Midlothian Council Migrates To an IP Solution With Mitel

Mitel say they have beaten off Cisco and 3Com to provide Midlothian council with a VoIP network linking 100 sites and 4,000 staff, through distributor Nessco.

Midlothian Council in Scotland has installed four Mitel 3300 Integrated Communications Platforms (ICP) to enable the business to migrate from traditional telephony to IP. The council is migrating to Voice over IP at its own pace whilst still retaining the existing equipment and save costs. The seamless IP networking between the different council sites has improved the infrastructure management and was the biggest benefit for Midlothian Council.

In 1996, Scottish local government was reorganised and Midlothian District Council, responsible for services which included leisure, local planning and housing, merged with Lothian Regional Council with responsibility for education, transportation and social work to form a unitary authority that is Midlothian Council. This proved to be a trying time for Midlothian’s IT team which was faced with a number of ICT challenges, the phone system being one.

The Council has approximately 100 different sites, which vary in size and all had a combination of different phone systems making it very difficult to manage. In 1997 Doug Kinnaird, Head of IT at Midlothian Council, approached the telecommunications specialist Nessco who recommended they installed three Mitel SX-2000 PBXs to cover the different sites and to start implementing one phone system and displacing the others.

In 2003 Kinnaird and his team investigated IP and decided to implement an IP solution. The IT team’s proposal to the Corporate Management Team focused on four areas that would benefit the business and strengthen the case for IP, the areas included: to increase call volume capacity, to improve business flexibility, to reduce call costs and finally to address business continuity.
Doug Kinnaird, Head of IT, Midlothian Council, said: “After approval from the Corporate Management Team we invited Cisco, 3Com and Mitel (via Nessco) to tender because we had existing relationships with all of them; Cisco and 3Com provides our data network and Mitel provides the voice. It was a close call but in the end we decided upon Mitel due to the functionality of the IP system and we wanted to have one vendor and not two for our voice systems. Nessco have always provided excellent support and helped us develop our own capabilities. We have a very good relationship with them, they know our skill level and we know who to contact to get the answers.”

Today there are 700 users on the SX-2000 and approximately 400 using IP, with a steady stream of new installations being added to the IP system on a regular basis. Mitel Ops Manager is also installed which sits on the SX-2000 and the Mitel 3300 ICP and has proved very successful in simplifying administration of the systems.

“We have a lot of small systems in our sites and it was difficult to move staff from one site to another, now we have the IP solution it is much easier and saves the IT team time to focus on other areas. The IP solution has enabled us to put the voice traffic on the data network, and provided an increase in call volume capacity to meet future requirements. Using a triangulated data network in combination with the resiliency features available on the 3300, ICP has been a lot more cost effective than putting a traditional business continuity arrangement in place for voice alone. The Mitel IP solution has also helped reduce call costs by putting all internal calls across the IP infrastructure and making them free,” continued Kinnaird.

Midlothian Council is working on a phased approach to improve its ICT and armed with a next generation communications solution the plan is to expand teleworking capabilities in the next phase, to include exploring the Mitel Teleworking solution.

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