For a busy fire service like Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue, ensuring fast, reliable connectivity between fire stations and engines can truly make the difference between life and death.
MLL Telecom was successfully chosen to deliver enhanced Ethernet fibre connectivity based on two overarching factors: price, and the provision and design of service. MLL Telecom was able to offer a fully managed solution replacing the incumbent provider’s MPLS network, at a reduced cost and with additional bandwidth.
The Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue (HWFR) Service, governed by the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority, consists of 27 full-time fire stations, 22 retained stations and 41 fire engines, strategically located across the two counties. The HWFR Service counts around 250 wholetime firefighters – operating on a full-time basis and providing an immediate response – and retained firefighters, who work and live in their local communities and respond to emergency calls whenever they are needed. The Service is supported by some 20 Fire Control staff and approximately 100 support staff.
The HWFR Service receives nearly 10,000 emergency calls each year, requesting assistance to a wide variety of incidents. The Service attends over 6,500 incidents each year, approximately 125 per week.
For a busy fire service like the HWFR Service, ensuring fast, reliable connectivity between fire stations and fire engines can truly make the difference between life and death. The provision of this service comes with several challenges.
First, the HWFR Service must ensure that its firefighters can rely on a powerful network infrastructure that can effectively communicate vital information from one station, or fire engine, to another. Second, the Service must ensure it can rely on its network to mobilise its retained firefighters as and when they are required, in a timely and efficient manner.
Third, due to its 24/7 capability, the HWFR Service is also responsible for providing its staff with additional and alternative connectivity services. These services include back office activity, such as rota packages used by retained staff to clock in and out of shifts, basic connectivity back to SHQ and cable, satellite TV and internet access within the stations.
Without the required bandwidth to sustain both emergency services and additional services, the strain on the network has the potential to significantly affect connectivity across the wide area network (WAN).
In July 2017, after an extended seven-year contract with an incumbent national provider, and with a growing focus on procurement values, the HWFR Service decided to tender for its ongoing communications requirements. Not only was it trying to benefit from new cost incentives resulting from a competitive market landscape, it was also looking to upgrade its WAN infrastructure.
As a result of successfully navigating this process MLL Telecom was appointed on an initial three-year contract by the HWFR Service to deploy an upgraded WAN infrastructure to provide a faster, more resilient network, that is easy to manage and has the scope to be expanded if needed. The new WAN replaced the incumbent provider’s MPLS network, a key step in providing the HWFR Service with a network that could guarantee fewer single points of failure.
“The delivery of a high-performance Wide Area Network across all of our offices and stations, was a critical part of our strategic aspirations for ICT,” commented Jean Cole, Head of Corporate Services, Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service. “The appointment of MLL Telecom followed a competitive tendering process, which took into consideration the provider’s capability and track record for delivering secure, reliable, efficient and cost – effective WAN services.”
MLL Telecom was successfully chosen by the HWFR Service to deliver enhanced Ethernet fibre connectivity based on two overarching factors: price, and the provision and design of service. MLL Telecom was able to offer a fully managed solution replacing the incumbent provider’s MPLS network, at a reduced cost and with additional bandwidth. The MLL solution also provided the HWFR Service with access to real-time network performance reporting and visibility of network utilisation to aid future capacity planning to support new services.
The switch to MLL Telecom as a provider for the upgraded WAN has benefited the HWFR Service in several ways.
First, from a customer service point of view, MLL Telecom has been a refreshing change from the norm, offering a proactive and helpful service, and working with the HWFR Service to overcome any technical challenges that have arisen during the deployment.
Second, from a technical standpoint, the deployment of the new WAN across HWFR’s 27 sites is already promising a significant increase in bandwidth, particularly to stations that are wholetime (24/7), and at a lower cost than the incumbent.
The WAN will provide direct internet connectivity to stations, reducing the impact of non-emergency activity i.e. alternative services, on the rest of the WAN. Indeed, the switch to MLL Telecom as a provider will allow the HWFR Service to increase its bandwidth by a multiple of ten.
The switch to MLL Telecom is due to be completed in summer 2018 and will be the underpinning platform for other ICT project services going forward.