University switches to VoIP phone system
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 02:10
After weeks of preparation, the University of Delaware switched its telephone system to a Voice over Internet Protocol service Sept. 30.
VoIP is a service that delivers telephone and multimedia services over internet protocol networks, such as the internet or an intranet, rather than over traditional public switch telephone networks, which change switches in phones, allowing a circuit to connect the phones for as long as the call lasts, according to the VoIP website.
The transition period to the new system, also known as the “cut over,” took place Monday and involved releasing all University of Delaware phone numbers from their Verizon Communications Inc. contracts. This was followed by the new telephone provider, Windstream Communications, claiming the numbers with new contracts, according to Chief Technology Officer Daniel Grim.
More than 5,500 phone numbers were transferred to Windstream in two hours, with the entire system becoming operational by 11:30 a.m., Grim said. The switch was initiated largely because the university did not want to continue to maintain the phone system’s large underground infrastructure, he said.
The infrastructure that supported phone communications is made up of thousands of wires, some of which are made of a pulp insulation, which is made from paper. If these wires are damaged or get wet, they will stop working, so making sure these cables remain undamaged is an expensive process, Grim said.
During the 1980s, the university began adding fiber optic cables to the system which not only deliver high quality services, but are also substantially more durable than the old insulation cables, Grim said.
“A large part of our motivation for the new system was to not have to maintain the cables, make the system more reliable and also to not have the liability that the cables will fail and need to be replaced at an exorbitant cost,” Grim said.
The new system not only operates on more durable cables, but also will save the university money over time. The initial investment for the new system was close to $3 million, Grim said.
“What we did was take that expense and advertise it over five years, so without considering what the interest is on the loan, we’re talking $600,000 plus per year,” Grim said. “Our internal charge for use of telephones is $15 a month doesn’t really bring in a whole lot more revenue than that, so after this five years we probably won’t do a whole lot better than break even. But, after that five years is up and all of the license cost and hardware cost have been paid off, our cost structure will go down significantly.”
Along with the new VoIP system, the university will be receiving new phones models. Seven different models have been introduced, each with unique capabilities. Grim said the more advanced models were given to those who use the phones more often or requested these models, while the basic models were given to those without the need for those features.