In the spring of 2010 Wycombe Abbey School began working with Talking Business to find an appropriate solution to their future telephony requirements.

Wycombe Abbey is a leading Independent school for girls aged 11-18, who consistently achieve results within the Top 3 schools in the country for A-level results.

The schools grounds are home to a large campus set-up consisting of 11 individual buildings ranging from offices and classrooms to boarding houses. Distributed cross this campus are over individual 350 telephones.

At the outset of the project the Abbey’s current traditional telephone cabling infrastructure for the site’s telephony was coming under increasing pressure due to on-going expansion and had, in effect, reached full capacity.

The bulk of the Telephones in the Campus were Analogue phones running off traditional legacy voice-cabling laid several years ago around the network of buildings. In addition, several main school areas on site also utilised a more feature Digital telephony using the same infrastructure.

Therefore increasing current telephony capacity using traditional telephony (analogue and/ or digital) would have involved an expensive investment in laying additional cable around the campus.

Fortuitously, the Abbey had recent invested in placing a new Fibre infrastructure across the campus to service their data requirements. Therefore, the opportunity existed to leverage this existing investment by deploying a new Telephony solution using Voice over IP, allowing for a more cost effective and flexible deployment of handsets in the future.

However, the 300 analogue extension in boarding houses part of the campus would have proved to be problematic to replace using VOIP over the new fibre infrastructure, involving a costly replacement with generic SIP handsets and PoE LAN switching. If any new solution could just keep the existing analogue handset running over the legacy voice cabling this would mean a far lower cost of replacement and minimal disruption caused during the upgrade process. This factor would play a significant part in which solution Talking Business would ultimately put forward.

Project Requirements

  1. After an initial consultation the following project requirements / priorities were established for a new telephony solution.
  2. Any New telephone solution must be able to use IP telephony to utilise the new Fibre links between buildings thereby eliminating the cost of any additional inter-building cable runs.
  3. The Solution must provide a strong set of telephony features and offer a choice of endpoints to cater for all users (Featured handset, basic handset and software based endpoints).
  4. It would be beneficial if the existing analogue handsets located around the campus could be re-used.
  5. A substantial cost saving would also be realised if existing voice-cabling within the individual campus, where applicable (for analogue endpoints) could be re-used.
  6. Having the option to interoperate with the existing Nortel Meridian Option 11 Telephone System would be of considerable benefit as it would minimise the initial investment cost by retaining the existing featured digital handsets, and thereby provide a more gradual migration option to a new platform, minimising disruption and spreading cost.
  7. Currently approximately 50 Individual direct analogue lines are in use across the campus with substantial annual operating cost. Consolidation of these numbers onto SIP numbers delivered via Sip trunks over the internet to a SIP enabled Telephone system would eliminate these on-going costs, thereby funding any proposed investment.
  8. Administrative ‘Adds, Moves and Changes’ of extensions and system settings must be easily facilitated by internal ICT personnel.
  9. Call Management reporting; currently there is no facility to report on day-to-day telephone usage. The ability to run reports on calls made by individual extensions, with a view to introducing a greater level of accountability would be a beneficial addition to the solution.

Recommendations

Based on the scope of the above requirements, Talking Business recommended a solution based upon the SpliceCom Maximiser 5100 Call Server, as it deliver the following key features:

  1. Distributed Architecture for all endpoints – including analogue handsets Analogue modules can be located remotely from the main control unit, i.e. in each campus building where required thereby eliminating and significant re-cabling costs.
  2. Can use any Analogue Handsets and voice cabling – Will allow re-sue of existing analogue handsets and voice-cabling infrastructure. New cable runs in each building will only be needed where additional extension capacity is required and no spare cables exist.
  3. Interoperability with Nortel Option 11– The Maximiser System links via an integrated DPNSS connection on each 5100 Call server. This DPNSS connection enabled interoperability with the Nortel Option 11 providing extension-to-extension dialling across systems.
  4. Simple System Architecture – The Maximiser Solution operates on a single central shared database providing a single point of administration for all call servers on the Wide area Network
  5. Industry leading IP Handsets – the PCS560 & PCS570 IP handsets offer cutting edge and highly intuitive full colour display IP Handsets to enable easy access to a greater number features via the desktop handset. Perfect for use by office staff.
  6. Splicecom Vision Call Management has an unparalleled level of reporting for the Maximiser system enabling an increased level of detailed reporting.

Implementation

The Main solution was successfully implemented in stages over the course of the summer of 2010. The First step was the integration and testing with the Meridian Option 11, swiftly followed by the switch over of the 300 Analogue extensions, which was completed in a single day and had minimal disruption.

The final stage of the of this ‘phase one’ deployment  was to deploy the new Splicecom IP handsets in a single department to ensure familiarity and test them thoroughly with the campus IT network  before rolling them out elsewhere. The obvious choice for this was the IT department.

This initial IP Handset deployment  was so successful that between the September and that Xmas, all the Digital Meridian handsets were replaced department by department, thus enabling a much more focused post deployment Training and trouble-shooting, resulting in few end-user concerns.