July 30, 2010
By Karen Heiber
The recent decommissioning of the university’s 25-year-old Nortel telephone switching equipment marks the end of an era and a major milestone in the university’s transition to “voice over Internet Protocol” (VoIP) telephone service.
The old Nortel M1-81C system was installed in 1984 and occupied 900 sq. ft. in the basement of the Murray Building. On April 30, the computerized switchboard, or “switch,” routed its last phone call, replaced by new equipment that provides more functionality and requires a fraction of the space and electricity.
“The decommissioning is part of a project to upgrade the university’s telephone service to voice over Internet Protocol,” said Ed Pokraka, director of Information Technology Services (ITS). “VoiP uses the campus network – the same network that provides internet, email and videoconferencing services for the campus – to deliver telephone services.”
ITS installed the university’s first VoIP switch and telephones in 2003 in the kinesiology building. There are now 3,700 VoIP phones on campus.
“Upgrading to VoIP before the analog technology becomes totally obsolete saves the university money,” said Pokraka. The university will have only one network to maintain, he says, a network that makes it easy to add, move or change phones. ITS will be using cost savings from decommissioning the Nortel switch to help fund the replacement of the university’s remaining 2,600 analog phones over the next three to four years.
“The integration of telephone and computer technology is a major development in the evolution of the automated and mobile workplace,” said Pokraka, who pointed to one particular benefit of the new system – the ability to listen and reply to voicemail using email.
Office of Communications, University of Saskatchewan