In light of budget cuts across the University, Information Technology Services is creating an option for academic departments to save money on their phone lines.
At the end of September, ITS will begin a two-year transition plan to a broadband-based telephone service, much like Skype or Vonage.
Michael Barker, chief technology officer for ITS, said the new system is not currently supported by UNC’s telephone provider, AT&T, and that ITS is in negotiations with Verizon, which supports the service.
ITS officials said the new service will first be tested out internally in the ITS department, which will begin offering the option to other departments after it has worked out the kinks.
“During that time, we will be replacing standard telephone sets with voice over IP service,” said Ramon Padilla, associate vice chancellor of ITS.
Padilla said switching to this new service could save each department a significant amount of money that could be spent on academic programming.
Barker said the amount of money expected to be saved is hard to project, and depends on which of the service’s features department leaders want. They include web conference technology and automatic call trees, among others.
He added that the project will only begin to produce savings for the departments after three years of implementation.
“It will be cost-neutral over the first three years until we’ve paid off the handsets,” Barker said.
Barker said the new handsets range in price from $110 to $300, depending on the number of lines the department has.
“Seventy-five percent of the phones will be the $110 variety and the rest will range up to $300,” he said.
Each department with landlines in offices must pay the bills out of their individual budgets.
Some department heads said they would love to have a lower phone bill.
Beverly Taylor, chairwoman of the English and comparative literature department, said her department could use the money saved by a lower phone bill for something that benefits students directly.
“It would be most welcome if we could save money on our phones,” she said.
The initiative is still in its early stages and departments have not been formally notified of the new initiative.
“Right now, we are in the phases for what the roll out and scheduling will be,” Barker said. “Once we figure this out, we will start scheduling departments.”
Barker said the project will be executed in phases by building and floors within each building.
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