Nortel Case Studies

Blackwells Books Nortel Case Study

History of the Company

The family firm of Blackwells’ started in one small room and has risen to become one of the world’s leading academic booksellers and publishers. It is now in the hands of the fifth generation and since its founding in 1879, Blackwells’ has remained a family-owned business whose philosophy and role is to support the book-buying and information needs of students, academics, professionals and librarians. In 2004, Blackwells’ celebrated 125 years of book-selling excellence. BtL have been working with Blackwells for 3 years providing voice services. Towards the end of 2005 BtL developed a proposal to replace Blackwells’ aging ISDXs with a Nortel solution. This was signed off in early 2006.


Blackwells’ have 80 offices and shops throughout the UK and an important part of Blackwells’ business is communication. Blackwells’ currently have a “state of the art” internet solution in place, and to match this high level of technology they require the same from their communications platform. Blackwells’ required a solution that could not only offer them a reliable telephone system but also provide a VoIP solution that would improve communication between sites and also reduce call costs. The aim was that over the next 5 years the savings in maintenance and leased lines, along with call costs, would cover the initial system cost. This solution had to be reliable, future proof and above all manageable by the internal IT team. Another driver for the change was the age and cost of maintaining the existing ISDXs and the Leased lines between them.


When Blackwells’ came to Between The Lines and 1st Communications partnership for a solution we firstly had to understand the needs of the customer including the number of sites, users per site and the standard of the existing infrastructure. We needed to build a solution that not only met Blackwells’ needs but one that would take into consideration VoIP being rolled out and whether or not each site had suitable internet access. The network design is based on a CS1000S call server from Nortel, that acts as a gate keeper (switching hub) routing calls from any site on the Blackwells’ network to any other site. Gate keeping is the sole function of the CS1000, it has no extension/users and no connection to the PSTN. The Tiscali Data Centre in Milton Keynes was selected as the most suitable site location for the CS1000 equipment and a national IP network. For BTL and 1st Communications partnership, this was the first VoIP CS1000 to be installed to work with BCM. The second part of the solution was to roll out Nortel BCM’s into the shops and offices within Oxford area. In order to provide a cost effective solution the initial BCM400 at Broad St would also provide remote IP phones into the small shops – this was enabled by using a Nortel’s powered 460 Ethernet switch and a using the Nortel VPN software on the BCM. This solution alone has enabled us to cease 4 ISDN lines and remove the need for any additional telephone systems. The next part of the project was to commence installation of a BCM400 into the warehouse. A more labour intensive installation, due to the physical size of the building and also the requirement of 8 analogue extensions and 64 digital extensions over older telecom cabling network. This ran well with all the users cut over in an hour and no problems found, this was thanks to pre-configuring this system at our offices and giving us and the customer less time on-site. Beaver House is the Head Quarters for Blackwells’ in Oxford, with 170 users working from this office. The critical requirement for this site was to not only have the new system up and running without interruption to service but also to have the VoIP working from cut over. The VoIP plays a major part of this site as most inbound calls for Oxford route through this office with a view to being transferred out. To make this solution more dynamic we provided DDI in order to cut down the workload for reception. As part of this solution we installed 02 x IP Consoles on the reception desk in order to manage the high call volumes better. Convergence again played a large part of this project as 40 of the users benefit from the Nortel IP 2002 and Nortel IP 2001 Telephones using power over Ethernet switch’s. This now gives the company the flexibility for hot-desking using the Nortel IP 2050 softphone and Nortel’s USB headset, which in time could allow for less office based staff. Blackwells’ are also using wireless within the group which makes it easier for staff to hot-desk between sites without having to find a desk with a Ethernet connection and telephone.


In summary, this rollout was a real chance for BTL and 1st Communications partnership to utilise our existing skills and also exercise our new skills in order to make convergence a bigger part of our business, this helps us also to increase our margins by selling solutions and not just systems.