CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Super-fast Internet connections aid student research. Virtual classrooms connect students and teachers around the world. Video streaming enables teachers to display clips from a central database. Computers and phones work together to provide links among school facilities and local public safety personnel, improving communications and security for students and teachers.
All of these advanced applications were highlighted yesterday at a community event hosted by the School District of Cheltenham Township at Glenside Elementary School. Working in close collaboration with Alcatel and Verizon, the school district is deploying a converged communications network similar to the networks used by many of the country's leading corporations. The new network, which carries voice calls, as well as masses of educational data over a single platform, will enable Cheltenham schools to cost-effectively use technology to help meet the challenge of improving education quality while promoting student safety and security.
"The district has a long-term plan to infuse technology into classrooms," said Christopher W. McGinley, superintendent, School District of Cheltenham Township. "The switch convergence and Internet protocol telephony will dramatically change the way our students learn and our teachers teach. For example, online learning opportunities will increase exponentially through immediate access to an online video library for video streaming in classrooms. Distance learning will offer access to classrooms worldwide, fostering live experimentation and development of international relationships.
"In addition to advancing our educational goals, this new platform enables the district to ensure the safety of our students and forge stronger communications between teachers and parents," McGinley said.
A transparent local area network (LAN) operating at 10 megabits per second (Mbps) will speed voice and data among the school district's eight buildings. The convergence of formerly separate voice and data networks will help the district minimize network operation and maintenance expenses, freeing funds to invest in enhanced educational services. Upon completion next year, the converged network will support all 4,700 students in the district, as well as 600 teachers, administrators and support staff.
"Verizon and Alcatel have worked with many school districts, large and small, across the country to deploy converged networks that enhance education and provide the type of instant, ubiquitous communications necessary for safety and security," said Veronica Pellizzi, senior vice president - sales, Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group. "These networks allow districts to consolidate their infrastructure and reduce overhead costs. The savings can then be funneled into developing stronger educational programs."
Verizon worked closely with the Cheltenham school district to assess the previous network, identify key priorities and facilitate the vendor selection process. After Alcatel was selected to provide the hardware and software to meet the district's requirements, Verizon and Alcatel collaborated to finalize the network design and integrate the various applications. Verizon also managed the deployment of network facilities and Alcatel equipment.
Internet protocol telephony (IPT) provided by the Alcatel OmniPCX Enterprise communication server connects school administrators and teaching staff - in the classroom or on the playing field - via desktop computers, in-classroom phones or wireless devices. In the initial introduction of Alcatel's K-12 education district alert application, Cheltenham will leverage the networking capabilities of IP communications to simultaneously send each classroom districtwide instant notifications regarding weather, news, events or specific security concerns.
The Alcatel security application alerts administrators and teaching staff to a broadcast message via phone or computer. A voicemail box or computer pop-up screen can then be accessed to provide additional information and instructions. Alcatel offers applications developed specifically for K-12 that enable school districts to share knowledge and information, delivering enhanced educational resources and security.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group manages the design, operation and maintenance of end-to-end integrated network solutions for large business, government and education customers across the United States. With over 7,700 employees in 35 states, Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group offers a complete range of basic and advanced communications products and services to meet the voice, video, data and IP-related needs of its customers. In addition, over 5,200 field operations personnel support enterprise customers nationwide. In the enterprise market, Verizon Select Services Inc. provides Verizon long-distance service. For more information on products and services available through Verizon Enterprise Solutions Group, visit www.verizon.com/enterprisesolutions.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. With a diverse work force of approximately 208,000, Verizon has four business units: Domestic Telecom serves customers based in 29 states with wireline telecommunications services, including broadband, nationwide long-distance and other services. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 42.1 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com .
Alcatel provides communications solutions to telecommunication carriers, Internet service providers and enterprises for delivery of voice, data and video applications to their customers or employees. Alcatel brings its leading position in fixed and mobile broadband networks, applications and services, to help its partners and customers build a user-centric broadband world. With sales of EURO 12.5 billion in 2003, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit Alcatel on the Internet: www.alcatel.com/.
Kevin W. Irland, Verizon, 703-974-0474
Sharon Shaffer, Verizon, 215-963-6200
Tracy Dupree, Alcatel, 818-878-4408
Rachel Ezekiel-Fishbein, School District of Cheltenham Township, 215-635-1045