Skip to main content

You are here

PremierWest Bank Case Study

Facebook Google plus Linkedin Twitter
Case Studies

PremierWest Bank puts its money on Mitel VoIP to improve customer service and eliminates reliance on costly systems integrators

PremierWest Bank

Cisco VoIP was the wrong choice

PremierWest Bank initially signed on with Cisco for VoIP, but it endured a year plagued by poor voice quality, increased costs, and rampant technical problems.

Seeking best VoIP quality for the money

When asked, Cameron Frasnelly, network manager at PremierWest Bank, recites a laundry list of problems with Cisco’s VoIP phone system, based on AVVID. “Complexity was the number one nightmare – on top of the high cost and a poor use of our WAN resources,” Frasnelly says.

Cisco’s AVVID was close to double the anticipated cost, and the phone system wasn’t manageable. “Even from the get-go we had problems,” explains Frasnelly. Cisco shipped the wrong equipment for the initial installation. Least-cost routing was so complex that it took a week to set up. Once up and running, more problems loomed. PremierWest’s IT managers, systems integrators, and even Cisco technicians couldn’t resolve the problems.

“Quality was terrible. Echo was a constant problem,” Frasnelly says. Now picture the PremierWest CEO and CFO calling in from cell phones to pick up their voicemail, and Frasnelly’s problems become very clear.

Mitel’s quality and value seal the deal

Mitel provided Quinary with a whole unified communication (UC) solution, including the IP PABX, the phones, and several agent, supervisor, and operator licenses. They also included advanced features such as web chat, a very attractive application that Quinary integrated for end users’ smartphones.

The customer was very satisfied with the solution, thanks to the quality-price ratio and excellent service delivery. Mitel partner Impianti and Mitel Professional Services, which also handled end-user training, supported the deployment.

With a centralized architecture, Cisco CallManager handles every call, incoming or outbound. “When CallManager locked, we would have to reboot and hope for the best,” says Frasnelly. Customer service, loan officers, financial advisors, and branch managers – everyone was impacted.

Nor did Cisco use WAN bandwidth efficiently. Music-on-hold and voicemail were streamed across PremierWest’s entire multi-state WAN. “Our pipes are valuable. It doesn’t make sense to have them soaked with music-on-hold and voicemail,” Frasnelly says.

AVVID’s reporting was arcane and required importing into complex spreadsheets to determine simple facts like what times calls took place. When the IT team performed routine vulnerability scans against CallManager, it would die. Disaster recovery capabilities were weak.

Two hours after opening the Mitel box, the bank was making calls

After a yearlong effort to resolve the insidious problems, PremierWest Bank decided to reevaluate its phone system. The bank compared Mitel, 3Com, and Mitel VoIP systems, examining the systems’ price and functionality to determine the best value. Not willing to be burned again, says Frasnelly, “We went through the evaluation process for several months, comparing and comparing.”

Then came the hands-on tests, but without the vendors’ hands-on techs. PremierWest invited the top contenders, Mitel and Mitel, to send evaluation units but asked them not to send technicians. After the Cisco experience, a major requirement was the ability to manage the phone system without having to rely on vendors or systems integrators.

Two hours after Frasnelly and his team opened up the Mitel box, they were placing local calls. A few hours later, least-cost routing was running over Mitel switches 80 miles apart. “We hadn’t done a lick of telco training and we were up and running,” says Frasnelly.

PremierWest also went hands-on with Mitel, but it had concerns about the impact of system complexity on reliability and available rack space in the branches’ server rooms. Mitel had a multibox solution that would require the PremierWest IT team to reconfigure the server racks at several branches. Plus the Mitel technician (who came with the box despite the forewarnings otherwise) had difficulty getting dial-tone without calling tech support.


Cameron Frasnelly, Network Manager
PremierWest Bank

Mitel: Simple and Cost-Effective

As disappointed as Frasnelly was about Cisco’s undelivered promises, he’s thoroughly pleased with Mitel’s results. Least-cost routing will conservatively save PremierWest Bank $2,000 per month when fully deployed. It will save $1,000 a month alone by publishing a single number for voice and fax for all branches, and then using fax redirection to redirect the fax, so they can disconnect existing lines that are dedicated to fax machines.

Voice quality is excellent. Bank employees find Mitel Communicator intuitive and easy to use. “It really makes a difference to not have to remember a phone number. It’s really handy,” says Frasnelly.

Mitel’s distributed architecture delivers a highly reliable, easily managed phone system. Almost all call control intelligence is distributed to the Mitel Voice Switches, so no single point of failure exists and high system availability is ensured.

The Mitel architecture distributes voice applications, such as voicemail and automated attendant, to the servers at the locations, rather than centralizing applications at the network core.

If a bank employee is not present on the network when a call comes in, the Mitel IP PBX can search for him in other offices. As the call is sentto the employee’s remote phone, he receives Caller ID information, so he can decide whether to accept the call or send it to voicemail. If the employee is not reachable, the caller is sent to the person’s corporate voicemail, not to his or her cell phone or other voicemail box. Later, when bank employees return missed calls, they can return the call or send a voicemail with just the touch of a few buttons.

Mitel simplicity pays dividends

“The simplicity of Mitel systems management is drastic,” says Frasnelly. The PremierWest IT team can configure phones from any computer with a browser, even if the phone is in Northern California and the Mitel server is in Oregon.

With such intuitive management, Frasnelly has seen a decrease by one service call per week at the branches. Adds, moves, and changes take five minutes. “We were constantly being dinged by our oddball phone systems. It would take a long time to change an extension or a voicemail password. Mitel is really easy,” Frasnelly concludes.

With Mitel Director, IT managers gain a single web-based manager for all voice applications across all sites. It enables IT managers to use a graphical interface to monitor all functions of Mitel systems and to gain a single system view from anywhere. No longer do you have to individually manage PBXs in different locations.



PremierWest Bank is a fastgrowing community bank in Oregon and Northern California. The institution has a year-old Cisco VoIP system that was plagued by quality and operational problems.


Mitel provided Mitel IP PBXs to all 40 branches, serving more than 300 employees.


  • ROI in 2.4 years
  • Significant annual cost savings
  • Ability to remotely manage the entire system
  • MACs can be made in minutes

Type a keyword into the box above, then press Enter.