Cambridge to ring the changes

Alys Brown 20 January 2008

Cambridge University has announced a massive overhaul of its communication facilities.

The university is planning to install 20,000 voice-over internet telephone handsets in a multimillion-pound deal with BT, Cisco and the university’s IT consultancy supplier PTS Consulting.

The handsets will allow both standard and VoIP calls. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, that is, phone service over the Internet. In general, VoIP is cheaper than a phone service operating through traditional sources. This is partly due to using a single network to carry voice and data, which is more cost-effective.

The new system will allow students to collaborate in new and more innovative ways, using instant messaging, voice emails and video-streaming. Students and staff will be able

to share ideas in real time from anywhere in the world, which BT claims will increase the quality of education and research.

It is hoped that the new facilities will also make it easier for academics to collaborate with peers on other parts of the country as the 18 month project will cover 200 institutions around the UK, serving 17,000 users.

The technology could also be used for all-day conferences and has the potential for video-streaming to be added.

Networking solutions provider Cisco says that it is proud that its technology will “ensure the University remains a globally-focused, student-centric institution well into the future.”

Ian Lewis, Director of University Computing Services at Cambridge, said: “As one of the world’s leading universities, Cambridge is keen to attract and retain the very best students and researchers. Part of that involves providing thoroughly modern facilities that reflect our forward-looking relationship with technology.”

The Universities of Northumbria, Dundee and Edinburgh have already made the transition to internet telephony.

Alys Brown