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New VoIP Phones Showcase UBIT's Vision for Voice

By Blake Cooper

Published October 17, 2014

Beginning Fall 2014, new model VoIP phones are available for UB departments by request from UBIT.

Blake Cooper (UB Student, Class of 2016) is originally from Canandaigua, NY. He is studying Spanish, Linguistics and Comparative Literature, and beginning work on translating an Argentinian novel into English.

Communication Systems Engineer Thomas Jauch of Network and Classroom Services (NCS), part of the VPCIO’s area and UB Information Technology, spoke with UBIT News about the new phones, which he said offer improved sound quality and a variety of cutting-edge communication features.

The new models offer different options to meet individual needs, all while maintaining the same service and features UB staff and faculty currently use. New features represent the increasingly powerful capabilities of communication over networks, in line with what Tom calls UBIT’s “vision for voice.”

Why the Change?

Cisco's 7821 model will be offered as an eventual replacement for the 7942G models currently in use.

Cisco's 7821 model will be offered as an eventual replacement for the 7942G models currently in use. The upgrade comes after a February 2014 announcement by Cisco that they will discontinue production of the 7900 model phones currently widely-used on campus. “Cisco assures us the old models will continue to be supported, and will continue to work,” Tom told us. “But we need to look ahead to a day when we won’t be able to fill new requests for the 7900 models.”

Since Cisco’s announcement, the NCS Voice team has been hard at work, researching and eventually narrowing down the options to six phone models that can fit university needs. These phones are still being tested rigorously, and Tom expects the new models to be available by request during October 2014.

Departments will have the option of requesting new model phones for installations when they become available for a fee, but can also request the current 7900 models while supplies last. When replace an existing 7900 phone, the licensing cost will be waived and only the cost of the phone will be charged (learn more under Cost of Services).  

What's Different?

A variety of new phone models will be available, designed to cater to staff needs.

A variety of new phone models will be available, designed to cater to staff needs.

Each new phone will provide the same reliable calling features that UB staff and faculty are accustomed to. Some models feature slightly different button arrangements, but Tom believes the interface and functionality will be intuitive to anyone who’s used the current 7900 model phones.

“At the very minimum, any departments replacing current phones will get like-for-like features,” Tom said. “But now, we’re finally able to offer added features that customize the user experience in a really beneficial way.”

New features vary widely by model, from very simple phones to models featuring USB and Bluetooth connectivity, color screens and hardware to accommodate video conferencing. Enhanced Bluetooth connectivity makes it possible to sync a wireless Bluetooth headset, which has already benefited one UB employee.

“We received a request from someone with difficulty hearing,” Tom told us. “Her hearing assistance device worked via Bluetooth, so even though it was still untested, we set up one of the new phones for her to try. She said it was like night and day.”

As new phone models become available, UB staff and faculty will be able to view and compare features on the UBIT website. With a variety of new phones offering features for every person, “UBIT’s vision for voice” is a landscape with more flexibility, better options and the power to keep the conversation going as communications technology advances ever farther into the future.