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You may have heard about the Voice over Internet Protocol (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 are over 4,000 VoIP-enabled telephones in use in UMB schools and departments. The following information explains this technology and why we are implementing it at UMB.
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The fact is that Plain Old Telephone Services (POTS) is rapidly becoming outdated and VoIP provides services that POTS never imagined.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 VoIP solution offers many new features as compared to the existing UMB telephone service, such as:
- Caller ID, Call Waiting, Call Screening, Three-Way Calling, Automatic Redialing, Call Forwarding, and Call Logs of Missed, Received, and Placed Calls, etc.
- It provides much better Call Conferencing capabilities.
- It offers 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.
- Secure calls are made using standardized protocols.
- Potential to save toll cost to dedicated off-site locations.
- Unified messaging that provides access to email and voice messages on one 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 cellphones.
Future features will include:
- Person 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.
- Mobility will be increased with VoIP-enabled cordless phones, which will provide Wi-Fi and WiMax connections.
- 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.
- The infrastructure and technology allows for other benefits, including improved organizational efficiency, e.g., improving help desk call centers, strengthening 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.
IP convergence is happening throughout higher education, at other academic health, human services centers, 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.