ITEXPO begins in:   New Coverage :  Asterisk  |  Fax Software  |  SIP Phones  |  Small Cells

School System Gives VoIP Straight A’s


Mitel (news -alerts) has come up with an equation that will allow school districts to subtract dollars from their communications costs while adding to students’ grades through a heavier flow of information between staff, parents, and students.

Tift County Schools, the board of education that serves Tifton, GA, has approximately 7,500 students that attend the its 12 schools.

When Technology Services Director Harris Tucker was charged with bringing a upgrading a failing 1988 phone system, Tucker approached Mitel, hoping to hear something other than, “Sorry, but you’re out of luck.”

The existing system consisted of 14 disparate key systems, at a monthly cost of $3,848 for the 179 phone lines — the high school’s service alone cost $900 monthly. What’s more, the service was split between two long distance carriers.

In addition to cost, which clearly was a driving motivation, the functionality of the aging system left much to be desired. Transferring calls between schools was not possible with the system. An attendant was required to answer calls from both the public as well as internal staff, including other schools and the Board of Ed. There was no voicemail. There was no outgoing message capability to allow for relaying information to the public regarding hours, closings, and other various announcements.

At first glance, this might have seemed like a difficult test to pass, but to Tucker’s delight, Mitel came back with a positive response.

To Mitel, the answer was clear: The Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP) with embedded standard unified messaging, auto-attendant, automatic call distribution (ACD) and wireless, along with more than 200 IP phones located across the district with convenient four-digit dialing would result in considerable cost savings for the school system. The 3300 ICP is a sound investment for the future, as well, since it is scalable up to 60,000 users.

“The board entered into a Local Service Agreement with a local carrier to provide our local service for both the VoIP PRI’s and any analog fax lines we had left in place,” said Tucker. “We now have a monthly BellSouth Local Service bill for our two Centrex PRI’s for VoIP and the 39 analog Centrex fax lines of $2,600 per month. That’s $2,100 per month in savings, or $25,200 per year. Since all of these charges are E-rate eligible, beginning in July 2006 we can apply Tift County’s 80 percent discount to the telecommunication charges. The results will be a $520 per month Local Service or $6,240 per year. Altogether, that’s $4,180 per month, or $50,160 per year savings.”

The cost savings, which can be labeled as significant, at the very least, will allow Tift County to recover its initial investment in less than three years, and ongoing annual savings can be used in places it is most needed — to continue to improve the students’ learning environment.

The result will allow Tift County to recoup its investment in only two-and-a-half years, while the ongoing per year savings can go to where its needed most: the education of the students.

Replacing old telephony lines with modern IP solutions can do more than save money for school systems. IP solutions put cutting edge technology in the hands of the students, teachers, and parents, enabling an enhanced learning environment and increasing school safety. Enhancing school safety can be as simple as a phone in every classroom, so that response times during emergencies can be improved through school-wide, groups of schools or district-wide broadcast messaging by phone, e-mail, and paging.

School systems that have implemented a well thought out IP system have not only realized significant cost savings, but they have also achieved standards that distinguish them from neighboring communities. IT

Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY. Most recently, he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at or contact a representative via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.

Today @ TMC
Upcoming Events
ITEXPO West 2012
October 2- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
The World's Premier Managed Services and Cloud Computing Event
Click for Dates and Locations
Mobility Tech Conference & Expo
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas
Cloud Communications Summit
October 3- 5, 2012
The Austin Convention Center
Austin, Texas