How this school cut its bills by a third

Schools that are making do with scarce resources and tight budgets know what it’s like to deal with recurring problems, whether they’re administrative lags, poor infrastructure or staffing shortages.
As such, finding solutions which significantly reduce costs and resolve these headaches can make all the difference when it comes to getting the functions of the school to run like clockwork.
St Francis Xavier College – a Catholic secondary school located in Florey, ACT – was frequently suffering from telephone outages due to major lightning storms, old carrier faults and an aging traditional system.
Consequently, the old copper phone wires were becoming damaged and meant staff were often not receiving incoming and outgoing calls. It urgently required a new modern fibre IP telephone solution to replace the 10-year-old legacy system.
The 10 hectare campus has now implemented the unified Panasonic telephone system across its six campus buildings, increasing staff mobility and cutting more than a third of its phone bills.
“The bill used to be about $1,100 per month. Our total bill from Sedcom is now less than a third of that. We also got the extra phone lines, which eases the congestion significantly,” Geoffrey Smith, the school’s network manager, told The Educator.
“We opted for an on-premise solution as opposed to a cloud-based hosted one because we wanted a system that was physically on-site so that we can maintain and update as and when we want, with the support of Sedcom and its Business Phone Centre.”
Smith added that principals should ensure their school’s cabling infrastructure is working properly and has good quality Power Over Ethernet (POE) switches before embarking upon any upgrades.
“Without that set up properly, the rest is just a waste of time,” he said.
Smith pointed out that the new phone system also allows the school’s staff to use their smartphones as handsets, which gives them the option of having a soft phone on their mobile should they choose to.
“This way, staff are able to use a direct dial-in number that can divert to an app on their mobile phone. In the case that the app isn’t open on their mobile phone, the call then diverts to a voicemail which is sent to their email inbox, he said.
Graham Gibbs, national manager of unified communications at Panasonic, told The Educator that these features are in line with Panasonic’s overall goal to provide a unified communications system that enhances productivity.
“For example, this means staff can now answer calls on their mobile via the campus Wi-Fi. Using the same app, they can also make calls, which means they’re not paying mobile or data rates, because they’re just using the school’s Wi-Fi,” he said.
“We’re talking a cost saving of around 20-50%, so it’s a significant saving when you consider that resources are scarce in many schools.”
Gibbs added that schools like St Francis Xavier College are facing increasing pressure to manage complex telephone systems under strain from the growing trend of BYOD.
“The on-premise solution gives schools the ability to control things in-house very quickly. For example if they need to add new staff, they can do that very quickly, and cheaply, via the app,” he explained.
“And the fact that it’s running through the school’s Wi-Fi means they can do this without incurring any carriage costs.”