Located in rural Denmark, S.C., Voorhees College is a private, historically black, liberal arts school with approximately 600 students and three satellite campuses located in Augusta, GA., and Columbia and Charleston, S.C. To provide the best possible learning experience across all four campuses, Timothy Kentopp, Chief Technology Officer at Voorhees College, was eager to secure reliable telecommunication services to facilitate distance learning programs and an on-campus emergency response system.
Voorhees College faced myriad telecommunication challenges that hindered the institution’s efforts to expand its academic programs and provide emergency communication on all four campuses. Its old T1 lines and costly Centrex (ESSX) no longer delivered reliable service at a reasonable cost. The existing voice and data solution was insufficient for a comprehensive distance learning program.
The college faced further challenges in its remote location where fewer telecommunication services were offered. Newer technologies to improve the voice and data infrustructure were not available, frustrating the school’s efforts to grow enrollment and bolster academic offerings.
In addition, when the surrounding county adopted its first 911 system in 2002, Voorhees’ dated campus phone system did not allow for integration into the county system, leaving the campus population at a disadvantage.
Voorhees sought a solution to resolve its telecommunication challenges, to resonate with its academic and IT goals and to reduce telecommunication costs. The college turned to CDW Government (CDW-G) voice and data technical specialists to develop the best solution for its needs. The technology specialists executed a comprehensive analysis of voice and data carrier options, outlining the benefits and drawbacks of each. Then they mapped out a solution specifically designed to fit the unique needs of the growing institution.
The first phase of the project quadrupled campus bandwidth and added redundancy with a data solution provided by Verizon Business. It included three T1 lines to improve web support and reduce the internet outages that had once plagued the campus.
Voorhees and CDW-G then focused on building a solution to support distance learning and video conferencing across its four campuses. Sprint supplied a fault-tolerant, MPLS IP data network using Class of Service methods to ensure quality for video and VoIP applications.
Kentopp explains, “This solution allowed us to blend less expensive, high-speed Internet service with the performance of a LAN connection – an ideal choice for our needs.”
With the implementation of VoIP, Voorhees eliminated local long-distance charges for calls between campuses as well as to each of the surrounding metropolitan areas. The VoIP solution also improved video conferencing capabilities, enabling the college to select and schedule the best professors for each course, regardless of where students or instructors were located across the state. VoIP reduced professors’ travel expenses, eliminated the need to hire multiple instructors for the same course at four locations, and allowed the college to use its resources to recruit the best talent. In the long term, Voorhees expects its improved instructional quality to help attract new students.
The final stage of the project focused on providing critical voice services, such as 911 emergency call support and digital business grade primary rate interface (PRI). To implement emergency response, Voorhees needed a new PBX phone system as well as PRI service only available in the next county, 30 miles away. CDW-G leveraged its relationship with BellSouth and PAETEC Communications to upgrade telecommunication facilities in the area, allowing Voorhees to implement the necessary PBX phone system and PRI, thereby enabling emergency response.
Voorhees’ seamless telecommunications solution brought them up to date with new systems that extended the school’s instructional programs to each of its four campuses.
Beyond the immediate IT success, Voorhees realized a considerable reduction in monthly operating expenses. “By consolidating services with CDW-G, we’ve reduced monthly telecom expenses by half,” Kentopp said. “It is an awesome cost savings when you take into account that our new monthly bill includes the cost of a new PBX and IP phones.”
“Our relationship with CDW-G has been a win-win strategic partnership,” said Kentopp. “We now have a scalable telecommunication solution that will help us meet our goals.”