Durham County Council has consolidated a number of existing telecoms suppliers as it deploys an enhanced IP-based system to support flexible and remote working for its staff.

In 2009, eight councils in County Durham merged to form a new single unitary council. As a result there was a need to consolidate the multiple separate telephone systems and move to a single numbering scheme for the new authority. This also gave the council the opportunity to increase reliability over older legacy systems.

Durham brought in Azzurri Communications to install, manage and support the new phone system through a single service level agreement (SLA) across the entire 10,000-user estate.

Legacy hardware and services from BT, Philips, Siemens, Cable & Wireless, Russell Telecom, Executel and Freedom have been replaced to allow Durham to take advantage of new technologies.

The new platform supports computer telephony integration (CTI), so staff can retain consistent telecoms functionality if they are working flexibly or remotely, including through a hot desking system.

All are being migrated onto a single Mitel platform, with all PSTN and ISDN numbers moved to more efficient SIP (session initation protocol) connections. Durham is also deploying a unified communications platform to integrate with the Mitel system.

The telephony platform will also be capable of supporting other government bodies and public authorities in the future, potentially providing the council with a source of future income through shared service agreements.

Azzurri is taking on two local telecoms apprentices to help support the contract.