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Major food retailer rolls out Billion 3G/ADSL failover routers to over 300 outlets across the UK to ensure it can keep the tills ringing


rozen food specialist, Farmfoods, has over 300 retail outlets across Britain. As with all retailers, Farmfoods aims to ensure customer card payments made through the electronic point-of-sale (EPoS) system are authorised as quickly as possible; this enhances the customer experience, maintains the reputation of the business and increases staff productivity. One major threat to ensuring a seamless payment process is a break in the telecommunication line between each store and the bank. To address this threat, Farmfoods’ IT consultant Dacoll recommended a specific Billion 3G-failover product that would guarantee a consistent and secure working EPoS system even if the fixed-line communications went down. It also needed to be able to cope with dynamic internet protocols (IPs), on both asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and 3G networks, across different geographic locations with varying signal strength.

The retailer also evaluated at Sarian,DataVoice,

and Fortinet, before deciding on Billion because of its simplicity of use, performance and reasonable pricing. The Billion BiPAC 7800GZ was chosen, installed in pilot and then as a trial run for 30 retail outlets over a six-month period. After a successful installation and review of the trial,Dacoll has rolled out this solution to all of Farmfoods’ UK stores across the UK installed in tandem with new card terminals. Each outlet’s EPoS system can now be assured of: data security; automatic failover to 3G and back again; instant communication to Farmfoods headquarters of failover activation via email alerts. The 3G failover system also ensures each outlet can still communicate via email too if the fixed- line infrastructure fails. Mark Haggerty, Farmfoods IT manager, explained:

“The Billion 7800GZ provides Farmfoods with a simple 3G backup to DSL communications. It is vital our stores maintain IP connections for processing payments, but it is also important to be able to send orders and keep in touch by email; if a problem arises, we need a router that reacts without user intervention – the Billion units fulfil this requirement, leaving our staff to concentrate on delivering the best service to our customers.” In the past, Farmfoods kept a small stock of 3G

routers at HQ that could be deployed for prolonged outages; however these took time to be delivered to the affected store, required manual setup and were also comparatively expensive. The new system means


each individual outlet is equipped and ready to handle any ADSL failure 24-hour cost effectively, with no user intervention. Given the varying outlet locations across the UK,

including rural and city sites, signal strength was a potential issue. However, the external 3G antennas of the BiPAC 7800GZ are detachable for fitting antenna extensions if required, to assure the best signal. Unit installation was simple enough to be carried out by Farmfoods field staff. The Billion support process was straightforward, given a negligible failure rate and any replacements were promptly supplied. Farmfoods uses three different mobile networks, with the network provider with the best coverage selected for each location. All outlets now use dynamic IP on the SIM card, with ADSL as the fixed-line infrastructure. The Billion BiPAC 7800GZ uses a Broadcom ADSL chip and Sierra Wireless 3G embedded module. Not only can it send email alerts if a failover occurs, but also alerts of 3G data usage figures. It also features triple- wide area network (WAN) interface allowing users to connect to the internet via either wired connectivity of ADSL, or broadband connectivity, such as cable or BT Infinity fibre by configuring one of the Ethernet ports as a secondary WAN, or via 3G connections via inserting a 3G/HSPA SIM card into its built-in SIM slot. It also supports embedded IPSec virtual private network protocols (VPN), allowing users to establish encrypted private connections of up to four simultaneous tunnels over the internet.

If a problem arises, we

need a router that reacts without user intervention… leaving our staff to concentrate on delivering the best service

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