Installing the Kisiizi telephone system

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent Friday last week working out whether the phone system donated to Kisiizi is in working order, and if it’s suitable for the hospital’s needs.

The conclusion is a ‘yes’ to both those issues: although it’s old (a Mitel SX-50 built in 1989!), the PBX (Private Branch eXchange) system seems to be working fine, and in its default mode of operation provides 40 extensions for the hospital. It’s pretty complicated to program – more so if you don’t have the programming manual – so I’m hoping that the default mode is configured as we require.

Yesterday, George, Gideon and I spent the morning planning how we could wire the hospital site up. After a couple of hours of discussion and scribbling on maps with coloured pencils, we have a plan: 4 trunk lines each carrying 12 connections, broken out into individual connections at sensible points around the site.

Kisiizi phone lines

I spent the afternoon racing around the site with a surveyor’s measuring wheel, working out the cable lengths. Time was of the essence: Gideon left this morning on a visit to Kampala (a day’s drive in each direction, so it’s good to take advantage of someone visiting) and was prepared to buy at least some of the cable.

The total cable length required are as follows:

Cable Length
12-pair ‘trunk’ cable 505m
8-pair ‘trunk’ cable 105m
4-pair console cable 50m
1-pair ‘final drop’ cable 2451m

Dr Tonny, the Medical Superintendent, was happy with the numbers I presented. Gideon is initially going to buy the 12-pair cable, and we’ll lay the connections from the exchange to the ‘hub’ sites around the site in the next week or two.

Mobile phones are very heavily used here: there isn’t really a landline infrastructure to speak of, and calls are cheap – similar to landline rates in the UK. Having said that, the hospital does have a ‘landline’ phone (I’m not sure how it works yet – by radio to a nearby mast I think). In theory, I could introduce that to the PBX as a ‘trunk’ circuit, allowing people to make outgoing calls after dialling the familiar ‘9’. Whether I can program the system to do this is another matter though…

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