Radio Extension Service For Clackmannanshire Council

About Clackmannanshire Council

Clackmannanshire in Central Scotland has a population of 49,000 in an areas of just 62 square miles. Nicknamed the ‘wee country’, it is bordered by the River Forth to the South and the Ochil hills to the north. When a challenging requirement arose to connect two local area networks located a few miles apart, affini was asked to deliver the right solution.

Local Co-operation

Clackmannanshire Council is one of 32 Scottish unitary local authorities and provides a very broad range of public services to the local people, covering the areas of education, criminal justice, housing & social services amongst others. One of the Council’s stated aims is to “ensure that the people of Clackmannanshire receive the highest quality services for the public pound.” In particular the council has developed a close relationship with its neighbouring council of Stirling and both councils work together where they can, looking to gain added value by sharing services. An example of this is that both councils have for a number of years shared winter maintenance on roads and pavements.

Building Bridges

Recently the two councils looked at how they could develop their existing cooperation. Whilst the distance between their two office locations is just over five and a half miles as the crow flies, the situation was complicated by the fact that the offices are on opposite sides of the river Forth. Both Councils are keen to reduce travel between the two offices for meetings or to exchange data. Technology was seen as a potential solution. During discussions one area that came to light was the need to improve connectivity between the councils’ computer networks. There was an existing network link in place but it operated at very low speed in relation to the attached networks. Envisaging a greater demand for voice and data exchange, they concluded that the low speed of the existing connection would prevent any further co-operation happening – it was time for an upgrade. The driving force behind an enhanced network connection was to allow greater communication between Stirling and Clackmannanshire,t o enable service sharing. It was also vital that the new link allowed for swift, efficient and effective communication, with improved capacity and throughput. Value and service were also important.

A New Link

Taking the lead on the project for this new network link, Clackmannanshire’s requirement was to link 100 Mbps Ethernet Local Area Networks (LANs) at two sites transparently and reliably, with a proven and cost-effective solution. Fast, seamless connectivity was needed, with the Ethernet LANs connected to enable quick, easy and secure sharing of information.

For many years now IT and telecommunications managers in local authorities have recognised the value of leased circuits such as LES 10 as one of the most economical ways to deliver the high bandwidth connections required for LAN to LAN interconnect. However the price of such fibre-based circuits has increased dramatically in recent months, to the extent that they are now uneconomic as a point-to-point data circuit for many organisations.

Clackmannanshire did however investigate such options for the new network link to Stirling. The bottom line was that LES was extremely expensive – to the point where it was not a viable option – but an even bigger issue was that the lead time for the installation of a leased circuit was excessive. The Council needed an alternative solution, and they turned to affini.

Radio Extension Service

Partly to address the problems of increased costs with fibre-based circuits – but also to offer a service that was more flexible and cost-effective – affini had introduced its Radio Extension Service™, or RES™. Based on high speed radio technology, RES provides a more economic alternative to fibre-based circuits, as well as a much faster installation time. Using its close links to Ofcom, affini handles all of the necessary radio licensing issues.

A key benefit of RES is that it provides all of the features and functionality expected from a comparable fibre based LES solution, but with added cost savings when considering the total cost of ownership, plus a more flexible range of throughput rates. RES total cost of ownership, plus a more flexible range of throughput rates. RES is permanently connected and available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, and provides the necessary Quality of Service to carry data simultaneously with delay and jitter sensitive services such as VoIP and video.

affini proposed its RES 100 service to Clackmannanshire Council: this would link the two 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet LANs with a point-to-point connection and provide the throughput for the voice and data traffic that the councils wanted. Crucially, the cost of RES 100 was significantly lower than a leased circuit – and the final, clinching element was that affini could install the RES link within a just few days…

Summary

Installed in super-quick time and now fully operational, with a projected 99.95% availability rate, Clackmannanshire is reaping the benefits of a RES 100 link. Prioritised to handle VLANs and VoIP, RES 100 has met all of the requirements the councils had. Clackmannanshire and Stirling are now sharing both computer and human resources over the new connection and in the process have improved and enhanced the delivery of public services to the people of both areas.