Virginia Tech’s new unified communications system, which will merge the university’s new campus-wide telephone network with its existing high-speed data network, will result in a much improved, easier to use, and more reliable communications environment for the campus community.

Project planning and the development of the integrated network infrastructure is under way. In December, the university announced a five-year, $8 million agreement with IBM’s Global Technology Services (GTS) group build and implement the new network — one that will replace the 25-year-old ROLM telephone network.

The new unified communications network will offer university faculty and staff numerous enhancements to the campus telephone system, including Caller ID, speakerphone, call history, call diversion to voice mail, and enhanced conferencing capabilities. Classic telephone features such as call forwarding, transfer, hold, and redial will be easier to use on the ‘smarter’ telephones.

In addition, the integration of campus voice and data networks will result in a new feature, unified messaging, which will allow users to access and review voice mail messages via their email account.

Project leaders in Virginia Tech’s Network Infrastructure and Services are also working closely with Virginia Tech Police and Emergency Management to leverage the new system to enhance campus safety and emergency notification..

Before the new system can be installed in any building, workers will conduct site surveys, and in some cases, install new cables, switches, or other network infrastructure before new phones can be installed in offices. The size and age of each building’s communications infrastructure will be assessed before an installation schedule is established for each building.

Following some pilot installation projects later this spring and summer, the first full-scale, building-wide installation projects are expected to begin this fall.

Project leaders expect the majority of building in Blacksburg and the National Capital Region will be completed by the end of 2014.

Network Infrastructure and Services will maintain a dedicated unified communications website to post all information related to the project, including installation schedule, user options, available training programs, and system capabilities. Information will also be available on Twitter (follow @vt_nis).

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

This article was written by Susan Brooker-Gross, director for policy and communications for Information Technology.
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