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Bideford College

swcomms provides Bideford College with a local area network (LAN) backbone upon which its wireless, ICT-rich environment thrives.


Bideford College is a specialist science college in Devon. It employs 200 members of staff and serves 1,630 pupils, aged 11 to 18. The College was undergoing a £44 million rebuild to provide a new teaching and learning environment. This rebuild involved the demolition of the College’s existing comms room and the provision of a new one elsewhere on the site. A new voice and data infrastructure was required, as well as a replacement telephone system and ongoing support.


Following a formal tender process, swcomms was awarded the contract to design, supply and install a bespoke, single vendor solution to provide a fully converged wired and wireless voice and data solution in time for the start of the new academic year. The College needed a resilient LAN with no single point of failure for voice, data, video, CCTV and digital signage use. swcomms designed a multi-media network utilising Alcatel-Lucent technology to support all of the latest tools required for interactive, modern-day teaching and learning.


This LAN was pre-staged at swcomms’ headquarters. It comprised of a fully resilient 40Gbps Alcatel-Lucent chassis based core with triple power supply units and dual command modules with multiple 10Gbps fibre linked to aggregation and distribution switches. These were linked via multiple 2Gbps fibres to edge switches to support nearly 2,000 devices across the campus provided over the College’s Cat6 cabling infrastructure. It included power over Ethernet (PoE) to all ports and provided the quality of service functionality required for the VoIP telephony solution. The network was then split into two separate virtual LANs (vLANs) to meet the staff and students’ differing needs.


Alcatel-Lucent’s OmniAccess wireless LAN
Wireless LAN connectivity provides mobility for both voice and data use right across the College site. swcomms installed Alcatel-Lucent’s OmniAccess solution providing 120 indoor and outdoor access points around the College to provide maximum site coverage with all buildings and grounds covered so that staff and pupils can use their smartphones, laptops and tablets wherever they need to. The wireless LAN is highly secure utilising individual user authentication and provides a secure access portal for the College’s guest users.


An Alcatel-Lucent OpenTouch Business Edition (OTBE) telephony solution was installed providing the College with an application-enabled communications system on a single, industry-standard server. By utilising virtualisation technology, this innovative, single-server design reduces Bideford’s ongoing IT costs and workload in provisioning, testing and managing servers as it removes the need to install additional servers every time a new communications application is deployed. This VoIP system will be used by 180 users but the OTBE is capable of supporting up to 1,500 users using up to 3,000 devices. The College wanted to use a mix of handsets and needed voicemail for every member of staff.


The OmniVista 8770 Management Platform gives the College the facility to administer its entire communications solution taking advantage of value added services such as controlling the College’s communications costs, editing detailed bespoke reports, managing the corporate directory or using call barring to prevent unwanted use during particular times, such as during holidays and out of hours. The wireless access points provide a voice over wireless LAN (VoWLAN) which enables senior staff to roam through the entire site using the AlcatelLucent IP Touch wireless handsets.


Unified communications has given the College’s teaching staff the ability to use softphones from their laptops within the classroom environment, in the staffroom, and off site using virtual private network (VPN) access. These softphones are also integrated with each user’s Microsoft Outlook email client to offer voicemail-to-email notification, collaboration, audio conferencing and click-to-dial functionality. An automated attendant is viewed greets the College’s callers with the option to dial the extension they require or to leave a message during peak times when reception staff are busy. It also includes a dedicated voicemail box for the reporting of student and staff absence.


swcomms relocated the ISDN30 lines from the existing buildings to retain the College’s main telephone number and staff direct dial-ins. We installed dedicated analogue lines to each of the emergency telephones in its four lifts to meet health & safety regulations and to keep these phones separate from the telephone system. A digital extension was installed to support the dedicated emergency phone and the existing payphone was relocated to the new reception area.


Enhanced resilience
Resilience was enhanced with dual processor LAN and telephony solutions together with digital reception consoles and an emergency phone, which are connected to the telephony platform so are not reliant upon the LAN infrastructure. This provides the College with full disaster recovery options in case of a loss of service of the LAN and Wi-Fi network. Green agenda tests have revealed that when compared to the competition, the Alcatel-Lucent LAN infrastructure uses the lowest power consumption when idle and remains environmentallyefficient when fully loaded. This not only saves the College expenditure in terms of its electricity bills but also dramatically reduces its carbon footprint. Both of these elements are further enhanced by the power-saving options afforded by using single server virtualisation and power-efficient handsets as part of the telephony solution.


PRINCE2 project management was crucial for this deployment to ensure the mandatory deadline was met and to ensure minimum disruption to staff and students alike. swcomms’ project management team remained in regular contact with the College’s project manager to keep him informed at every step of the installation process and was therefore able to react to any detailed needs. We also provided end user handset training at the College and detailed administrator training at our training suite in Exeter to ensure the adoption of the new system was effective. Ongoing support and maintenance is provided with a Bronze service level agreement which provides the College weekday on-site support 8am to 6pm.


Mike Newby MBE, Bideford College’s project coordinator, said: “Having looked in depth at the range of technologies available to meet with Bideford College’s aspirations for site-wide access and connectivity, it was identified that not only did swcomms provide a system that met with the intent but that, as a company, they showed the ability to listen to the customer’s requirements. They ably demonstrated that the systems could achieve sufficient resilience and capacity to allow all projected use, and more, within budgetary constraints. The knowledge and customer awareness of the onsite installation and technical team, along with the offsite project management team, have been a creditable asset to the way in which the systems have been bedded in at the College.”


Download case study here