WLR Withdrawal, is your school ready?

As BT accelerates its plans to migrate the UK voice network from copper to fibre, the pressure to change solutions becomes ever more urgent. BT will withdraw the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) service by 2025. It sounds an age, but it isn’t. Schools need to be thinking about their future communications solutions.

Atomwide provide specialist telephony services for education, so we’ve outlined below a few ways you can prepare. If you want to discuss your options in more detail please don’t hesitate to book a review with one of our experts.

Have a look at one of your recent bills. Do you see any of these items listed?

  • ISDN30
  • ISDN2
  • Analogue Line
  • Business Line
  • Alarm Line
  • PTSN Line

If you do then you need to start thinking about your long term telephony arrangement. In short, anyone with an on-site PBX, telephone line, fax line, PDQ line or broadband line is affected and will need to make a plan.

What’s happening?

BT & Openreach announced some time ago the intention to switch off the ISDN services from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by 2025. They have also announced that they intend to switch off the whole PSTN service by 2025, with no new supply after 2023.

Although they’ve been the most reliable solutions to date, PSTN and ISDN are rapidly becoming out of date technology, and expensive to operate and maintain. Openreach plans to invest instead in fibre infrastructure rather than further invest in a new version of the PSTN (which is essentially Victorian technology).

This means that any individual or organisation still using these traditional voice services will need to have moved to newer SIP and IP voice solutions by then or, simply put, they won’t be able to use their phones.

What are our options? SIP and VoIP.

The terms SIP and VoIP refer to telephony based services delivered using IP signalling.  Historically, telephony based services have been delivered using technology and signalling which is now over 30 years old, such as ISDN30 and PSTN lines.

SIP services are generally used to connect lines to a telephone system and these are a direct replacement for the ISDN30 technology. VoIP is a general term used to describe routing voice calls over an IP network. The term is closely associated with hosted telephones, where a telephone system installed at a customer’s premises is replaced with a central system shared between many different locations.

What do I do now?

Essentially we all have 3 options.

  1. Ignore it all and do nothing

It should go without saying, but consider how important your phones are to your school. Though 2025 may seem like a long way off, 6 years can fly by. It doesn’t seem that long ago, for example, that Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as US President.

Recent studies have concluded that a large proportion of UK organisations are unaware that the change is taking place. Don’t run the risk. Have a plan in place and be ready for the change. VoIP and SIP based solutions will almost certainly offer cost-savings if deployed correctly and they’ll offer more functionality for your school, and be future-proofed for years to come.

  1. Panic and rip it all out tomorrow

Though it is time to take action, that doesn’t mean now is the time to change – you may not be ready. It may not make economic sense, or you may not have resource available to manage the transition. You could make the wrong decision, and chose a solution that offers little or no additional benefits over your current service, or even worse, spend time and money implementing something that will only help you out for the next few years. Make an informed decision, you still have time and options to explore.

  1. Engage with an industry professional to better understand my options and make a self-paced evolution to the future.

Atomwide have years of experience providing communication solutions to schools, including SIP and VoIP solutions, refining our portfolio to best match their customers’ requirements. We have already developed a number of IP and VoIP services which are available to replace the current PSTN and ISDN services and would be happy to discuss the benefits of these over your current solution.

We’re offering both new and existing customers alike the opportunity for a free telephony audit. This audit will review all of the telephony services currently supplied to your business, providing a report on the services and a recommendation of the actions needed to prepare for the withdrawal of the PSTN and ISDN network in 2025.

If you’d like to discuss you telephony requirements in more detail or to book a free telephony audit please get in touch. To read more about our Voice solutions, please see our website, or download our brochure.

Tel: 01689 814700

Email: info@atomwide.com

Web: www.atomwide.com

The Bett Show

23rd – 36th January, Excel, London – Stand D260

Join us at The Bett Show where we’ll be exhibiting our range of designed-for-schools managed services. Our team will be on-hand to discuss your requirements and how our various solutions can help – including network management, VoIP, online security, remote backups, WiFi, CCTV, Audio visual, Online cashless payments, school technician service, remote network support and more.

