Multi-year VoIP migration project wraps up, converting 13,000 Bell Centrex phone lines

Published on: December 15, 2020

Voip InfographicIn November 2020, the multi-year, University-wide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) migration project wrapped up after reaching its goal to convert more than 13,000 Bell Centrex phones to VoIP.

Information Technology Services’ (ITS) Telecommunications unit, within the Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) group, was responsible for this project and offers on-going support and resources for University of Toronto (U of T) staff using VoIP.

What is VoIP?
VoIP is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a network connection instead of an analog telephone line.

What are the key benefits?

  • Costs savings: Departments can save anywhere from 30 to 50 per cent, depending on the size of their department (versus the cost of using and maintaining legacy analog phone and voicemail service). Also, there are no long-distance charges on calls made within Canada and the United States. Overall, since beginning VoIP migration in 2017, U of T phone costs have decreased by nearly 50 per cent.
  • Remote work: Users are able to make and receive calls from/to their U of T phone number using the VoIP Communicator client while working remotely. VoIP also offers additional communications tools useful for remote working, such as teleconference bridge calls, receiving voicemail messages as email attachments and the ability to search for U of T staff by typing names in the soft client directory or phone set.
  • Simplified system: All of the features that were available with Bell Centrex services have been retained with the VoIP service, including five-digit dialling. In addition, there is no need to dial “9” first for outbound calls and no need for a corded “desktop” phone and other hardware associated with traditional phone lines.

VoIP during COVID-19
The sudden pivot to working remotely made it easier for those who had already migrated their phones to VoIP, allowing them to continue to make and receive work calls from home. This efficiency prompted a number of departments to accelerate their migration plans so that staff and faculty could use the VoIP solution remotely via the Communicator software client.

Collaboration is key
One early adopter was the Faculty of Medicine department, who initiated the process in September 2018. The Faculty of Medicine’s IT Group worked with the Telecommunications team on devising a project plan. It included information sessions for users explaining benefits and use cases and providing “how-to” guides as well as a direct line to the Telecommunications department for support. This project resulted in approximately 900 lines converted between February 2019 and December 2019.

“We’re creatures of habit. For the most part, we love routine and procedure so launching a new technology at the University is always a challenge,” said Deborah Fong, project manager at the Faculty of Medicine. “With so many VoIP options available, the Faculty of Medicine decided that the easiest transition for our users is to replace a physical analog phone with a physical VoIP phone. The Telecommunications group were great collaborators and were instrumental on the success of this project.”

More info: