Sydney club plays with wireless VoIP

New systems breathe life into old telephony system

With an outdated telephone system and basic network infrastructure, Burwood RSL Club in Sydney has deployed new IP telephony and wireless networks, including a wireless link between two disparate sites.

Burwood RSL's technical manager, Bill Millard, told Computerworld the club's existing infrastructure consisted of one "flat" network with a Cisco router, a few Netgear switches, and two D-Link wireless access points for IT.

When Burwood RSL purchased Club Burwood, about one kilometer away, Millard needed to join the two telephone systems and saw VoIP as the only viable way to do it.

"We looked at fibre but the most cost effective way to network the two clubs was with wireless," he said. "We also had an existing DECT wireless system so I went the whole hog and covered both the venues with wireless."

The wireless link was accomplished with two 802.11a Aruba 54Mbps links running four access points in bridge mode. One bridge carriers all voice and one carries all data, which Millard said "felt safer that way". With the standard antennas not suitable enough, the club chose larger 500mm beam antennas with a dish back grid.

Inside the clubs there are a total of 37 access points with 10 set up as monitors to monitor the other 27 to ensure the load is balanced properly.

With about half of telephones wireless, Millard said the HitachiCable IP phones work just like the wired phones.

"Mobility is a necessity. The infrastructure for wireless is fairly developed, just not the handsets where choice is limited," he said. "This should explode in the next twelve months [but] Hitachi is really only the viable option [as] the VoIP software on my Nokia is not reliable and works only one in ten times."

The wireless infrastructure is from Aruba networks, which Millard said won the deal because of all the amount of articles written about the company and big implementations it had won, including Microsoft's wireless network.

"I think it is the only thing that can do the job," he said. "Central management is useful but it does have some negative aspects. The ability to take the AP anywhere you want in the world is fantastic. I also like the guest access portal which we have just started to use but it will be more common."

For IP telephony, Burwood RSL deployed two Zultys MX250 exchanges with one at each site, including Power-over-Ethernet switches to power the desk phones.

The fact that Zultys recently declared itself bankrupt and was sold to Pivot does not concern Millard as the technology was based on open standards.

"Zultys is a fully IP-based system with SIP so if it disappeared I can move to something else," he said, adding all the other products he looked at were not SIP-based.

"They are worth keeping alive. Zultys has given me so much more power over my phone network that the old Nortel PABX."

Millard also praised the integration partner Centrix, describing the people as the most thorough he has dealt with.

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