Schools should ensure that their wider network infrastructure supports the type of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) solution that they decide to deploy.
Since not all local authorities provide VOIP as a service, you should consult with them in advance of making a decision over the solution you want to implement.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephony uses the school network and the internet rather than traditional phone lines.
It has the potential to offer schools savings on calls but there are lots of options available, and schools should be mindful of choosing the system that is most appropriate to their needs.
Your local authority or an appropriate IT support partner will be able to offer solutions, advice and support.
Please see Planning and Management Standards for more detail on planning for school IT networks.
Considerations around VOIP can be complex and schools need to consider a number of issues when deciding on an appropriate VOIP solution:
- New telephone systems should be planned;
- Welsh language Standards must be considered;
- Systems need to be procured effectively to minimise on going costs; and
- Lease options must be carefully considered, particularly if the equipment is to be returned and there is the potential for penalty payments.
Schools should ensure that they have resilience measures in place in case of internet failure. These may include having an automatic call forwarding solution for designated mobiles or by having an additional landline in place.
Schools should take advantage of local authority provided VOIP solutions to ensure that they are receiving the best possible solution for their needs.
To ensure that Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) calls can be made effectively, the school should ensure that their overall network capacity can support the solution, without affecting usage in classrooms.
Where there are no adverse consequences on available bandwidth, you should enable Quality Of Service or QOS to support the prioritisation of voice traffic on your network.
As outlined in Standard C – routers and switches; the underlying infrastructure needs to be able to support Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephony.
Switches for VOIP should also be PoE (Power over Ethernet) enabled.
The underlying capability of switches should be able to offer enough throughput for VOIP traffic to maintain the quality of connections by prioritising telephony over other data traffic.
Where possible, you should enable Quality Of Service (QOS) to prioritise voice traffic on your school IT network and maintain the quality of calls made through VOIP. You will need to discuss this with your IT support partner to ensure that the deployment of QOS does not have a detrimental impact on bandwidth availability for teaching and learning.
Schools should ensure that routing and firewalls are configured to allow VOIP calls to be made efficiently and effectively.
As outlined in Standard G2, you should configure QOS where it has no negative impact on the remainder of your network functionality.
Schools should ensure that their broadband provider and IT support partner can enable the correct firewall and port settings to support VOIP fully.
Configuration of the switches, router and any firewall and filtering configurations necessary to support VOIP traffic needs to be enabled and monitored as part of the Planning and Management arrangements outlined in Standard AA.
As outlined in Standard G2, you should consider QOS as a means of supporting voice traffic, but only in consultation with your local authority or IT support partner.
Power over Ethernet ensures that data and voice can be supported effectively. It removes the need for phones to be located near a power source and reduces heat output. In all cases, you should ensure that the solution chosen can be supported by network capacity.
Power over Ethernet (POE) enabled switches will support VOIP devices by allowing for a single cable connection which powers the phone as well as providing data links and remote management potential (where the solution allows for that).
Please see Standard C: Routers and Switches for more information on switch infrastructure.
Daisy chaining should be avoided where possible – this can occur where the data point links to the handset and then the handset links to the computer. All new admin rooms should have two data points per desk to allow for a discrete connection to the network for both the VOIP handset and the network device.
Where you have a different IT support partner in place for your VOIP solution, you should understand which partner is responsible for which part of the solution so that any issues can be resolved quickly with minimal impact on the school.
Schools should ensure that they have a clear route for escalation to support their VOIP solution.
Where the VOIP is being provided by the main IT support partner, such as the local authority, this should form part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place for support. Where there are multiple providers, schools should satisfy themselves that each partner is aware of the parts of the solution that they support, and escalation processes should be agreed in the case of any issues that may arise.