Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - VOIP Project Update

Author: ITS

Posted on Oct 2, 2013

Category: Management Briefings

Background The Voice‐Over‐IP (VOIP) project on the Fredericton campus was recently completed well within budget and slightly ahead of schedule. Almost 2000 standard phone lines were decommissioned, and replaced with a UNB network‐based system, complete with new desksets. Since implementation, the new phone service has been trouble‐free (other than normal start‐up pains) and calls are consistently of high quality, the result of fine‐tuning and expert maintenance. The phone service relies heavily on our robust network, which saw many improvements and upgrades over the last few years to support this new technology. VOIP was successfully delivered by a team of highly‐skilled IT professionals who worked tirelessly to ensure UNB has the best and most reliable phone system available. We were ably assisted by consultants from Bulletproof Solutions, a Fredericton company, and Cisco, the system vendor. We very much appreciate their guidance and support through this implementation. Operational results VOIP is integrated with connectEd, UNB’s new productivity environment consisting of email, calendaring, printing, and file sharing (and winner of the 2013 Macaulay‐O’Sullivan Administrative Service and Innovation Award!). This integration provides the university with a new directory system, which helps ITS support everything from identity management to remote configuration of lab computers, and which makes life easier for other users as well. In the VOIP system, the directory is used to find people, and to initiate calls with them; in the future, it will be possible to extend this functionality to launch video conferencing, messaging, email, or, of course, plain old fashioned voice, with either one or just about any number of participants. The initial implementation of VOIP was expected to result in immediate, direct savings to faculties and service units of 15% off the cost of providing standard telephone service. This was calculated taking into account repayment of capital costs to implement the system plus ongoing maintenance and support. However, I am very pleased to report the actual savings experienced by units are more like 18% on average‐‐the happy result of lower ongoing expenses than planned. After the capital cost of implementation is recovered, phone service costs will be reduced significantly further, passing on even more savings to individual units. The Fredericton campus is well and firmly on its way to ultimately realizing over $4 million in telephone service savings over the next ten years. Beyond the deskset One of the many advantages of operating a system like VOIP is that the university has more control over future costs and service growth and enhancements than would otherwise be the case. We already include voicemail in our service at no extra cost, plus call centers, automated phone‐answering services, voice‐to‐email, and so on. In the future we intend to add other services like conference bridging and a central fax server, as they become available and feasible (all without the need to charge HST, I might add, thus passing on further savings). We will also introduce ‘soft‐phones’, software installed on computers and/or hand‐held devices and used with a headset, meaning you can take your office phone anywhere you go. What’s more, our other campuses won’t have to reinvent the service when they wish to implement it—the Fredericton‐based system has more than enough horse‐power to meet the needs of the entire university—it was planned that way. Clearly, this investment in core technology is paying off in many ways, and will continue to do so for years to come.

October 2, 2013. Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS