University upgrading telephone, e-mail systems

Telephone above resembles standard model to be provided by university at no additional charge. Photo courtesy of Information Technology Services
PULLMAN – Washington State University plans to upgrade its telephone system over the next 18 months and is initiating an e-mail system upgrade with anticipated completion of the e-mail system migration by the end of 2010 or early 2011.
At an open forum held Wednesday, President Elson S. Floyd; Viji Murali, vice president for information services and chief information officer; and Joan King, chief university budget officer, discussed the university’s plan to use some money saved through lower energy costs last fiscal year to help fund the one-time costs of making the transition to Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology for the university’s phone systems.
“It is clear to me and to others that we have to do something about our antiquated phone system,” Floyd said. “What made sense 10 or 15 years ago doesn’t make sense today.”
Information about the project – including the transition plan, pictures of expected available phones, and frequently asked questions – is available at
VoIP on single network
VoIP uses the Ethernet network to handle telephone calls, and can merge voice and data protocols onto a single network. The new service will increase flexibility and reliability of phone service, and simplify billing for university departments.
Costs for telephone service and data transmission will be treated as a utility (e.g. electricity, water) and will be paid centrally. Individual units still will be responsible for paying for long-distance.
Basic phones at no cost
The basic phones will be provided at no cost to a department or unit. Departments wishing to have upgraded phones will pay a one-time cost of the difference between the basic and upgraded phone.
Murali said the changeover to the new phone system would be made on a building-by-building basis, and would likely be completed by early 2012. Those on the Pullman campus with 335 extensions would retain their current phone numbers; there may be changes to numbers with 333 extensions. Five-digit dialing for on-campus numbers will continue with the new system.
Vancouver, Spokane VoIP complete
Murali said that the transition to VoIP phone technology has already been completed on the Vancouver and Spokane campuses; the Tri-Cities campus is in the midst of making the change.
Exchange 2010 update
As for e-mail, the university will be moving from Microsoft Exchange 2003, its current program, to Microsoft Exchange 2010. The new program will have enhanced archiving capability to better allow the university to meet the state’s current e-mail archiving requirements.
The new system has other upgraded features, but most users won’t notice a significant change in how their e-mail operates, said Arlo Clizer, director of operations for Information Technology Services. He said that if all goes as planned, ITS expects to begin moving some mailboxes to the new system by the end of 2010.