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Project Planning Team

Executive Sponsor: Anne Milkovich, CIO

Project Sponsor: Victor Alatorre, Director of Infrastructure

Project Manager: Kevin Boldt, IS Technical Services Specialist

Technical Lead: George Paul, Telecommunications Services Senior

Team Members: Mary Hale, Dan Petersen, Erik May, Michelle Loker, Laura Knaapen

 Contact IT

  Hours: M-F 7:30AM - 4:30PM
  Phone: (920) 424-3020

Voice Over IP Project Frequently Asked Questions:

What is Voice over IP? Voice over IP (VoIP) is a methodology and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet. (1) To put it simply, currently our telephone system uses a dedicated set of wires for each telephone to connect to the phone company (AT&T). With a VoIP system, the phones connect to the data network in the same way as a desktop computer. Phones are all digital, and managed centrally. Our connection to the telephone provider is then simplified to a fiber optic cable, rather than thousands of copper wires running through manholes underground.

What is Centrex? Centrex is a portmanteau of central exchange, a kind of telephone exchange. Centrex is a PBX-like service providing switching at the central office instead of at the customer’s premises. Typically, the telephone company owns and manages all the communications equipment and software necessary to implement the Centrex service and then sells various services to the customer. (2) In short, Centrex is what runs the current University phone system. It is a service run by AT&T which provides telephone features such as voicemail, 4 digit (extension) dialing, call transfer, 3-way calling, and other features. There is no on-campus telephone switching equipment running this system, each and every one of over 2500 phones on campus has wires running directly to equipment at an AT&T facility.

Why now? The days of analog phone systems are ending. The State of Wisconsin is currently re-negotiating the telephone contract and as part of that process we expect to see ever-increasing prices for analog phone services such as Centrex. These services are based on very old technologies and equipment which is costly to maintain. Within a few years, the services on which we currently rely for basic telephone lines will no longer be available.

What will the cost be? The cost will depend on the type of phone needed. Basic service will be $10 per month. Special feature phones will be between $13-15 per month. Both will keep the unit cost close to what you are currently paying and under what you would be paying with the recent AT&T rate increase.

Will my current phone or answering machine work? No. All current telephones, answering machines, and other devices in use are analog and not compatible with the digital VoIP solution. If a special-purpose device requires an analog line, solutions will be available to either adapt to VoIP or continue paying (at an increased cost determined by state contract) for an analog line. All other phones will need to be replaced with digital phones.

When will this change take place? The beta test will occur in April. Based on the results of that test and the time it takes to update all building network switches, a deployment plan will be developed. Once the deployment plan is verified, the campus will be notified and we will keep the schedule updated on the project website. Ideally, the deployment will be completed by the end of 2017.

Will I still have the same telephone features I have now after the VoIP upgrade? Yes and you will also have access to additional features.

What are the new features? The new available features include speed dial, call display, distinctive ring, access voicemail from your email account, call history, voice mail indicator, searchable phone directory, and speaker phone.

Will my phone work during a power failure? Yes, for at least a limited duration. We were able to place all but nine buildings on the campus emergency generator grid. Even in those nine buildings (3rd Ave Grounds, Campus Center for Equity & Diversity, Ceramics, ERIC, MEC, Oviatt, Pollock, Radford, and Titan Stadium) the upgrades to the building network closets included provision of emergency battery backup power. While this battery backup power is not enough to maintain operation of your computer, it is enough to maintain operation of your phone. We expect the battery backup power to last approximately 30 minutes.

Does the VoIP system affect my computer? Yes and no. For those with a phone, it will be connected through your computer to the campus network. Others may select to use their computer as their phone. Whether you have a separate phone or not, VoIP will not affect the speed of your computer connection. For those with a phone, your computer does not need to be on for the phone to work.

Will campus phone numbers change? No, your campus phone number will remain the same.

Will we still be able to use 4-digit dialing on campus? Yes and no. Once the project is complete and all phones are on the VoIP system, 4-digit dialing will work. However, during the deployment process, while we have both VoIP and Centrix phones, 7-digit dialing will be necessary.

Will we still need to dial an access code before making off-campus calls? Yes and it will be 8 in all cases. No more trying to remember if the call is long distance or not.

Will training be provided or the new system? Yes. We will be preparing handouts, courses, and KnowledgeBase articles on the new system. Group and individual training sessions will be available. Training will be scheduled along with our deployment plan.

Will FAX machines and modems still work on the new system? Yes and no. FAX machines will need to remain on the Centrex analog system until we have reviewed and tested an appropriate solution.

Will cordless phone work with the new system? No, your existing cordless phone will not work with the new system. At this time there is no supported cordless option. The alternative to cordless phones is wireless headsets.

Will my wireless headset work with the new phone? Yes and no. We are in the process of researching which headsets work with our VoIP system. We will provide a list of recommended headsets as soon as our tests are complete.

Will I have voicemail? If you currently have voicemail or an answering machine, voicemail will automatically be actived.  If you currently do not have either, voicemail will not be activated.  If you should choose to want voicemail, you are able to do so by contacting the Help Desk @ 3020 and requesting activation.

My question is not on this list. Where do I go from here? Please email and we will respond as soon as possible, including adding the answer here.



(1) Wikipedia contributors. “Voice over IP.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Jul. 2016. Web. 6 Jul. 2016.
(2) Wikipedia contributors. “Centrex.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 6 Jul. 2016.