Some 20,000 new phones later, Information Technology Services has nearly finished UNC-Chapel Hill’s transition to a Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system. This effort replaced a 30-year-old technology and saved more than $2 million a year.
Porting began in 2012
Carolina awarded the telecommunications voice services contract to Verizon Business on June 30, 2011. Following an initial ramp-up period and a somewhat painful lessons-learned period, porting began in June 2012 with the first port of about 3,000 spare phone numbers.
Sixteen ports later (ranging in size from 200 to 5,000 lines per port), ITS finished the initial and primary phase of this project—converting the majority of the University’s active campus phone lines from the old AT&T Centrex phone system to a Verizon Business VoIP system. ITS finished migrating roughly 20,000 phone lines from AT&T to Verizon in September 2015. That porting required mapping decades-old phone configurations and programming as well as replacing phones on desks, walls and in shared space.
Cheri Beasley, Customer Services Manager with ITS Communication Technologies, and Chad Ray, Transport Operations Manager with ITS Communication Technologies, have led the teams responsible for the VoIP project.
More work remains
“We are not yet done,” Beasley said. “After a short ‘catch our breath period,’ we spent the last seven months going back in primarily medical school space to replace Norstar Key Systems that had been left in place during the initial conversion. We will be rounding out these replacements in early May.”
“Contact Centers, the front-facing/customer-facing main phone lines to the University, are now front and center in our planning for the final phase of this very significant phone system conversion,” she said.
A few examples are the main numbers to Student Health Services, Student Accounts, Memorial Hall, Playmakers Theatre, Benefits, and the Athletics Ticket Office.
In recent months, ITS has spent a significant amount of time reviewing potential VoIP solutions for these very important phone applications.
“We are very excited at the potential we have for providing new and improved, as well as cost-effective solutions,” Beasley said. “We are participating in multiple overviews, pilots and ‘proof of concepts,’ and we are both confident and excited that we will have a good recommendation soon.”
UNC Healthcare opted for separate system
In parallel with the VoIP phone conversions, UNC Healthcare is actively disconnecting its remaining number base—about 10,000 phone numbers. UNC Healthcare has implemented a separate VoIP phone system that includes new phone numbers (984-974-XXXX). Some important phone numbers will not change—there is a tentative plan to port out roughly 500 of those (currently AT&T Centrex) phone lines so that they can ultimately be used with that new VoIP phone system.
Campus customers whose numbers were not migrated in the initial porting phase will be ported in these final phases, Beasley said.
“Considering the size and scope of the project, I believe both groups did an outstanding job in completing the projects phases, so far,” Ray said. “There were many hours of overtime spend on this and each employee who worked on this should be recognized for their efforts.”