Technology News

Information Technology Services

Challenges:
Voice Services at UNCG has been 100%-user-funded for many years, both before & after it was transferred to ITS in the late 1990s. Few industries have seen more rapid changes in technology & business models in the past 15 years than has the voice services industry. ITS must operate a balanced-budget Voice Services auxiliary, in the midst of this rapid industry change. The Voice Services group has to provide services that are desired today by UNCG departments able & willing to pay for such service, while preparing to introduce services that may be desired tomorrow. The University also wants ITS to encourage all departments to remain accessible by voice to students, prospective students, community members, & others.

Currently:
Since 2009, some UNCG departments have responded to budget cuts by reducing their telephone budgets (one of the few options available to some departments), resulting in a reduction of faculty/staff lines from 3,361 to 2,762. The most significant challenge Voice Services faces in 2014 is to provide an enterprise-wide service where rates remain stable, even if the number of lines decreases. (The more voice services users you have, the lower the cost per user to provide the service.) A recent ITS survey of faculty/staff showed that two-thirds believe it’s “essential” to have the “ability for people to contact me directly by voice,” the “ability to make domestic long distance calls,” and “voicemail.”

Voice Services initiatives to make “essential” services as inexpensive as possible:
In 2009, UNCG began offering UNCG-provided VoIP services over our data network, using Cisco equipment & software. Savings from the VoIP transition, as well as from 2009-14 reductions in the number of ITS Voice Services staff, have permitted ITS to maintain steady rates, even as the number of lines decreased, & the voice auxiliary was being charged for non-voice purposes. For the next five years (2014-19), ITS’ goal has been to drive down rates significantly, while continuing to provide high-quality service.

Action:
Cost savings come from scale, and ITS will create scale through a managed services agreement with our IT colleagues at North Carolina State University. This venture also may lay the foundation for other UNC campuses to join. UNCG departments that purchase services from UNCG ITS will see their annual rates reduced by approximately $350,000, campus-wide, assuming everyone keeps the same lines; if users switch to lower-cost lines, total savings will be even higher. Assuming legal review has been completed by then, reductions will go into effect October 1, so charges for the first six months of 2014-15 will be split between the old & new rates. Rate reductions (shown below) are $8.34-$13.84 per phone per month. (The annualized net savings to the campus will be $124,000 lower, as long as divisions pay for institutional voice services – emergency phones & University switchboard – as will occur on a temporary basis starting in January.) Since analog service was offered as a transitional option in 2009, those users must plan to replace analog handsets with IP handsets or softphones prior to June 2019 (or a year after ITS sets a sundown). Otherwise, voice service users who keep the same service don’t need to make any changes.

 

Voice Services Rate Comparisons (pending legal review)
Service Current Line Count Current Monthly Rate New Monthly Rate, 10/1/14 Incr/(Decr) Ttl Annual Rate Reductions
VOIP IP 1,211 $27.34 $14.00 ($13.34) $193,856.88
IP Communicator(Incl License) 29 $29.84 $16.00 ($13.84) $4,816.32
VOIP Analog 1,351 $27.34 $19.00 ($8.34) $135,208.08
Centrex Digital 31 $27.34 $19.00 ($8.34) $3,102.48
Centrex Analog 133 $27.34 $19.00 ($8.34) $13,310.64
Total impact of rate reductions, if everyone keeps same lines $350,294.40