We’ll be exhibiting alongside LGfL, demonstrating the benefits an LGfL or TRUSTnet connection brings as well as all the services and resources included, that help keep children safe and save schools money.

You can see our entire product and service range for schools here. If you’d like to book an appointment with a member of the team to discuss any of our services in more detail please email info@atomwide.com.

You can register for your free Bett pass here.

We hope to see you at the show!

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

Christmas

To all our customers, partners, suppliers and everyone who has helped make this such a great year. We wish you a joyous and restful break and look forward to getting back to work with you in the New Year.

Our offices are open throughout the holiday apart from weekends and bank holidays should you require any assistance.

Monday 24th December – 8am to 6pm
Tuesday 25th December – Closed
Wednesday 26th December – Closed
Thursday 27th December – 8am to 4pm
Friday 28th December – 8am to 4pm
Monday 31st December – 8am – 4pm
Tuesday 1st January – Closed

We will reopen from 8am – 6pm on Wednesday 2nd January.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

From all of us at Atomwide

 

 

Atomwide Services through Crown Commercial G-Cloud 10 Digital Marketplace Framework

We are delighted, as part of the AdEPT Group, to have had our services recognised on the new Crown Commercial Service G-Cloud 10 framework.

We have been recognised for our leading, education-focused email filtering service, MailProtect, amongst other contributions from across the AdEPT Group including disaster recovery, telephony, remote backups, cloud hosting, hosted email exchange, and security and support.

Buying services through frameworks is faster and cheaper than entering into individual procurement contracts, and also gives our customers the peace of mind that they are using reliable, proven services at best value as recognised by the Crown Commercial Service.

To discuss your organisation’s specific requirements, and how we can help you secure Atomwide services via the new G-Cloud 10 framework please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

Service Update: Case Management via ParentComms:Mobile

In a recent update to the ParentComms:Mobile app, the ability to monitor and update support cases via the app has been introduced. Nominated Contacts can now therefore use the app to keep track of any queries or issues on the move without having to find a PC to log into.

The ParentComms:Mobile app offers not just a convenient, cost-effective means to communicate with parents but also a wealth of other features and benefits when used in conjunction with other Atomwide services, such as:

OpenCheck – easily update parents if school has had to close

AutoText – efficiently send/receive messages via the app

VoIP – Get alerts if a 999 call has been made from your premises

CCTV – Monitor CCTV stills

Usage – Use the app to monitor network usage

The ParentComms:Mobile app is free to download for both Android and iOS devices. For all the information please visit our website – http://www.atomwide.com/parentcomms_mobile.html

The Crescent Purchasing Consortium ‘Provision of Telecommunications and Associated Services Framework’

Atomwide, as part of the AdEPT Group, have been awarded a place on the Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) Provision of Telecommunications and Associated Services Framework.

CPC are a purchasing consortium, owned and run by the further education (FE) sector. They provide their members with specialist advice on best spending practises, and how to obtain best value for money. Their main purpose is to produce EU-tendered purchasing frameworks. CPC frameworks cover a wide variety of products and service, and their aim is to continue to develop this portfolio in line with their members’ needs.’ For more information, please see www.thecpc.ac.uk

CPC has 4,700 members from FE institutions, academies and similar educational establishments. AdEPT have been awarded a place on each of the following lots:

Lot 1 – Integrated and Unified Communications

Lot 2 – IP Telephony, Voice Over IP and Call Packages

Lot 3 – WAN, VPN and Broadband

Lot 4 – LAN and Associated Services

Lot 5 – PABX Systems, PSTN Lines, Call Packages and Billing Solutions

AdEPT were the only organisation to be awarded a place on Lot 4.

If your school or establishment is interested in a new communication, connectivity or networking solution please don’t hesitate to get in touch and discuss your requirements. We can show you how one of Atomwide’s education-specific options can fit both your brief and budget.

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

NEW Service Update – ‘Soft One Time Passwords’ (OTP)

The latest service enhancement for LGfL / TRUSTnet schools is the addition of ‘Soft OTP’ functionality for USO users who wish for all the added-security afforded by second factor authentication, but do not wish to have to carry around a physical OTP tag. Soft OTP is now freely available for any member of staff in LGfL / TRUSTnet schools.

Why Second Factor Authentication?

The use of OTP protection for services and resources provides an additional layer of security, and reflects the importance of good data handling and security practices. By enforcing OTP authentication, users gain increased awareness of the sensitivity of certain information they handle, and the responsibility they have for keeping that information safe.

What is Soft OTP?

This new service enhancement allows users to obtain a one-time password via an app on their smartphone, instead of using a small key-sized device. Many authentication apps, including those of Google, Microsoft and Apple are supported and, where free to download from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, mean there is no cost implication for users in LGfL / TRUSTnet schools. The passcode will last for 30 seconds before being updated and replaced with another. A further update, coming in the next release, will see this functionality included in the ParentComms:Mobile app.

What about my OTP Tag?

If you’d prefer to keep using your current OTP device this is, and will continue to be an option. The tags are still available and come with a 12 month warranty, lifetime support and are maintenance free. The physical tags are still available for purchase from the Atomwide Shop.

How to get set up?

If you’d like to get started using Soft OTP please visit the support site, and read the new user guide detailing the set up process. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes

The Team at Atomwide

Is Lack of Space a Problem?

OfficePOD can help create the space you need…

OfficePOD specialises in creating space where, at first glance, there seems to be none left. They can create innovative spaces in the nooks and crannies of your school site, providing havens for teaching, meeting, studying and collaborating, or just for relaxation and contemplation.

The PODs are easily installed over a weekend, offering you the freedom to create space at any time of year.

Quick, flexible, attractive and effective, OfficePOD products can provide timely solutions to immediate problems and allow you to function properly again.

The space available within the POD provides an area that feels comfortable and safe and so creates an atmosphere that’s conducive to both learning and self-expression.” Gaynor Sbuttoni, Educational Psychologist.

“We no longer have to endlessly shuffle the time-table around. Our pupils and staff find it a fun, peaceful space in which to learn and work.” Sarah Gillam, Head Teacher.

Your POD is fully customisable, and we can work with you to ensure integrated AV solutions to enhance the usability of the space.

To discuss your requirements in more detail please see our website and get in touch.

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

01689 814700 | info@atomwide.com | www.atomwide.com

LGfL StaffMail is 10 Years Old

Upon creation of its first administrator account in March 2008, LGfL StaffMail was born, and so this month celebrates its 10th birthday. For a decade, StaffMail has provided schools with a secure, resilient, cloud-hosted email service that’s packed full of special, designed-for-schools features and benefits, earning its place as a leading email platform for schools not just in the capital, but across the country.

Developed and supported by Atomwide for London Grid for Learning (LGfL), StaffMail was commissioned to provide LGfL schools with the full functionality of Exchange without the hassle of having to maintain Exchange servers themselves – an early step into a cloud-hosting environment that is all the rage today.

In its 10 years LGfL StaffMail has evolved to include more features – personal and shared calendars and address books, MailProtect email filtering, Report As Spam, increased mailbox allowance of up to 30GB, Mail Archive and more.

LGfL StaffMail currently has about 220,000 mailboxes which contain about 200TB of data with a further 120TB of archive data. On average about 1.5 million emails per day are sent / received. Over the last decade, StaffMail users have sent / received an estimated 3 billion emails.

We are proud that LGfL StaffMail continues to grow, and that after 10 years it continues to offer a personalised, feature-rich and supported email service to fulfil the needs of its users.

If you have any questions about LGfL StaffMail or any of our email services please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

01689 814700 | info@atomwide.com | www.atomwide.com

 

Atomwide on the KCS Telephony & Associated Systems Framework as part of The AdEPT Group

We are delighted, as part of the AdEPT Group, to have been awarded a position on the KCS Telephony Framework. This framework covers the provision of telephony systems and associated services, both cloud and on-premise options. It includes but is not limited to, IP/VoIP telephone systems, call packages, connectivity & numbering.

The framework is operated on a national basis and is open to schools, academies, and local authorities as well as other public sector organisations. The framework is fully OJEU compliant and free to use.

Our designed-for-schools telephony service is jam-packed with added features and benefits to give schools everything they need from a telephone system tailored for their budget:

  • No line rental
  • FREE call-recording
  • FREE calls across connected schools / MATS
  • Typically low call charges
  • Premium-rate call blocking
  • Per-second billing
  • Included support agreement
  • Online contact directory
  • Click-to-dial
  • Real-time call log tracking and billing info
  • 999 alerts
  • Public announcements system

AdEPT’s award of a place on the framework means that schools are able to bypass lengthy tendering processes saving themselves time and money as KCS have already done all the hard work. We have been assessed on our financial stability, track record and professional ability before being awarded.

For more information on our VoIP service please see our website or to discuss your requirements more or request a quote please get in touch.

http://www.atomwide.com/voip/default.htm

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

Secure Data Transfer in myUSO to Support your Preparation for GDPR

As the deadline for GDPR compliance approaches, we wanted to remind supported schools of a handy tool we’ve developed in partnership with LGfL that provides a secure and traceable way to transfer data between authorised users and is already included as part of your LGfL / TRUSTnet connection.

USO-FX2 offers staff members the ability to share sensitive data with others within the school or LA as well as with relevant third parties or users both within and outside the USO system. Users have the option to distribute to both individuals and/or customisable groups.

Files are uploaded to a secure server and can be accessed by their intended recipients via a valid username and password, along with second factor authentication (via text message or OTP tag) where required. All actions come with a visible audit trail so that recipients get email alerts when files are available and the person sharing the file knows who has downloaded their file and when.

The file store is backed up on a nightly basis to protect against disaster or other incurred loss of current documents.

In terms of data protection compliance, the use of USO-FX2 helps to demonstrate a school’s commitment to the correct handling of personal or sensitive information.

USO-FX2 is just one example of a host of available resources for schools within myUSO including myDrive secure cloud storage, the myHomework online homework platform, the myLinks digital launchpad and more.

If you would like more information on USO-FX2, myUSO or any of its cloud-based school resources please get in touch.

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

01689 814700 | info@atomwide.com | www.atomwide.com

OpenCheck

Let everyone know when school is closed.

Perhaps most helpful in times of poor weather, OpenCheck is a free service for all UK schools that allows them to quickly and easily let parents, pupils and staff know if school has had to close in the event of an emergency or unexpected circumstance.

The morning after a night of heavy snowfall, for example, might result in a flock of calls to the school office (which may not be staffed) or a flurry of hits to the school website, which may not be able to handle the sudden, increased traffic.

With OpenCheck these are not problems.

Via the OpenCheck website, nominated contacts from a school can update the school’s status from a list of templates, or create their own. For example:

‘The school has had to close due to icy weather conditions. Please look out for further updates’

Authorised staff can update this status without having to be in school, at the OpenCheck website or with their smartphone using the free ParentComms: Mobile app.

The school’s OpenCheck status is then published in three ways:

  1. As an automated phone answer message that can be listened to by calling the OpenCheck number – 020 8408 7508, and entering your school’s 7 digit DfE code (available here).
  1. On the OpenCheck website and/or as an update to an RSS feed on your website.
  1. As a free push notification to the smartphones of those who have downloaded the ParentComms: Mobile app and registered for OpenCheck updates from school.

