How Pennine went back to College to help achieve IT goals for FE institutions…


Since 2009 we have helped over 15 colleges achieve their IT goals. How? We have learnt that colleges operate like no other environment!

Bolton College had a vision in 2008, to have a full wifi campus, with students working throughout the campus, with thousands of devices – college provided laptops and student devices. Blackburn College also had the same vision. By working closely with the college IT departments, we deployed in both instances, some of the first ultra – high density wifi networks in the UK. Now in the college environment, wifi networks are being demanded on like never before!

The changing landscape of Wifi

Wifi is no longer the preserve of occasional laptop users, its every student, each with at least one device mobile. How do you maintain capacity and deliver reliable learning? Our highly skilled engineers have this summer (2014) been deploying 1.3Gbps single channel AC wifi with Meru. With the whole college wifi on a single radio channel, there is no interference from overlapping channels – so there is massive capacity for devices.

With the era of instant streaming video from social networks (ice bucket challenge anyone?), applications are sapping bandwidth from wifi like never before. Only Meru wifi with single channel can deliver true AC wifi – despite what competitors claim!

Switch to SIP to save

To save money EVERY college should be migrating from ISDN lines to SIP trunks. From our existing customers so far, each one has an average saving of 45% per year on the telephone bills. This equates to thousands of pounds of a yearly period. SIP trunks are pointed to an external IP address and can point to a secondary in the event of line failure – this gives a college disaster recovery failover.

With SIP trunks, capacity can also easily be added during enrolment time to cater for all the calls. We provide ISDN/SIP/ISDN convertors and specialist consultancy to help. Colleges like Accrington College have used the savings to help justify a new telephone system! Even the University of Manchester benefit from our standard reduced call charges – this is because we understand educational sites are different.

One size phone systems don’t fit all

VMWare has enabled a new generation of software based telephone systems. Lower cost, paid for by SIP trunk cost savings, lightweight, quick to deploy means replacing old clunky systems is easy. Pennine understand the college market like no other. We understand colleges have roles that are not served by a 1 size fits all phone system. The roles at colleges are typically Reception (and contact centre), Senior Management, Desk based staff, staff who roam around the campus (IT and estates), lecturers all have different requirements.

College staff want to communicate HOW they want and WHEN they want – some using apps like our award winning customer Essa Academy. Some want to integrate their two way radio system across geographically spaced campuses like Hopwood Hall College.

Let us work with you and have a conversation about how we can make your IT teams’ and all your staffs’ lives easier, with a new system. Even subject focussed colleges like Royal Northern College of Music, have benefited from our understanding that education operates like no where else!

Can we help you get connected?

Since 2009 we have helped over 15 colleges achieve their IT goals. Can we help you? Contact us by e-mailing or ringing me on 07966 320 221.