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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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June 09, 2005
ITS and HickoryTech Ready MSU for the VoIP Experience

Technicians are currently surveying offices throughout the university to determine cabling needs and will soon be installing new Voice-over (VoIP) phones. The Cisco AVVID (Architecture for Voice, Video and Integrated Data) network will gradually replace the current Centrex environment.

Internet protocol (IP) telephony is rapidly revolutionizing the world of enterprise communications. It combines voice and data networks to deliver information far more efficiently than the traditional approach.

This change will give us the ability to manage our phone system. It will enable us to have access to more features and more applications. Most importantly, the upgrade to MSU's computer network will allow for more reliability and improved performance.

The new system will help control costs as the number of lines rented through HickoryTech will be greatly reduced. By sharing a common infrastructure, voice and data cabling and relocation charges will also be lowered. Currently with Centrex phone system, adding features such as call waiting, voice mail, callerID or call forwarding requires contacting a HickoryTech representative and paying for both the feature(s) and for the feature to be added. With the new system, these types of functions are done internally and there is no additional cost.

Employees will also be able to configure various features (i.e., speed dial) directly on the phone.

Once the system has been fully deployed and proven stable, new services, such as video calls, will be available. Unified messaging, which makes it possible to access voice, fax and e-mail from one device, will also be a reality.

The new system will provide a much more enhanced service for call centers (i.e., The Hub or any department that takes a large number of calls). The phone system will notify the caller how long the wait is and will inform call centre employees how many callers are waiting on hold. Calls will only be transferred to extensions that are free.

The convergence of the voice and data networks will require a major upgrade to the existing data network infrastructure, which will be done ahead of the phone deployments in buildings. This will require temporary outages in buildings as network switch equipment is changed. Employees within buildings will be notified of when outages will occur.

Shannon Jeffries is working with HickoryTech and the ITS training to ensure different forms of training are provided to the MSU community.

Every attempt is being made to ensure all faculty and staff will retain the last four digits of their current number as an extension. Placing an internal on-campus call, or call to SCC, will remain the same—by dialing the last four digits of the person's extension.

The cut-over to the new phones is expected to take place starting in July and progressing through September. Employees will have two phones for a few days before phones will be cut over. At that point no dial tone will be available on the old Centrex phones. After cutover, old Centrex phones will be collected. ITS encourages everyone to begin using their new phones upon installation. You can use these phone to place calls both on campus, and off-campus or long-distance calls to start sampling the VoIP experience!