Pennine earn award

A pioneering project which transformed communications at a Bolton secondary school has again proven itself top of the class by winning a second business award for Pennine Telecom.

Global business communications giant Avaya presented the data and telecommunications specialist with its Most Notable Customer Win UC award in recognition of the company’s ground-breaking use of unified communications technology at ESSA Academy.

At an industry conference attended by 150 telecommunication professionals Mike Pook, sales director at Avaya UK Financial Services, presented the trophy to Ian Taylor, education specialist at Pennine who was involved in the ground-breaking project.

It is the second time this year that Pennine’s work at the school on Lever Edge Lane has been recognised as in June the company collected the SMB Convergence Solution title at the Comms Business Awards.

The solution devised by Pennine is credited with revolutionising communications at the forward-thinking school. It enabled ESSA to remove all of its 100 deskphones by transforming tablet computers and mobile devices into ‘softphones.’ This in turn facilitated a major cultural change, as 1,500 Apple mobile devices were harnessed to enhance communication between staff, students and parents. These included over 800 iPod touches issued by the school for students to use as learning support tools.

Commenting on the latest awards success Ian Taylor enthused: “This project really was a ground-breaker and one made possible not just by our specialist expertise but the vision ESSA had. This is a school that understood before anyone else that the latest generation of unified communications technologies could be exploited as tools to enhance dialogue and learning.”

ESSA director and technology champion Abdul Chohan has praised Pennine’s work, saying: “The beauty of it – and when we say this people are in awe – is that staff can be contacted by a parent directly on their iPad. They can answer or make a call, even using wi-fi routed from home, and it will be the academy’s number that comes up. It’s much more professional. It also means that we have some phenomenally productive conversations happening. Teachers can ring each other at no cost throughout the day.”

The solution devised by Pennine incorporated an Avaya Aura Communications Manager unified communications platform together with one-X Communicator software clients for MacBooks and one-X Mobile SIP iOS licences which deliver voice over wi-fi to Apple mobile devices. These were complemented by Avaya Flare, a cutting-edge collaboration tool which unifies voice, video, e-mail, instant messaging and social networking.

Pennine has forged an enviable reputation for its work in the education sector. It’s creation of the first home broadband network to serve an English school, Bury’s Broad Oak Sports College has been similarly praised. That high profile project won the company the Design & Technology Award at the Bury & Bolton Business awards and places in the finals of the Blue Chip, Comms National and Federation of Communication Service Industry’s awards.

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