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Comms network for Queensland Cotton

Voice&Data Staff

Queensland Cotton, Australia's largest globally diversified cotton group and one of the world's largest non-government cotton companies, has installed a Nortel network to increase the capacity and resilience of its Brisbane head office communications platform.

The new network replaces an end-of-life network from Cisco and lays the foundation for the adoption of next-generation IP communication solutions such as voice and video.

"Given our international operations we have the advantage of being able to deliver stock year round to our international milling customers, but that also poses the challenge of maintaining a rock-solid communications network with minimal down time," says Peter Craig, IT operations manager, Queensland Cotton.

"Cotton prices are determined by global forces, with a hedging market based in New York through the New York Futures Exchange - so we have to constantly monitor prices in different time zones and react accordingly, which puts extra pressure on our network. As such, we require the very best network equipment from proven global companies like Nortel to keep us in business."

As a key link between the producers of raw cotton and the end users of the fibre, Queensland Cotton provides its grower customers with fully integrated services. These services include cotton ginning, classing and marketing, sale of crop inputs, precision agriculture tools, crop finance and raw cotton handling and transport.

The company also

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maintains a secure e-commerce website which customers can use to access statistics and information to improve their own business reporting practices and processes, so its requirements for 24/7 availability and cross-country communications are high.

"We chose a simple, cost-effective and highly resilient architecture to match our global nature and seasonal challenges," says Craig. "The solution is flexible enough so that in lean times -- like the current drought -- it doesn't bite into profit margins and is easily scalable to handle the heavier demands of boom cycles."

The new network is made up of multiple switches that increase network reliability and deliver scalable growth in available network bandwidth. The gigabit power over ethernet (PoE) network uses Nortel's Ethernet Routing Switch 5520 connected to the core server network, which distributes data connectivity to all head office staff.

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