SIP trunking helps Broward County save money and improve efficiency

  • AT&T currently is migrating Broward County Public Schools to a fully converged voice and data network that will support up to 1,000 concurrent calls.

  • Moving its previous SIP trunking solution to the AT&T IP Flex solution has cut the district’s telecom costs by 39 percent.

  • When the project is complete, BCPS officials expect to pay about a third of what they used to for monthly phone service.

Florida’s Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) has three main goals as part of its strategic technology plan: deliver high-quality instruction, improve business efficiency, and support effective communication.

When the district converted the 13 Primary Rate Interface (PRI) lines that it used for conferencing services to SIP trunking, it accomplished two of these goals—improved efficiency and effective communication. Now, BCPS is looking to expand on these benefits by moving to a fully converged voice and data network during the 2015-16 school year.

“Just as business is looking to IT to squeeze out every last bit of efficiency, that’s something that is happening in education as well,” said Doug Pearce, director of technical support services for BCPS.

With 225,000 students and 238 schools, BCPS is the sixth largest school system in the nation. In looking to improve efficiency, district officials realized they could achieve considerable monthly savings on their conferencing services by migrating the transport from PRIs to a SIP trunking solution.

While cost was the primary driver, setting up the district for future success also was a factor. “Part of our decision making was looking at market forces,” Pearce said, noting that the telecommunications landscape is changing rapidly. “We knew we needed to move to voice over IP for sustainability for the long haul.”

BCPS initially chose another provider to convert its 13 PRIs to an SIP trunking solution that supported 300 concurrent calls. But when the district was looking to expand its use of SIP trunking from a small-scale project to an enterprise-wide solution with as many as 1,000 concurrent call paths, it put out a request for proposals.

In selecting the winner, the district evaluated:

  • Cost
  • Reputation of the provider and its solution
  • The provider’s ability to support the district and respond to potential problems
  • The quality of the provider’s service level agreements (SLAs)
  • The provider’s ability to execute a large-scale project successfully

Phase 1 of the project was to convert the earlier SIP trunking rollout to AT&T’s IP Flex solution.

This initial phase went “very well,” Pearce said, noting there was close communication between AT&T and the district’s telecommunications team. “We were really happy.”

What’s more, BCPS has seen “significant savings” from this move, Pearce said. The district is now paying 39 percent less than it was paying to support the same number of concurrent call paths.

In Phase 2, the district plans to expand its use of IP Flex to support 900 concurrent calls, and it continues to build out its IT infrastructure to support this move. While BCPS will maintain some Centrex lines for backup and disaster recovery purposes, the district expects to pay only a third of what it used to for monthly phone service when the rollout is complete.

If school districts haven’t begun transitioning to VoIP yet, “it’s time to begin the self-education process,” Pearce said. “The world of PRIs is in the latter stages of its lifespan.”

He concluded: “I think a lot of people haven’t made the move to VoIP because of concerns about reliability. But those concerns have been mitigated. You realize the engineering work has been done to keep networks fault tolerant—and schools safe.”

For more information on migrating to VoIP service, download the free white paper “Achieve more for less: How K-12 can benefit from VoIP after e-rate modernization.” And read more about the AT&T IP Flexible Reach solution.

Dennis has spent the last 18 years writing about education and technology. In 2014, he left eSchool Media to form Pierce Publishing, a freelance writing, editing, and content marketing consulting firm. All opinions are those of Dennis Pierce.  

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