March 8, 2022
Over the course of the next year, the campus phone system will be upgraded to a new next generation phone service that meets our campus communication and collaboration needs and further accelerates UMass Amherst’s digital transformation.
What are unified communications?
In a new unified communications environment, phone capabilities can be accessed from most devices anywhere and can seamlessly integrate with popular communication and collaboration technologies, such as Microsoft Teams. The features of the traditional desk phone, such as voicemail, are available from computers or mobile devices.
What is the timeline for the campus phone system upgrade?
We expect the campus to transition to a new phone system in 2022. Vendor selection was finalized in early 2022 and the implementation started in spring 2022. For the most recent updates, see the project page.
Why is this change happening now?
Our current telephone equipment is at the end of its useful life. Aging hardware must undergo an extensive upgrade in 2022 to maintain vendor support and ensure availability and reliability.
Remote work due to COVID has demonstrated that conventional telephone systems no longer provide the flexibility needed by our modern workforce when today’s softphones easily integrate with existing technologies such as Teams to provide maximum flexibility to “work from anywhere.”
Other benefits of this change:
- Ease of use: You can accept calls anywhere from any device with softphone functionality.
- Numerous additional features, including shared phone lines, multiline phones, contact centers, support for conference phones, and more.
- Softphones and cloud technologies are more reliable and resilient.
Who is affected by the change?
Members of the campus community and the larger community who utilize UMass Amherst’s voice services are affected by the change, including:
- Faculty, staff, and departments (campus phones)
- Students (residential technology, including wireless, emergency calling, etc.)
- Community (contact centers)
When and how will I be affected by this change?
Faculty and staff will switch from a regular desk phone to Microsoft Teams calling on your existing computer in 2022.
What is a softphone?
A softphone is a software program that allows you to make phone calls over the internet via a computer or smartphone rather than a specific physical hardware.
How do I prepare for the change?
Individual faculty and staff do not need to take any steps in preparation for this change. Departments will work with IT for special implementations such as call centers, caller menus, and other applications. Please follow our project page for updates as the project progresses.
Can I opt out of the unified communications service?
Because subscriptions are managed by departments, individual opt-outs are not possible. Please contact your NetCom representative for more information.
What happens to long-distance charges?
Domestic long-distance calls are included, while international calls are billed separately.
What equipment will I need?
We are still exploring a variety of equipment options, such as headsets and handsets. We will communicate more in the future with recommendations, supported options, and any related request processes.
Will IT collect old phones and other equipment?
Yes. Details will be communicated as they are finalized.
Will there be a charge for broken equipment?
No charges for broken equipment are expected at this time.
Will support documentation and training be available during the transition?
Yes. Both documentation as well as on-demand and instructor-led training will be available. The specific details will be communicated after the vendor is selected and the transition milestones are finalized.
Will there be opportunities to provide feedback?
More opportunities to exchange information and feedback will be available as the project progresses.