RMIT goes VoIP

RMIT University in Melbourne has adopted a new IP communications system for students and staff.

RMIT University in Melbourne constantly faces the challenge of providing a communications and multimedia service to 3500 staff members and more than 60,000 university students. This is no easy job. Such a network must keep all staff connected and communicating with a complex telephone system and updated computer technology for conferencing and communicating no matter where they are on campus.

In order to manage and overcome this challenge, the university turned to a solution from Nortel, a communications company for enterprise networking and service providing. The company has thus begun laying the foundation of a multi-million dollar, campus-wide unified communications and multimedia network.

The new network will be built around Nortel’s Communication Server (CS) 1000 IP PBX serving 7000 endpoints and 5000 Nortel 1140e IP handsets. The CS 1000s will be installed across RMIT University’s three main campuses. Other components will include Nortel’s MCS 5100 for multimedia conferencing and Nortel Contact Centre 6.0 for an IP-based help desk infrastructure. Nortel will also provide maintenance, integration and network optimisation from the Nortel Global Services portfolio.

This technology has been successfully implemented at Macquarie University, The University of Western Sydney, VERNet, the University of Tsukuba in Japan, and the China University of Petroleum.

The system has brought about positive results from the outset: phone number portability to keep staff connected; integration with desktop <0x2018>soft phones’ to make communication possible without physical handsets; along with voice and videoconferencing from desktop and laptop computers. All of these functions can be completed anywhere, at anytime, on campus.

This new network will be implemented in various stages over the next two years. The first stage is the installation of 5000 Nortel IP telephony handsets to faculty and administration staff, currently underway. There is also hope of desktop videoconferencing and unified communications, as RMIT University runs a trial of Nortel’s Multimedia Communications Server (MCS). Nortel and its channel partner, Commander Australia, are also involved in managing network design and implementation.

“The overall investment includes upgrading the network infrastructure, various campus facilities and other related services. Our aim with this project is to keep the university well ahead of the curve for the new generation of technology savvy students, and to support innovation in teaching, learning and research,” said Allan Morris, executive director, IT Services, from the university.

“With regards to the network component of this upgrade, we were not just looking at the technology, but the application of the technology, especially how it can change the delivery model for teaching and research,” Morris added.

“For example, we’re currently trialling Nortel’s MCS unified communications product to determine the impact of click-to-call and instant desktop messaging on staff working across multiple decentralised campuses, and how it might change the way they work. Just like email changed behaviour in the workplace, we are keen to see the effects that collaboration, presence and other technologies can have on workplace behaviour and productivity, and what new opportunities they present.”

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