Cork County Council to invest €1.2m in network upgrade

11 Mar 2009

Two local communications companies have landed a lucrative €1.24m contract to upgrade and maintain a wide area network (WAN) for Cork County Council.

Munster-based Exigent Networks and PlanNet21 Communications, with offices in Cork, Dublin, Belfast and Galway, beat off stiff competition from around the country to win the three-year contract worth €1.24m for the entire Cork County Council’s internet protocol telephony (IPT), LAN (local area network) and WAN.

The council’s WAN is one of the largest wireless networks in Ireland, and aims to accelerate business-critical applications over the network and support the smooth running of data from its regional offices.

Cork County Council employs over 2,700 people, and the annual turnover (revenue and capital) in 2008 was €750m. Over the past number of years, Cork County Council has installed a comprehensive WAN, which links in excess of 100 office locations throughout the county.

In parallel with this, it has introduced an IP telephony solution which allows for inter-office telephone calls with no call costs. In order to ensure the WAN operates properly, it was essential for the council to put in place a three-year maintenance contract.

The key elements of the contract include wireless WAN technologies, terrestrial Ethernet services leveraging the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), IP routers, switches, and voice systems and uninterruptible power supplies.

This project is the largest adoption of high-bandwidth wireless technology by a local authority in Ireland, and it demonstrates the flexibility and cost effectiveness of using microwave wireless for interoffice connectivity, without the requirement for higher-cost/lower-bandwidth traditional leased lines. 

“IT plays a vital role in the delivery and improvement of Cork County Council Services,” explained Michael Murphy, senior executive officer, ICT Department, Cork County Council.

“The WAN is a key infrastructural component in the delivery of these services. This contract will ensure that outages in the WAN services are responded to promptly and the services reinstated in the shortest possible time.”

The WAN & IP telephony solution is vital to improving interoffice and public-facing communication within Cork County Council. Without these technologies, the introduction of developments such as the Customer Contact Centre and the decentralisation of the West Cork Planning service to Skibbereen would not be possible.

To maintain these services and to facilitate further such developments, it is critical that the WAN be maintained and supported in the most efficient manner possible.

Speaking on the contract awarded to Exigent Networks, managing director Paul Casey said: “Over the coming three years, we will provide Cork County Council with maintenance support on its entire licensed and unlicensed radio network, which connects all remote council offices back to the network core in County Hall.”

“The radio network replaces the council’s traditional leased lines with high-capacity bandwidth ranging from 8Mbps to 155Mbps. This ensures that the WAN delivers the bandwidth to further expand on current and future application requirements, thereby futureproofing the council’s investment.

“It is an exciting project to be involved with, and certainly shows Cork County Council’s commitment to investing for the future,” Casey added.

By John Kennedy