Authorised staff using Unified Sign On (USO) can log in at opencheck.atomwide.com and start using OpenCheck right away. If you are a member of staff at a school not using USO, simply follow the instructions here on how to get set up.

Best wishes,

The Team at Atomwide

7 Hints to Help with Census Day Returns

As Census Day approaches we thought we’d take a moment to highlight some points that we hope will help expedite and ease the process of making your return. Of course the main thing to do is be organised and in the likelihood that you’ve done it all before you won’t need to read this anyway. If filling in your school’s Census Return is new for you, or if you think it could be easier we do offer SIMS Training Courses on a variety of subjects including this – information on each can be found here. We hope you find the below useful.

  1. Census day is Thursday 18th January , the deadline for Academies is Wednesday 14th February, maintained schools will be informed by their local authority of their deadline date
  2. Ensure you have access to guidance for SIMS to remind and walk you through the process. The DfE Census Guidance is also a great resource for details specifications https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-census-2017-to-2018-guide-for-schools-and-las.
  3. Check that your DfE Secure Access Account is active by logging into their site beforehand https://sa.education.gov.uk.
  4. Before Census day carry out a ‘dry run’ in SIMS to give you a heads up on any potential data items that need addressing beforehand.
  5. Ensure you have checked which pupils/students are eligible for Top-Up Funding.
  6. Find out if any of your pupils/students have Post Looked After Arrangements.
  7. Update all Free School Meal eligibility dates.

Good luck! Should you require any support we offer a dedicated, great value and comprehensive SIMS Support package would be happy to discuss your requirements and provide a quote. Just let us know.

01689 814700 | info@atomwide.com | www.atomwide.com/sims

The Bett Show 2018

We will be exhibiting this year at The Bett Show, 2018 at Excel, London from 24th – 17th January. We are sharing Stand D260 with our partners at London Grid for Learning (LGfL) and Netsweeper. Staff from each organisation will be on-hand throughout the show to discuss the the very many services we each provide that help keep children safe online and help schools save money.

Members of the Atomwide Team will be available to demonstrate our industry-leading tech services that are now in use in over 3,000 schools nationwide.

Web filtering – Email – Email filtering – Sophos Antivirus – VoIP Telephony – Managed Wireless – CCTV & ANPR – Audio Visual – Online Cashless Payments – ICT Support – SIMS Support – TRUSTnet Broadband and more…

We will also be demonstrating the latest in Promethean ActivPanels and InVentry Visitor Sign-In solutions.

For the full range of Atomwide products and services please click here.

If you’d like to speak to a member of the team about any of the above please let us know so we can ensure the best time during the show for you to visit and have a chat. Our stand does get very busy!

To book an appointment please email events@atomwide.com and let us know which service you’d like to discuss and we’ll get right back to you with a range of times to choose from.

To register to attend The Bett Show please click here.

New, free training courses are now available

New training courses are now available for nominated contacts from both LGfL / TRUSTnet connected schools to attend. The courses cover a wide range of the services included in the LGfL / TRUSTnet bundle and are available for both technical and non-technical staff alike to help ensure you are getting the best from your service.

Training Courses are now available to book via myUSO, not the support site as has been the case in the past.

If you are not already using myUSO in school why not consider attending the myUSO training course? Free for all staff (not just for Nominated Contacts) the myUSO course will help ensure you are using the myUSO range of cloud-based services and resources such as online storage, file sharing, secure file exchange and online homework apps to the fullest.

The training is hosted at Atomwide’s offices in Orpington, is free to attend, and also includes a complimentary lunch!

Please see below a list of the available dates for the Winter.

6th February 2018 – USO Basics for Nominated Contacts

7th February 2018 – How to use myUSO

21st February 2018 – Web filtering using WebScreen2.0 for Nominated Contacts

For further information on any of the courses or to reserve a place please click the link below.

https://my.uso.im/training/booktrainingnc.aspx

Many thanks,

The Training Team at Atomwide