Leicester College unifies comms

Leicester College, one of the ten largest in the UK, is taking on new communications kit to take advantage of converged network technologies central to its e-strategy.

The college is renewing its network infrastructure to support converged voice and data internet protocol (IP) functionality across three campuses. That includes Wi-Fi, voice over IP (VoIP) and fixed-mobile convergence (FMC).

It will use the OpenScape Unified Communications Server (OUCS) from Siemens Enterprise Communications to improve network resources for students and staff, while laying the foundation for a cost-efficient unified communications infrastructure. The project also includes delivery of Siemens HiPath 8000 system, HiPath Xpressions voice messaging, HiPath Wireless and HiPath Mobile Connect for the FMC component, as well as HP ProCurve Ethernet switching equipment.

The new technology requirement stemmed from the refurbishment of the college's Freeman's Park and St. Margaret's campuses and the construction of Abbey Park, a 20 million, five-story building on a new site, which created the opportunity to implement a VoIP network and associated Wi-Fi functionality.

Paul Chapman, head of libraries and e-strategy at Leicester College said: "The decision to converge our voice and data networks was a simple one. It will allow us to deploy VoIP, which is essential to our e-Strategy over the next five years."

With a large proportion of part-time learners, Chapman explained: "We already have a 24-hour online library and an open source sharing and learning platform for those not able to attend the campus.

"With OUCS and HiPath 8000 voice being open and standards-based architecture, it is clear we can now look to integrate other open applications into our communications infrastructure. It's important to us to offer our part-time learners a fully rounded online campus experience to ensure they meet their potential," he added.

Chapman said a previous pilot scheme at Freeman's Park with a different vendor failed to meet requirements. "Many colleges jumped on the wireless bandwagon a few years ago and deployed first generation kit," he said. "We have seen how they are now having to replace a lot of the equipment and are glad we have taken a timely approach and been selective in our procurement."

The HiPath 8000 will be deployed across all sites, following an upgrade of existing network infrastructure and located at Abbey Park, which will also introduce wireless access in some selected areas of the site.

Staff roaming between the three sites will use the FMC capability to roam between with dual-band GSM/Wi-Fi phones, allowing them to automatically switch between their mobile operator's network and the college's VoIP network even during a call. This is anticipated to provide cost savings of between 15 and 40 per cent compared to current mobile bills.

And end users will initially benefit from hot-desking, staff voicemail and comprehensive wireless coverage at the Abbey Park campus, where 205 wireless access points are being deployed.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.