In the northern part of the province of Antwerp, between the towns of Schilde, Westmalle and Zandhoven, lies Zoersel, a peaceful, small municipality that is home to some 21,500 residents. For several months now, the municipal services have been using the PubliLink Explore network from Belgacom. “We had been connected for some time to the older Belgacom BiLan network,” explains ICT manager Pieter Govers. “We were certainly satisfied with it, but the needs of our town had already begun to change so that it was time to look for an upgrade.”
“Especially the increased data consumption of the municipal services was a major motivation to find a follow-up for BiLan,” notes Govers. “The faster connections and lower costs for telephony offered by PubliLink Explore were definitely appealing to us. PubliLink Explore uses the fast Explorelines from Belgacom, which makes the network capacity much higher, plus we are able to make better use of VoIP telephony. That is also the most intensively used of features: the PubliLink Explore-range,” adds Govers. Some 150 of the 300 municipal employees currently make phone calls by VoIP. “The ocmw (public welfare office), the police, the libraries, schools, the fire department … With the exception of the external workers, everyone is using VoIP. And this has lowered our costs for telephony considerably. I’d say that the network represents a total saving of some 10,000 euros per year.”
Backup via 3G
Other suppliers were briefly considered for the upgrade to a new network but the municipality soon decided to entrust the job to Belgacom. “We have always had good experiences with them in the past and we didn’t want to change simply for its own sake,” reflects Govers. “What’s more, we are able to keep our familiar contact person within Belgacom, and that was also important to us. There was one more technical reason why Belgacom had an advantage: if your network unexpectedly breaks down, there is a backup, for example for the libraries, via 3G. Of course this works more slowly but it is still possible to continue operations.” The communication to government services, such as the Central Enterprise Databank (Kruispuntbank), is not yet being done via PubliLink Explore in Zoersel. “We are still using BiLan, mainly because CIPAL, the ICT-service provider from the government for the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg, still works with BiLan. As soon as they make the switch to Explore, we will too.”
The municipality & OCMW of Zoersel has some 21,500 residents and approximately 300 municipal employees. Virtually all aspects of the public services now use the PubliLink Explore network.
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