Telemedicine

BT pilots N3 VoIP service for NHS, London

NHS trusts in London are being offered free connections to the N3 Local Gateway Service (LGS) as part of a major city-wide pilot. The N3 LGS provides an interface between a local telephone switch and the N3 Voice Core Services Central platform. It enables cost free telephone calls to be placed over the N3 network and grants access to the central mobile gateway, enabling reduced rate calls to mobile phones. Costs to trusts are limited to a signalling interface card to connect to the N3 gateway, software configuration charges and a monthly management fee. Currently 21 trusts in London have joined the pilot, which has been running for a couple of months. Another 26 are ready to proceed, while several more are expected to sign up before funding expires on 31 December 2007. The pilot follows BT’s announcement in July that the N3 network has been enhanced to carry phone calls using voice over internet protocol technology (VoIP), meaning NHS trusts can make free IP phone calls using the N3 LGS. As well as the free calls to any UK landline number, a partnership with mobile operator O2 means that trusts will also be able to call mobile numbers at a subsidised rate. BT claim that around 70% of NHS call charges are to mobile phone numbers at present. The pilot will also help to explore whether the N3 network can support new technologies. NHS Connecting for Health has part-funded the pilot with BT to explore the benefits of the N3 Local Gateway Service across a large scale community. The outcomes are expected to influence the uptake of services in other regions, and BT wants as many trusts as possible to take up the funding opportunity before it expires. London trusts have been involved in roadshows at the BT Tower and are enthusiastic about the benefits N3 LGS is providing.

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