TES helps Northern Ireland college call for backup

10 April 2017

South West College (SWC) in Northern Ireland has overcome its comms challenges with the help of Leyland-based TES Radio.

The college’s campuses in Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh are around 35 miles apart and host more than 500 staff and 25,000 students. All this meant the logistics of managing the IT department were daunting.

SWC technical supervisor George Frazer says: “The campuses are also quite large with big buildings and set in hilly terrain, so communication-wise, the traditional radio equipment we had was inadequate in terms of site coverage and signal.”

TES specialises in secure wireless communications systems and was accepted as member of the North Western Universities Purchasing Consortium last year. After winning the tender, it has deployed a multi-site radio solution to SWC. The firm says it did not use repeaters or a DAS (distributed antenna system) which would not only have proved costly but also tricky to install as some of the college buildings have listed status.

Instead, TES opted to overlay an IP-based radio system across SWC’s existing multi-vendor Wi-Fi system. It used radio over IP (RoIP) equipment from Icom, including the VE-PG3 RoIP gateway, two IP1000C system controllers each capable of supporting 20 handsets, and 18 IP100H WLAN radios which feature push-to-talk functionality over IP. TES pre-configured the college’s IP radios, which meant reduced engineering time for the college, and integrated them into the existing IP network.

“Previously, I had to phone the IT offices at the other campuses and hope someone was there or available on Skype,” says Frazer. “Now I can pick up the radio to call another campus and know that they can hear me, or I can do a general call to everyone on that campus.”

He adds that the new system supplied by TES will greatly improve workflow and operational efficiency. “We now have a speed of communication that we simply didn’t have before,” says Frazer.

TES was formed in 1991 following a management buyout of the Communications and Engineering Services Department of North West Water (now United Utilities).