Alberta Educators

Golden Hills School Division (GHSD) is the amalgamation of three school jurisdictions across mid-Eastern Alberta. Formed in 1995, GHSD encompasses a large rural area that sees their head office in Strathmore. As of October 2014, the division serves approximately 6,500 students, and employs 374 certified teachers and 341 support staff (bus drivers, maintenance workers, educational assistants, caretakers, and others). They needed our help with our communications system and we rose to the occasion.

GHSD by the numbers:

The Challenge

Communications management solutions on a budget

With the idea of tightening school budgets in mind, GHSD asked ThinkTel to come up with information and tech solutions that would see them better manage their communications deficiencies and telecommunications costs.

The Objectives

Provide a reliable, efficient and cost-effective communications system

Their main office is located in Strathmore, but GHSD needed to easily connect to their other 25 sites. Due to the vast geography between each site, we aimed to come up with a communications plan that would not only upgrade their existing VoIP services, but also reduce costs. Furthermore, through PRIs, their network relied on connections to remote zones using three locations (Strathmore, Drumheller and Three Hills) as hubs.

We examined their existing system to discover:

The Solution

A communications system that is fit to GHSD’s exact size and needs

With the GHSD team deciding to leverage their existing SIP Trunking system to resolve their communications deficiencies and better manage telecommunications costs, we were able to tailor a solution to fit their specific needs.

ThinkTel used our ThinkSIP technology and took GHSD’s specific requirements; SuperNet compatibility, their own VPN connectivity, and local number portability and turned each into a facet of the ultimate solution. We facilitated a 60-day demo over public Internet with several DIDs in various rate centres in order for us to test their PRI setup simultaneously. The testing proved successful allowing us to transition the production service to Axia SuperNet over a six-week period. We were then able to take GHSD live with four sites for an additional six-month trial. Once the tests were completed, the system was rolled out across all sites without any downtime.

The Results

Seamless transition to a more efficient and cost-effective system

Stephen Elaschuk, GHSD’s Network Technician, best explains how seamless and simple the transition to ThinkSIP was:

“We were able to perform it during our busiest time of year without any of our staff, students, or parents, noticing.” He went on to lightheartedly say that he “Felt like a magician pulling a tablecloth out from under a set table and replacing it with another one at the same time.”

Our ThinkSIP solution resulted in a host of benefits for GHSD:

As the new streamlined communications system we created for them is efficient and cost-effective, the staff, teachers and personnel of GHSD can focus what matters the most: the educational needs of children in their districts.

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