State-of-the-art communication in a listed castle4. February 2021 Published by Jana Greyling
The Château de Chillon in Veytaux is famous for its unique location on the rock island Île de Chillon on the eastern bank of Lake Geneva, separated from the mainland by a ten-meter-wide moat. The castle attracts many sightseers every year and is one of Switzerland’s most-visited historical buildings. Its fascinating style and picturesque lake location against an imposing mountain backdrop have made the monument one of the most-photographed scenic spots in Western Switzerland since the 18th century.
The castle as it stands today is the result of centuries of building work and historical embellishments. Excavations there prove that the rock island was inhabited as long ago as the Bronze Age – so it is a site with a long history. The château is now used in a wide range of ways and offers guided tours, events for groups of various sizes, permanent and special exhibitions, catering services, etc.
Château de Chillon: Company profile
The private Chillon Castle Foundation was set up in 2002. One of its missions is to administer, preserve and restore the historical monument.
The Château de Chillon is one of the most prominent monuments in Switzerland and the world. The edifice is of great importance from a cultural heritage and architectural perspective, is of international interest, and is a huge tourist attraction. All activities, events and services at, around and related to the monument respect its basic values: Tradition, prestige and quality have top priority. They also help conserve the building without interfering with its fabric and generate the funds required for the foundation to fulfill its mission. Chillon Castle inspires, entertains and arouses curiosity. It lives up to its role as a historical monument and safeguard its continued existence.
Company situation / starting position
In the peak season, the castle has more than 75 employees who are responsible for guided tours or work in reception and in the area of sales, cultural education, museography, administration and finance. Many of them must be able to be reached by mobile phone at all times so that day-to-day business can be maintained. There was previously no guarantee of that: The existing Mitel telephone system was long in the tooth and there were repeated outages and disruptions to daily operations because the DECT network was not able to cover the entire castle grounds.
Management therefore urgently needed to find a state-of-the-art telecommunications solution that would deliver such full coverage. Voice-over-IP (VoIP) was to be used as the technical standard as part of a holistic solution integrating the network and WLAN. After numerous offers and proposals for solutions had been submitted and compared, the contract was awarded to the company Mojolan since, compared to the rival bidders, it offered a comprehensive VoIP-based solution.
The big challenge was to modernize the telecommunications infrastructure in the listed castle without changing its appearance in any way and any large building work. That meant the existing connections with their analog 2-wire cabling (a very old technology where power, audio and – optionally – video signals are transferred over two cables and one that is prone to faults and outages) had to be retained. Likewise, no new installations were permitted and no additional pipes or cables allowed to be laid. Moreover, the existing positions of the DECT base stations had to be kept the same under statutory requirements relating to the protection of historical buildings and monuments.
onix, the service provider tasked with the conversion work, decided in favor of a cloud-based telephone system from 3CX that combines a telephone system and Internet connectivity in one installation. Since the existing 2-wire cabling was not allowed to be replaced by modern 8-wire LAN cabling, 2-wire adapters from Renforce were used in an initial stage. This solution enables buildings without structured network cabling to be equipped with state-of-the-art high-speed data communication networks. The château set store by a PBX from 3CX in conjunction with the N870 IP Pro DECT multi-cell system from Gigaset for the telecommunications infrastructure. The system’s individual DECT base stations are supplied with electricity via Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), which meant that no new 230-volt sockets or lines had to be installed.
The N870 multi-cell system now ensures full coverage over the entire grounds and is distinguished by the fact that it is very easy to administer and delivers a high level of interoperability. 19 N870 base stations were installed over the whole campus and each can handle up to ten calls in the selected configuration – more than twice as many as the previous system. As a result, all 75 castle employees can be reached – whether they have a permanent workplace or are out and about on the grounds.
The virtualized telephone system from 3CX also offers all the advantages of cloud-based telephony. Service and maintenance work on the hardware, as is the case with traditional telephone systems, is thus a thing of the past. The old gateways were replaced by SIP trunks, in which the telephone connection is established by IP, which also increases its reliability.
In addition to a number of desktop phones, the Château de Chillon sets store by Gigaset SL750H PRO handsets as end-user devices. Apart from boasting HD audio quality and a lean premium design, another distinguishing feature is that they are resistant to disinfectant – a key criterion, especially since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. “The Gigaset N870 multi-cell system and SL750H PRO handsets meet our needs to perfection,” says Executive Assistant Evelyne Perrin, who is in charge of administration of Chillon Castle. “The DECT system offers more calls per antenna than its predecessor – and its range is also far better. We’re finally rid of disruptions.”
“Every customer knows Gigaset. The company’s solutions are intuitive to use for everyone and also of the very highest technical standard,” states Marc-André Mojon, manager of Gigaset’s local partner Mojolan Sàrl, which was engaged by onix to install the Gigaset equipment. “Our customers love the handsets and design. The feedback from customers for whom we install Gigaset systems has been nothing but positive so far. Haptics, security, performance and the constantly available service – all those are aspects that mean we’ll also conduct our next projects using telecommunications Made in Germany.”