Cheshire County Council is rolling out an £18m converged network as part of its 10-year strategy to reduce costs by £174m.
This year, the number of users on the network is set to grow to over 100,000 as the council links 600 schools, pupils and teachers. By 2008 John Barrett, head of strategic IT research and development at Cheshire, plans to complete the roll-out of IP telephony on the network.
Presenting at the CMA annual conference in London last week, Barrett said the council's goal for education services was to remove the need for head teachers to worry about telephony.
Instead of each school managing its own telephony, calls are all handled via Cheshire's converged network using an IP telephony system provided by Avaya.
Barrett said, “A typical secondary school with 1,000 pupils would see annual savings of 38% on telephone bills.”
Primary schools could see their phone bills cut by almost 50%, he added.
Along with the savings on phone bills, Barrett said the converged network will give schools new telephony services like voicemail and the ability to handle 40 concurrent calls.
For resilience, the network uses two suppliers, Thus and BT, each operating on their own network infrastructure, independent of each other.
Along with fibre optic cabling, Barrett is looking at installing a wireless network inside the lampposts owned by the council. The network will initially be deployed in Chester, where laying cabling under the roads would not be feasible, due to its historical significance.
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