MYTHBUSTERS: VoIP on campus is bust

Many concerns are raised over the deployment of a VoIP solution at universities and colleges. These range from lack of reliability to high cost; from usability issues to quality of audio. I agree that VoIP might not be the best fit for every campus, but for the most part, it is an excellent solution.

A big part of how successful the VoIP deployment is depends on the design and pre-deployment approach. While a good design and proper pre-deployment assessment are crucial to any good VoIP rollout, they become even more important for campuses. Universities/Colleges have very specific requirements. They cater to a large and varied user base and serve across multiple branch locations. This means that the entire system has to be well-designed and properly evaluated, keeping these requirements in mind.

Many campuses today rely on POTS lines and infrastructure older than the professors that teach there. And this old telephony infrastructure is still costing them way more than a new VoIP system would. So the first thing that VoIP brings about is cost savings (whether it is because of much easier administration, calling plans or value addition for the new features).

So let us talk about these “new features”. Voicemail is a big one. Traditional phone systems sometimes require additional answering machines, or it is cumbersome to use, or they have to pay the phone company a mini-fortune for such features. VoIP means features like voicemail, caller-id, call forwarding, monitoring (or listening in), and even call center capability are built in. Even faxing! You can fax right to a user’s computer.

Security is another big feature. VoIP sends voice over the same network that handles data. Universities already put in a lot of effort into tightening the data network security. Securing VoIP is just an extension of that. VoIP also offers better network integration. With many universities now making I-phone a part of the course requirements (and even without an i-phone, what college student does not have an internet enabled phone today?), VoIP provides the capability to extend your university account to your phone. A unified account and unified communication – that’s the mantra that all campuses want to echo. With big names like UCSD, University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University etc joining the VoIP bandwagon, VoIP is becoming a vital part of the campus.

To me, the myth is BUSTED!

Have you seen VoIP on your campus? Any myths you’d like to bust/confirm here?

Ritu Maheshwari