VoIP Systems

UMass Trusts in VOIP

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is teaming up with Cedar Point Communications Inc. to deploy VOIP services to 30,000 students, faculty, and staff throughout the entire university campus. (See Cedar Point Gets UMass Contract.)

The campus VOIP project is notable in light of the findings of a recent survey that found that 92 percent of all technology professionals from college campuses do not trust VOIP vendors. (See Survey: Colleges Don't Trust VOIP Vendors .)

In that survey, conducted by The Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA) , the key finding was that most of the professionals surveyed felt that vendors frequently over-hyped the benefits of VOIP technology and downplayed the costs involved in deploying it.

UMass however, feels differently.

"I suspect that some of the early VOIP entries were part of that survey," says Dan Blanchard, the school's associate chief information officer. "You need to be a little careful, obviously, when deploying new technologies, but voice in an IP environment is where we're headed."

It's important to note that Blanchard's optimism for VOIP was shared by the surveyed technology professionals, who trust the technology more than they trust the purveyors of it. They were particularly interested in unified messaging and emergency notification, a capability Blanchard says UMass is particularly keen on.

Cedar Point will be deploying its Safari C3 Multimedia Switching System on UMass's campus, starting with student residence halls. Aside from the advanced features that come with a VOIP system, UMass is also counting on significant cost reductions that will come from the technology's deployment.

Cedar Point founder and executive vice president of business development George Kassas claims the Safari C3 can cut operational expenditures by up to 80 percent. Part of this is due to the integration of many core functions into one box, which reduces the amount of equipment deployed and simplifies maintenance and management.

Cedar Point and UMass say, however, that it's too early to estimate how much the university will save with its VOIP deployment.

Cedar Point has done college campus deployments in the past at smaller, lesser-known institutions such as Plymouth State University. This is its first full campus-wide deployment.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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