VoIP shifts balance of power
New contact center technology introduces a different legacy... [more]
A study in telephony evolution
A growing student body with an expanding campus complex demands
converged IP telephony system.
As the vice president for information systems and business services at
St. Petersburg College in southwest Florida, Conferlete Carney is
actively involved in the school's evolution. Since 1927, the two-year
junior college has grown into a full-fledged, four-year academic
institution, serving more than 17,000 students from 10 sites in the
Tampa Bay area.
Yet, the college's migration to four-year status is not the only
evolutionary process Carney has witnessed. The college has begun a
four-phase program to move from its traditional time-division
multiplexing (TDM)-based telephony system into voice over Internet
protocol (VoIP), an environment that delivers voice, data and video
communications over a single converged network.
"Our decision," Carney says, "was based on the physical layout of our
10 campuses, a major expansion at our Seminole site, the
education-specific features that voice over IP can deliver and
analyzing the management costs of using just one network to handle
both voice and data traffic. We wanted to avoid further TDM
The move to VoIP was motivated by a significant reduction in the time
and money spent in adding, removing and changing phone numbers. "Just
the simplification of managing the voice network is enough reason to
go to IP telephony. In a converged environment, a telephone can be
plugged into the network anywhere on campus and keep the same phone
number," explains Carney.
The VoIP network also increases the school's capacity to handle future
voice and data traffic, and facilitates several advanced applications
it plans to integrate into its network. For example, unified messaging
can deliver messages through multiple media simultaneously, including
wireless, e-mail and traditional voice mail.
Through another application-E911-campus security personnel are
instantly notified, and can conference into the call whenever someone
on campus calls a local 911 agency. Campus security then works with
local police, fire and other emergency services so that an incident is
addressed promptly and correctly.
When evaluating each VoIP vendor, Carney and his staff weighed the
interoperability factor, whether the VoIP platform would be able to
operate reliably on the college's data network, comprised primarily of
both Cisco and Extreme Networks routers and switches. "We surmised
that NEC's VoIP products were engineered to work in an open
environment, which enables them to work successfully in virtually any
St. Petersburg College started the upgrade process by installing NEC's
NEAX 2400 IPXs at three of its 10 sites, first deploying in strategic
locations, such as remote offices and satellite facilities. Other
locations are still using traditional circuit-switched telephony until
the evolution is complete next year.
"The IPXs are unique in that they allow us to deploy both VoIP and TDM
telephony, in any combination, where we need it," Carney says. "As we
bring more of our campus toward this converged environment, the IPXs
enable us to deliver more VoIP without disrupting the network."
The next challenge was the migration of some 2,000 legacy telephones
into IP telephony instruments, capable of handling both existing and
future needs. "With some VoIP telephones costing in the neighborhood
of $700 per unit, a total replacement of our instruments was
economically unrealistic," says Jeff Rohrs, telecommunications manager
at the college. "NEC provided us with IP adapters that plug into each
phone, providing the IP connection for each unit, and they work just
as well in TDM environments."
When it completes its evolution, St. Petersburg College will have a
total VoIP network with IP telephones, soft phones that are installed
on desktop and laptop computers, and wireless converged devices that
deliver both voice and data connectivity enterprise-wide-without
disrupting the current communications system.
For more information from NEC: