KCOM provides connectivity to 230 RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK

Project involves two large bandwidth connections with resilient failover into the Poole HQ and a rollout of over 200 private FTTC and DSL connections across the UK

KCOM provides connectivity to 230 RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK

The RNLI, the charity which saves lives at sea, has partnered with KCOM to supply and upgrade its wide area network (WAN). The new, fully managed service now connects all of the RNLI's 237 lifeboat stations and is a key step in supporting ongoing plans to make its lifesaving work more accessible to volunteers, colleagues and supporters.

Working with KCOM, the RNLI has benefitted from having a single, dedicated partner with the expertise and resources to help deliver its ambitious plans. Very much aligned on company culture, KCOM and the RNLI have kept relationships at the heart of the whole project; relationships between each other, volunteers, colleagues and supporters have all been important factors in creating a network that supports everyone’s goals.

IT project manager at the RNLI, Steve North is pleased with the results: “Our aim is to give our station’s staff and volunteers the best service possible. Lifeboat crews and volunteers input the details of lifeboat launches and then upload video footage from their rescues, which can be used for media, training and fundraising.

“A faster connection helps us to spread the word about the lifesaving work we are doing much more quickly. The RNLI is dedicated to saving lives at sea, and investing in better technology at our lifeboat stations around the coast will help to do this.”

The project is already underway with two large bandwidth connections with resilient failover into the Poole HQ and a rollout of over 200 private FTTC and DSL connections happening across the UK, in some of the most remote locations around the British coast.

KCOM has worked with the RNLI to map out the most suitable, cost-effective connectivity for each site based on site needs, location and support requirements, and has also managed and monitored hardware installation including managed switches and wireless devices.

Gary Young, Executive Vice President, Mid-Market and Consumer, KCOM said: “Speed is vital in all aspects of the RNLI’s work, not just in saving lives but also in raising awareness of the dangers at sea.

“The Respect the Water campaign has seen unprecedented results in educating the public via its social media channels @RNLI on Twitter and Facebook and being online at all times is now a business imperative.

“It’s been fascinating working so closely with different areas of the RNLI - ultimately it’s all about people rather than technology, by putting RNLI volunteers first we’ve been able to create a network that’s almost invisible because it works so well.”

KCOM is now working with the RNLI to roll out plans for the Republic of Ireland which is due to be connected by Autumn 2016. The company said that for Ireland, it has been working with ‘WiMax’ type technology to provide internet access to very rural areas that cannot support a connection via a phone line.

These typically have an antenna on the outside of the building and terminate on a small POE device inside the building. KCOM then connects its router to this POE device and establishes a link to its VPN tunnel and from there connects the Cisco switch and access point as normal.

Photo Credit: RNLI, Nathan Williams

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