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Hampshire IT

Video conferencing for schools

Video conferencing – the possibilities are endless!

National and international museums, galleries, libraries, universities, colleges and schools are at your fingertips!

  • Have a ‘virtual’ field-trip!
  • Entire classes can participate in a French class in Paris!
  • No need to worry about the Health & Safety issues with excursions!
  • No need to pay for accommodation and travel long distances!

Video conferencing service

This service is delivered via the schools HPSN SWAN line and provides a robust and effective way to video conference with schools or institutions all over the world.

The solution is the AETHRA X3 Video Conferencing system, which is a dedicated IP video conferencing appliance with on-board pan, tilt and zoom camera, tabletop microphone and remote control, requiring only an HPSN-SWAN network connection, PC speakers and a display device such as a PC monitor, TV or projector.

Using connections with the Janet Video Conferencing Service (JVCS), we can ensure excellent quality of service at all times.

Video conferencing in action


Q. What is the video conferencing service?

A. This is a service that went into production in 2006. It is delivered via the schools HPSN SWAN line and provides a robust and effective way for them to videoconference with schools or institutions all over the world. A single dedicated solution called AETHRA is being offered. The hardware comprises a video-camera, set-top box, remote control & microphone.

Q. How much does the service cost?

A. We are currently unable to offer video conferencing as a new service. If you would like to be added to the waiting list please contact the IT Help Desk.

Q. Can more than one AETHRA solution be purchased per school?

A. Yes.

Q. Have other regions deployed the AETHRA solution?

A. Yes, the AETHRA model X3 has been used extensively by other schools’ networks (e.g. London Grid for Learning) and has proved very popular and compliant with classroom requirements.

Q. How is the video conferencing system connected to the HPSN SWAN network?

A. The broadband link comes from the router into Port 24 of the Cisco Catalyst 2950 VLAN switch. Port 22 on the 2950 is the dedicated Video Conferencing port. A CAT-5 cable connects this into the schools’ internal switches.

The video conferencing kit is connected via CAT-5 cable into the schools internal structured cabling; in the example port 0/14 is used. In the switch cabinet, port 0/14 must then be patched into the schools internal switches as per the example above.

If the kit was installed in the same room as the VLAN switch, it would be possible to bypass the schools switches and structured cabling but a crossover cable would be required as opposed to a normal CAT-5 cable.

Q. What do we need to do if CAT-5 cabling is not available in the room we wish to use for video conferencing?

A. You will need to arrange for cabling to be installed in the room before the VC installation. You should contact your Buildings Surveyor for them to recommend a cabling contractor.

Q. Can an AETHRA unit be shared between schools or loaned to another school?

A. Yes - although there are several implications to doing this:

  1. The AETHRA unit must be registered with one particular school, who will essentially own and manage that unit.

  2. Each time an AETHRA unit is moved between schools, certain settings within the AETHRA box have to be changed; the E.164 address, alias and IP address. Although we don’t think it’s necessary, we can assist with performing this change, but it will be chargeable. Hampshire IT will write procedures for this as part of the handover at installation time.

  3. Hampshire IT would have to undertake an Install visit to each school sharing the unit; in order to ensure that the unit worked in situ. A standard installation charge will be incurred. The annual support charge will be invoiced to the owning school; it would then be that school’s responsibility as to how or whether the other schools would contribute to this charge.

Q. I am interested in purchasing the AETHRA unit, but cannot afford it - what are my options?

A. The AETHRA unit may be leased with Investec; current costs are printed in the County Supplies Catalogue. Schools are only permitted to take a lease up to a maximum of 3 years under financial regulations. If schools opt for this option, they need to state on the SAP order that they wish to lease the equipment from Investec.

Q. What are the implications of using an unsupported video conferencing system?

A. If you wish to use a solution not provided by Hampshire IT, it may be possible to purchase an alternative solution and make use of the HPSN SWAN network. However, if you choose this approach, we would have to investigate the unsupported solution from a security aspect. This is a chargeable task.

If Hampshire IT accepted the unsupported VC solution, we would then also need to perform the following chargeable tasks:

Quality of Service change (within HPSN-SWAN) network *...

An intrusion assessment essentially tests the new PC-based hardware / software to ensure that it does not make the HPSN SWAN Network vulnerable as a result of connecting the new software/hardware to the network.

In order to optimise the service to its maximum potential, the QoS for VC must be set to 1Mbbi-directional.

All bandwidth is available for data when the Video Conferencing equipment is not in use. Please note: Hampshire IT will not troubleshoot any non-network problems for unsupported solutions.

Q. What support will Hampshire IT provide, and will it be an extra cost?

A. Schools can phone the IT Help Desk for problems concerning the equipment, or connectivity.

If the Videoconference call has been registered via JVCS (for calls outside of the Hampshire school network) then the JVCS Service Desk should be called.

Hampshire IT will support any problems associated with the equipment. Hampshire IT has spare AETHRA units in case a replacement is required. All support costs will be charged to your normal school’s SLA.

Q. How many children can take part in a video conference?

A. The AETHRA solution for video conferencing is suitable for small to medium sized groups.

Video conferencing can be used for larger groups to view presentations (for example at the Natural History Museum) however, two way interaction video conferencing will work better in a smaller group or with children taking turns to address the camera.

Q. Can the video conferencing system be moved to a different classroom?

A. Yes, as long as the room has CAT-5 cabling to a data port that links to the VC port on the SWAN switch. Each room should meet the room recommendations for lighting, blinds, wall colour etc.

Q. How many video conferences can be run simultaneously?

A. This depends on the maximum bandwidth available on the SWAN switch and other applications which use the bandwidth (for example internet connections). If multiple VC sessions are run, this will reduce the bandwidth available for internet connections as video conferencing will take priority.

Q. What is the expected life of the AETHRA unit?

A. There is a 2 year warranty on the unit, which can be extended at an extra cost, to 3 years.

Synetrix have stated that in their experience, the units have lasted much longer than this, but cannot provide any guarantees.

Q. Is there a charge to video conference with schools outside of Hampshire, e.g. Surrey?

A. No. The service provided by JVCS is free of charge. However, there is an out-of-hours charge if cover is required.

Q. Is there be a directory of other schools with video conferencing that they can connect with?

A. Yes. This information is available within the JVCS website once the school has been registered to the service. Also, Hampshire IT maintains a list of ‘Pen Pals’ within the video conferencing service.



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