Com Tech and Cisco build $15million network for rural Vic hospitals

A cooperative of 12 hospitals within the South West Alliance of Rural Hospitals (SWARH) in Victoria has selected Com Tech Communications and Cisco to build a high-speed switched network.

Under the five-year, $15 million contract, the cooperative has chosen to implement a microwave WAN with fully switched Cisco-based voice over IP technology. This will replace the existing PABX system and offer integrated voice and data for cost-free calls between the 33 sites.

According to officials, high-speed microwave links will be in place at 15 sites by the end of the year and 18 smaller sites will be connected via fibre-optic cables.

It is expected the IP rollout will be completed over three years.

Garry Druitt, SWARH chief information officer, said the new communications network will enable the hospitals to deliver e-mail, intranet services and videoconferencing, as well as conduct free calls between sites and calls to Melbourne at the cost of a local call.

In the future another key benefit will be the ability to participate in telemedicine using videoconferencing, Duitt said.

The announcement follows last week's news that Ericsson and AAPT will build a separate broadband network for a cooperative of other hospitals within SWARH.

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