Twenty thousand phone lines to be replaced

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Photo Credit: Colin Zelinski | Daily Texan Staff

More than 20,000 campus phone landlines will be replaced on campus with Voice over Internet Protocol by spring 2015, as part of an initiative by the Information Technology Services office.

Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology that allows users to communicate through computer networks using both phone calls and text messages. Essentially, any device that can access the internet can be used to communicate as a traditional telephone would. Faculty and staff could integrate their work phone into their cell phone, allowing them to receive office calls on their mobile phone and also allowing them to see which line the call is coming from. 

The system in place now, though functional, needs to be refurbished, according to IT Service management coordinator John Lovelace.

“The existing phone system is still in service, but is over 20 years old and nearing the end of its useful life span,” Lovelace said.  “It relies on dedicated copper cabling running across campus, much of which would have to be relocated, at high costs, due to current and planned construction projects if it remained. The new [voice] system was purchased as a replacement.”

Black Box Network Services is the company contracted to implement the project. Lovelace said the current system costs $15 to $25 a month, while the new voice over system will cost around $5 per month.

Scheduled to be completed in spring 2015, the project has already begun and more than 2,500 lines have already been converted.

The project is broken down in four phases, each approximately six months in length, Lovelace said.

“Phones are currently being deployed to those buildings which are part of the first wave and the team is assessing buildings in the second wave to determine what will be required to convert the phones to the new service,” Lovelace said.

The same technology being implemented at the University is the service that companies such as Skype and Google Talk provide.

Lovelace said he thinks anyone who calls one of the new phones will not notice a difference unless they have a phone with high definition audio capabilities, including some smart phones. If both parties have this technology they’ll notice a better sound quality than before.

Journalism junior Ingrid Vasquez uses Skype when she works in the financial aid office to advise students. The office uses Skype daily in their advising process.

“We use Skype to [text] chat with actual counselors to get assistance with certain issues a student might have,” Vasquez said. “And that way they are able to continue doing their normal job, and don’t have to necessarily get up and leave their office to come and help us
in person.”