Mangere College’s implementation of the 3CX Phone System Pro VoIP solution has not only provided enhanced communications options for students, teachers and staff but also helped them adapt to changing lockdown rules and requirements due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
Across New Zealand, schools, households and businesses of all sizes are being encouraged to reduce their reliance on copper-based telecommunications and move their phone systems to fibre or wireless technology.
Compared to copper, fibre and wireless are safer, faster, more affordable and set the stage for digital transformation. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one such technology that offers New Zealand schools the opportunity to connect better with students, provide unified communications for teachers and reduce the risk for administrators.
Enhanced communications during lockdown
“New Era installed the 3CX Phone System over the 2019/2020 holiday break,” says Tom Webb, Principal at Mangere College. “We weren’t using all of the features before lockdown but the system quickly became very useful to help our communications when we all had to work from home.”
“Teachers and staff were able to download the 3CX app onto their mobile phones,” he continues, “and that provided two major advantages. First, they could monitor their school phones from home and answer any voicemails. This was particularly important as a method for our community to contact us during lockdown.
“Secondly, staff or teachers calling from their mobile phones using the 3CX app gave us the ability to keep our personal numbers private while calling families or students. Plus the call would come in from the school number, giving families the confidence to answer the call knowing where it came from. And, from a purely practical viewpoint, calling via the 3CX app had the advantage of not using individual credit on teacher’s and staff’s personal mobile plans.”
Mangere’s timing was perfect. “Our old PBX was becoming a bottleneck,” says Helen Faamoe, Operations Manager at Mangere College, “and we were exploring options to move forward last year. Judi McNie, our New Era account manager, suggested that we look at VoIP as a potential solution. New Era carried out a fairly comprehensive audit of our phone systems – switches, handsets and cabling – and presented a solution for VoIP-based phone system that offered flexibility, resilience and low cost-per-line.”
“We trust their advice,” continues Ms Faamoe. “We have a New Era Ultra Gold support package in which a skilled technician is on-site two days a week. Their team is knowledgeable, Judi is up on the latest technology and their help desk is always responsive. Plus they always provide a range of options with the pros and cons of each.”
“Talking to teachers and staff is part of our audit process,” says Ms McNie. “This way we can ensure buy-in from the start. Mangere rang around other schools of similar size for references and helped us refine the scope of the upgrade package. In the end, Mangere decided that the 3CX VoIP system would be the most appropriate solution.”
For such a major transition, the actual implementation went very smoothly. “Since we already manage many aspects of Mangere’s ICT requirements as part of our Ultra Gold package, we were able to install and configure 3CX over the 2019/2020 holiday break,” explains Ms McNie.
“When the teachers returned to work at the end of January, the new VoIP system and handsets were in place,” explains Ms Faamoe. “We were just in the process of adapting to something new when the virus hit. Needless to say, during lockdown, making the most of our new remote capabilities was a godsend in respect to our ability to cope with all the telecommunications demands.”
Ms Faamoe appreciates the ease of use for the new phone system. “The phones are easy to operate and have a set of standardised functions,” she says. “This makes training and management much easier.”
The new normal
Now that Level One is the new normal (hopefully) and they can move forward, Mangere College is putting more and more of the advanced functionality of 3CX to work. “We are in discussions about integration with a campus-wide paging and intercom system,” says Ms McNie, “and have been helping them customise the system for specific tasks.”
Principal Webb sums it up nicely. “We have been very pleased with the general move to the 3CX system in school and the added functionality was invaluable during lockdown.”
Advanced functionality, expert support and affordable operations. New Era’s 3CX VoIP Phone System ticks all the boxes as your school transitions from copper to fibre or wireless.