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5 Ways VoIP Can Help Focus Resources on Academic Pursuits

Jan 10, 2019, by Ben Fineman
Tags: Internet2 NET+, Recent Posts, Voice Over IP

Communications rose to the top of higher education’s list of priorities in 2018, fueled by an explosion of mobile BYOD users, the demand for internal and external collaboration, and a growing need for cost control.

Internet2 members are noting that cloud-based Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions help advance collaboration for users while also allowing the enterprise to shift operational resources to more strategic research and scholarship priorities. 

VoIP is core to the future of collaboration.
Most technology experts and analysts have clearly identified VoIP technology as being core to the future of collaboration for higher education, delivering scalability, advanced capabilities and cost-effectiveness that traditional onsite PBX systems cannot.

Internet2 member institutions created the NET+ SIP Services Program to leverage the collective power of U.S. higher education to create a tailored VoIP solution that helps institutions drive a successful conversion to this better-yielding technology. 

In addition to the technology and terms customizations of the NET+ SIP Service, the program is governed by a Program Advisory Group (PAG), who keeps their finger on the pulse of the service and provider relationship  — continuing to inform the service development roadmap for the evolving needs of the academic enterprise.
  1. Grow strategic capacity by reducing hardware, maintenance, IT support and upgrades. The day-to-day demands of running a college or university are challenging enough; adding the burden of monitoring, maintaining and repairing an aging onsite phone system may be more than your staff can — or should — accommodate. A hosted VoIP system, on the other hand, requires minimal IT involvement. It integrates fully with the existing infrastructure, and on a local level, features handsets, gateways and other equipment with easy-to-use “plug and play” functionality that can be managed by non-technical personnel. That means resources can be deployed in a more strategic and valuable way.
  2. Leverage on-demand scalability for new locations, users and requirements. Growth — how much and how fast — is an important issue for any institution, and the scalability of communications systems are crucial as the size of user communities and campuses increases. Unlike an onsite analog system, VoIP technology offers built-in flexibility by design. With a hosted VoIP solution, new multi-campus locations, users and services can be added on-demand, an “organic” approach to growth that never results in too much, or not enough, capability at any given time.
  3. Reduce cost and operational complexity with centralized call management. VoIP frees institutions from the need to purchase, upgrade and maintain system hardware and software required for on-premise self-management. Moreover, a centralized solution consolidates services for multiple campuses, while giving each location a new ability to aggregate SIP trunks, automatically routing calls for increased availability and cost-savings. In general, centralizing the management of communications systems has far-reaching benefits, including significant cost reduction and a simplified application platform.
  4. Accelerate connected collaboration with student, faculty and staff mobility. As learning styles evolve and the educational experience extends beyond the physical campus, colleges and universities are seeing a growing need for communications systems that support more widely distributed and mobilized users. VoIP advances connected collaboration by allowing users to take or make phone calls from virtually any location with an internet-connected device. Moreover, a feature like “find me, follow me” lets students, faculty and staff move freely between offices, vehicles and residences without interfering with their ability to communicate and collaborate.
  5. Full integration with existing institutional business applications. Reinventing an institution’s applications portfolio is costly and time-consuming — and with a VoIP system, there’s no need to. Hosted VoIP systems offer open APIs that work seamlessly with the technologies your campuses are using now, including business productivity software such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google G-Suite. Integration with a mass notification solution enables staff to easily and quickly send vital multi-modal messages in real-time across a wide range of channels and devices.