Bathurst Regional Council speeds ahead with VoIP

Bathurst Regional Council speeds ahead with VoIP

Having implemented a fast digital-analogue IP network, Bathurst Regional Council decided VoIP would cut costs, improve collaboration and let the local government authority use existing infrastructure.

With 15 sites running across LANs and WANs, Peter Fawkes, manager of information services at the city about two hours west of Sydney, implemented VoIP to leverage the 18-year-old existing PABX network.

Fawkes said the previous Permitted Attachment Private Line (PAPL) phone system was difficult to manage as the entire system was administered from a single dedicated 'super' handset with a tiny, four-line LCD text display.

"Every time someone moved desk, we needed to make physical changes to cabling," Fawkes said. "The VoIP network has allowed the council to reduce telephone costs, while simplifying the running of the system."

While Fawkes agreed adopting VoIP could reduce international call costs, he said it would be used primarily between sites.

"The [VoIP] system will be used through the existing [IP] network mainly between our facilities as we can assign extensions to each site," he said.

The council spent $250,000 connecting its library, main civic centre and pit complexes at the Mount Panorama racing circuit with Mitel 3300 ICP systems, while the upgrade of remaining facilities is expected to take two years, depending on budget.

Fawkes said network downtime was critical as the council services "about 37,000 residents [with] hundreds of daily requests [which] is why reliability is critical".

The Web-based network installed in April this year previously relied on Fawkes to administer the patchwork system, which can now be managed by IT staff from any computer.

"The new telephony network allows other IT staff to administer the system which makes user support far less complicated," he said. "Administration is entirely Web-based while using automatic reporting tools."

While the network integrated with existing infrastructure, there was a challenge 'to some degree' for staff to familiarize themselves with the technology, he said.

"We ran a half-hour course for new users, while IT technicians received training through the installation process," he said.

Ethan Group designed and implemented the VoIP network, handled migration and will provide ongoing support.

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