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Split screen of two photos. On the left, a woman smiles as she talks on her office phone. On the left, she holds a smartphone while working on a laptop.

The COVID-19 pandemic and shift to hybrid and remote working changed our relationships with our office phones. Call forwarding to another number was an option, but things got complicated if you wanted to use a landline and changed locations frequently or if you wanted to make a call using your office number.  

The University’s phone service is moving from Verizon to AT&T. When the contract ends in 2023, Verizon is discontinuing the service the University uses. This gave ITS Voice Services the opportunity to evaluate other providers, save money and provide additional features that support mobile and remote work settings.  

One of the new AT&T features is the option to use your office number on another device. A soft client or softphone, short for software telephone, is an application that enables users to make calls from their computer using a VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) service. You may be familiar with other softphone services like Google Voice, Skype or the Microsoft Teams call feature.

New choices 

The University’s new service with AT&T offers two options for softphones: Communicator basic and Communicator premium. All new phones include Communicator basic service, and premium service is available as an optional upgrade. 

Do not use softphones to dial emergency services (911). If you need to call 911, use your cell phone or landline. When you use your cell or landline, your phone number and location information is automatically sent to emergency services. This ensures your call is routed to your local emergency services and responders are dispatched to you quickly. 

Moving all the campus phones from Verizon to AT&T is a huge undertaking. So far, ITS has migrated nearly 14,000 of the total 17,000 phones in the project and the project team expects to complete all ports by early 2024.

ITS kicked off the migration in August 2020 by moving 7,500 nonworking numbers to the new phone system. In early May 2021, ITS started moving phone lines, by building, in groups of approximately 2,500. 

Migrating the phone service has multiple parts. Transferring the phone numbers from one service to another, also called porting, is a complicated process that is highly regulated by the FCC.

When everything goes smoothly, it takes 55 days to port a number. Then, the ITS Transport Operations team must go to each building, locate and remove old phones and install new ones.

Read about ITS’ latest migration and what’s involved in porting phones.

VPN (virtual private network) is not required to use either basic or premium softphone service. 

A man wearing glasses and computer headset sits at his desk. He looks at laptop screen, smiles while talking online.Basic softphone features 

Basic Communicator lets you use a cell phone or other landline phone to receive calls to and make calls from your office number. Route calls using software on your computer and use another phone, cell or landline, for handling call audio. This option requires both a computer and a phone to make and receive calls. 

To start using your softphone, first install the Communicator software. Then enable the Remote Office option on the Communicator software and enter the phone number for the cell or landline phone you’d like to use to handle the audio for your call. 

The Communicator software gives you the features of your office phone so you can dial numbers, transfer calls and hold conference calls.  

Premium softphone features 

Upgrading to premium service gives two additional options: 

  • Communicator Voice, which removes the requirement for an additional phone to make and receive phone calls. This means all you need is a computer with a microphone, such as a built-in laptop mic or USB headset to make and receive calls. No phone is required for this option. 
  • Clearspan Mobile, which lets you make and receive calls from your office number after installing an app on your smartphone. No computer is required for this option. 

Users can select one of these premium options free of charge. People who want both premium options will need to have their departments cover an additional monthly cost. 

Request an upgrade or get more help 

To request an upgrade, submit a help request to Voice Services at For more information about the cost of enabling both premium services, visit Voice Services — Rates. 

For training documents, frequently asked questions and more information about basic and premium softphone options, visit Voice Services — Basic and Premium Communicator Soft Client or the New and Enhanced Phone Services page. 

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