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NHS gets cheaper calls with VoIP upgrade

Antony Savvas

The NHS N3 broadband network is now offering NHS organisations reduced call charges after being made voice over IP capable by BT.

NHS organisations can make substantial savings on communications by converging their voice and data over a single network, said BT.

Up until now, N3 has largely been used for speeding up the transmission of clinical data within the NHS.

Voice-enabling the N3 network means that two new services are now available to the NHS.

The first is the N3 Local Gateway Service. This allows NHS organisations to connect their voice networks to

N3 and, after an initial set-up fee and ongoing rental charge, get free calls to other users of the new voice service.

As part of this service, nationally negotiated rates for fixed to mobile calls will lead to substantial savings for NHS organisations, said BT, as a result of a partnership with mobile network operator O2.

BT says currently 70% of the NHS' call charges from landlines are spent on calling mobiles.

The second service, N3 Hosted Voice, will initially be targeted at small- to medium-sized users such as GP surgeries.

BT will effectively host the users' IP telephony, managing the entire infrastructure and the billing process. BT has partnered with Cisco to provide hosted Cisco Unified IP Phones.

Patrick O'Connell, managing director at BT Health, said N3 had hit 18,000 connections by this January.

NHS Connecting for Health, the body behind the NHS National Programme for IT, has funded the voice upgrade of the network. However, there are additional set up and rental fees which will vary depending on the local NHS organisations' existing infrastructure.

And these costs have to be met locally.

BT uses Blue Coat to accelerate NHS broadband >>

Berkshire NHS trust rolls out mobile apps to staff >>

BT wins five NHS contracts to develop community of interest >>


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