Center for Information Technology Services

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)--the What, the Why, and the Competitive Advantage

You may have heard about the VoIP project, or better yet you may have received a new telephone with additional features and functionality.  CITS has been working on upgrading and advancing the voice and data communication infrastructure and deploying new VoIP telephones.  There will be nearly 1000 new VoIP-enabled telephones in use in UMB schools and departments this fall.  CITS will continue to roll-out these new phones over the next couple of years.  The following information explains what this technology is, and why we are implementing it at UMB. 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and other IP-based communication services are contemporary and mature technology solutions.  Voice “traffic” can now be transmitted over a packet-switching technology, which essentially means that voice “packets” can be sent and received like data and video “packets” over a converged campus network and across the Internet.  IP communications provides the foundation for future developments in networking and telephony services. It increases the availability of modern communications products, features and functionality to our campus community while at the same time controlling infrastructure costs.

The fact is that Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) is rapidly becoming outdated and VoIP provides services that POTS never imagined.  At UMB, our current telephone equipment is at end of life, and we need to advance to a more contemporary solution.  The current VoIP solution has many advantages over the existing UMB telephone service.  For example, it provides: 

  • Caller ID, Call Waiting, Call Screening, Three Way Calling, Automatic Redialing, Call Forwarding and Call Logs of Missed, Received and Placed Calls, etc. 
  • Much better Call Conferencing capabilities.
  • Enhanced 911, so that the physical location of the phone is automatically transmitted to emergency services.
  • Simplification of adding, moving, and deleting phones on the system.
  • Location independence within the UMB VoIP enabled network; i.e., VoIP phones can be moved from one location to another without a technician’s assistance. 
  • The ability to make Secure calls using standardized protocols.
  • Potential to save toll cost to dedicated off-site locations.
  • Unified messaging--access to e-mail and voice messages on a single device.
  • Mobility for users to log onto any networked telephone, and have calls to their extension routed to any phone from which they are working, including cell phones.

Future features will include:

  • Personal directory look-up and calling capability.
  • Speed dialing.
  • Integration with other services over the network and Internet, including emergency notifications, video conversations, message or data file exchange with the conversation, audio conferencing, managing address books, etc.
  • Advanced telephony features such as screen pops, interactive voice response and other possibilities, because the VoIP phone is on the same network as a computer.
  • Increased mobility with VoIP-enabled cordless phones which will provide Wi-Fi and WiMax connections.
  • The ability to follow a mobile employee with a fixed telephone number between and away from offices. 

In addition, this initiative includes the development of an upgraded, converged, redundant, and less expensive network infrastructure, with built-in features for reliability and quality:

  • More cost-effective to support one network for voice, data and video as opposed to two (one for voice, one for data and video).
  • Improved organizational efficiency, e.g., improved help desk call centers, strengthened disaster recovery and business continuity plans since the recovery of a single converged network typically takes less time than recovering separate voice and data networks, etc. 

Competitive Advantage:
IP convergence (IPC) is happening throughout higher education, at other academic health, human services, and law schools, and in companies across the globe.  All organizations are looking to add value to their operations and to remain competitive in pursuing new opportunities and recruiting and retaining personnel.  IP telephony helps build that competitive advantage.  With converged networks come additional services, including better security, messaging, collaboration and more.  UMB is poised to take advantage of opportunities with IPC, and CITS is preparing for this transition and looking forward to working with and collaborating with schools and departments to make it happen.