice services may require additional one-time up-front start-up costs based on agency business requirements where custom configurations may be required. The one-time start-up costs can include:

  • Unified Communications and/ or Contact Center discovery services
  • Unified Communications and/ or Contact Center implementation services
  • Purchase of additional Unified Communications or Contact Center licensing
  • Purchase of additional hardware to support Unified Communications services
  • Purchase of hardware and licenses to support paging

Once standardized, the monthly cost for service is based on customer business needs relating to the actual number of phone devices, licensing and/or contact center seats required by the agency.

Paging, Contact Center, and Contact Center Quality Monitoring are charged based on the environment.

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Service Level Metrics


Unified Communications as a Service - Voice (Base and Above Base) Performance Measures

Performance Performance Measure Performance Target
System Monitoring and Availability 24 x 7
excluding planned downtime *

Measurement Tool - System Center Operations Manager-SCOM

*CTS reserves the option to schedule routine infrastructure maintenance activities on Sundays between 0800 to 1200 or 1800 to 2400 hours Central Time.

* NOTE: CTS utilizes the USDA Universal Telecommunication Network (UTN) for Wide Area Network services. The UTN is contractually guaranteed to be 99.9% available but has historically delivered 99.997% availability.

Cost Saving Tips


  • Sharing of services across agencies to achieve maximum usage and efficiency.
  • Sharing of voice Lines to achieve maximum usage and efficiency.

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Additional Information

Utilize other OCIO service offerings to minimize application integration efforts and reduce costs through economies of scale.