Warrington Collegiate: bringing lessons to life for everyone
“Virgin Media Business played a crucial role in helping our IT Services team to deliver a system fit for a 21st Century building. This was achieved through great partnership and excellent account and project management.”
Paul Hafren, Principal of Warrington Collegiate
To create a cutting-edge learning environment that provides better administrative support.
Virgin Media Business Digital Solution
A Unified Communications platform offering a scalable and flexible converged network capable of supporting new IP-based applications.
Enhanced learning for students and easy-to-use tools that offer more responsive and cost-effective network management.
Digital aims and operational goals
Warrington incorporates four separate colleges, for students from 14 years to mature adults. Their vision was to offer an improved learning experience for all and better support for administrative staff. Not to mention developing more efficient and cost-effective facilities management.
They wanted to do all this while opening up their network so that students – and staff – could continue learning while off campus. With a vision like this, it’s no wonder we were so excited when they chose us to help them make it a reality
Installing a converged network has had a dramatic effect. Connection speeds over the new network are more than 10 times faster than previously, bringing huge advantages. For example, it enables the use of video streaming for enhanced teaching and learning.
Plus, with the improved connectivity, staff and students can access files, on site or remotely, much faster than before. The result? Warrington Collegiate is now one of the most technologically advanced establishments around – with a reputation that enhances its educational standing.
But that’s not all. A new IP-based telephony system means it’s much easier to manage and make changes. Before, they had to pay an engineer to to switch over the phone numbers every time someone moved offices. Now, they can do it themselves within minutes.
IP Telephony is also helping to lower costs, as calls between internal departments and sites don’t cost a penny. It’s no wonder the Information and IT department came top of the class in a recent internal survey.
Our consultants were involved from the early planning stages of the project. This included using an ‘intelligent building’ approach to help ensure the communications infrastructure would meet both current and future requirements.
Then, we created a high-speed network that linked the new and existing campuses together on a single, converged platform. Using our Metro Ethernet VPN and Ethernet Extensions, we were able to raise network performance across the board.
This converged network gave the Collegiate the perfect foundation to start using advanced IP (Internet Protocol) based applications. The immediate benefits included enhanced teaching tools through the use of video streaming.
Since the upgrade, we have also helped them improve security with the installation of our IP CCTV. And should the Collegiate wish to introduce building management applications – such as temperature and emissions control solutions – the network will be able to manage that with ease too.
“We no longer have the bandwidth bottlenecks that we used to suffer from. Students have already noticed a huge difference. And as it’s all been designed to be future-proof, we won’t have to worry about our new network for a good few years – which is nice to know,” said Nick Smeltzer, Deputy Director of Information and IT at Warrington Collegiat
As the new campus buildings were erected over a 14-month period the migration to the new network was a phased operation. This meant it could also take place without disrupting day-to-day business, so that staff could continue to work and students could continue to learn. Due to the success of the first phase of the rollout, the Collegiate asked us to extend the new network into existing buildings too.
By providing both the Local and Wide Area Network (LAN and WAN), we were able to avoid design and performance risks typically associated with mixed technology networks. And the Collegiate also benefits from a strong, single supplier relationship.
In fact, the whole project went so well, the Collegiate is acting as a live reference site. Working together, we show other education institutions how they can use converged technologies to transform learning, while also making communication more efficient and cost-effective.