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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Telecommunications Upgrade Project – Phase 3 FAQ

My old phone works fine. Why is UW-IT replacing it?

While the current phone system is still very reliable, it is becoming more difficult and costly to maintain. UW-IT is migrating from the legacy phone system to the newer industry standard Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) method to deliver phone service. This requires a replacement of our customers’ phones.

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”. Simply put, it is a way to use the UW data network to deliver phone service rather than maintaining a separate phone network.

What is convergence?

Convergence is the ability to use the same connection in your office for both voice and data. A cable connects from the activated wall jack to the back of your phone. A second cable connects from the phone to your computer. UW-IT has optimized the network in buildings that fully support convergence to separate out the voice and data to ensure that your phone calls are not affected by your computer.

Can all phones be converted to converged VoIP?

No. Convergence requires category 5 cabling and Ethernet switches capable of supporting the service. UW-IT will determine the locations that are capable of supporting converged VoIP as part of the project.

Does convergence cause any limitations to my service?

The phones supported by UW-IT are capable of supporting gigabit Ethernet and the only noted limitation is that they do not support Jumbo Frames. This limitation will affect very few customers and the option must be enabled on each workstation for those who do use it. Please consult your system administrator if you are unsure if this will affect you.

Are my DIY switches supported?

VoIP requires a connection directly from the phone to the UW-IT maintained network switch. Plugging the phone(s) into your own switch is not supported.

Is VoIP service as reliable as the legacy service?

UW-IT has been deploying VoIP for over a decade and several thousand UW users are using it and are happy with the service. UW-IT has made a slow and deliberate migration from the legacy phone service to VoIP so that customer satisfaction could be ensured. This has been accomplished through: changes to our internal procedures to increase network uptime, deployment of UPS’s for up to 20 minutes of power backup for the network equipment, and the optimization of the network to prioritize voice traffic over other types of network traffic.

Who will pay for the upgrade?

UW-IT is covering the initial cost for the both the labor and the hardware required for the upgrade for those that have UW-IT supported data service. Those that have chosen to implement their own data network, will need to either pay to have it replaced with a UW-IT data network or will not be eligible for this upgrade.

Is analog phone service part of this project?

Currently analog lines that support FAX machines, modems and alarm lines are not going to be replaced.  Analog handset customers will be migrated to new VoIP handsets if the site is VoIP ready.  VoIP customers can also choose to migrate to a software phone (softphone) for use on their PC instead of a VoIP handset.  Sites that are not VoIP ready will remain on the older analog service.

Can I choose my phone?

Yes, you can choose from within the standard offerings. Currently we offer two sizes of phones with the option of an expansion module for additional buttons and Softphone. More information is located here: https://itconnect.uw.edu/connect/phones/service/#reference.

What can I expect?

About a month prior to the initial estimated conversion date, a technician will perform a site survey to identify any issues that will need to be addressed in order to replace the phones. This will be followed up by a visit from a UW-IT analyst who will work with you to select your phones and go over the mutually agreed upon schedule. UW-IT will make every effort to make this as painless and easy as possible during the transition. UW-IT will also work with your business unit to maintain your business operations during the work, with minimal interruptions. Following the telephone replacement, a representative will be available to answer questions and address any issues that may arise.

Will my phone work differently?

For the most part the phone will function in the same manner as prior to the replacement, however there may be slight changes to the button layout and look of the phone. There will be training materials provided to highlight the minor differences.

Can I move my own phone after it is converted to VoIP?

UW-IT does not officially support customers moving their own phones at this time due to location record information needed to support E911, which aids emergency responders in locating you during an emergency. UW-IT is not responsible for incidents that arise from moving phones and not contacting UW-IT.

How is UW-IT selecting the buildings?

The implementation phase is being carried out in concert with other technology refresh efforts, such as building cabling infrastructure and networking upgrades.  The goal is to have all end users migrated from the aging infrastructure during a three-year window.

The project is targeting locations that are ready to support VoIP technology with a high level of service, i.e., buildings that have the adequate space, power, HVAC, cabling, etc.

As the other refresh efforts work in parallel, a new set of buildings will be ready for the telecommunications upgrades the following year.

Can we reschedule the conversion date?

Customers will be allowed some reasonable flexibility in scheduling the date their communications equipment is being replaced, in order to work around special or day-to-day business needs. Once a site is identified for conversion, the upgrade needs to occur in a timely manner in order to complete the upgrade of all of our customers’ service.