VoIP: Frequently Asked Questions
With the widespread use of cell phones and the ubiquitous nature of the Internet, the technology used for voice services has evolved past the level that Centrex, our current phone system, can support. The Centrex system uses a dedicated network to deliver telephone calls and has limited functionality. The system relies on traditional telephone connections into Verizon’s central office and requires a specialized skillset to maintain an aging telephone system infrastructure.
The University of Rhode Island is upgrading its phone service by moving away from Centrex to a new technology that, once fully deployed, will enable users to control their own communications. The technology is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). It uses our computer network infrastructure and protocols to transmit and receive phone calls. It also allows traditional phone service to expand and integrate into other computer-based services such as email, Web dialing, and video conferencing. In addition, VoIP provides call routing flexibility to merge your desk phone with your cell phone, your home phone, or virtually any acceptable communications method that provides value to the users of our phone system.
Questions About The New Phone On Your Desk
My old phone works fine – why change?
Your new phone is part of a technology upgrade that will bring the University community increased productivity and improved quality while reducing cost. The new system provides a foundation that offers the same features to which callers are accustomed, and also supports advanced features that provide more flexibility in how you can communicate more effectively.
How much are the new phones going to cost my department?
You will receive a new phone with features comparable to your old phone at no cost to your department! Furthermore, because we are using a completely new business model for phone services, the new phones – much like desktop computers – will become the property and responsibility of your department. At some point, your department may decide they don’t want a physical phone, but would prefer to take phone calls on computers using a headset and software. With this system, that is possible!
The monthly cost for phone service was lowered on July 1, 2011 in anticipation of the new phone deployment. Overall, the new phone plan saves URI $.75 million per year.
What is different about the new phones?
Unlike the old Centrex phones being replaced, your new phone uses the same network as your computer. In fact, in the typical installation, your PC or Mac will plug into the back of your phone and your phone will plug into the data network. The new phone system uses a technology called “Voice over Internet Protocol” or VoIP to route calls over the data network. Call quality will noticeably improve between campus VoIP users.
Will my phone service be interrupted during installation?
No. For several days, both your old phone and your new phone will work to give you time to familiarize yourself with your new phone’s features. Incoming off-campus calls will continue to come to your old phone during that time. After a few days, Verizon will switch service to your new phone and cut service to your old one. A brief interruption in network service may occur during this process.
What is my role during the transition?
During the transition, while you have both phones working, it would be worthwhile for you to learn how to use your new phone and explore its advanced features. This may require some patience and time, but ultimately the advanced features your phone offers will save you time and save your department money. The first thing to do is set up your new voicemail following the instructions provided on a separate card.
If I have a question, where do I go?
Your supervisor or departmental designee should be your first point of contact. Your phone installation includes a Quick Reference Guide and instructions for setting up and using voicemail. Most phones have a comprehensive Help feature built right in.
Our Website, web.uri.edu/its/voip, has details on the migration process, complete user guides, additional Quick Reference Guides, future features, online tutorials, the various VoIP phone models and upgrade options, monthly rates, and more. In addition, once your department has the new phones, you can arrange class instruction if you would find that helpful.
For immediate help:
Contact the Help Desk at 874-HELP (874-4357).