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UIC Shifting to a Sustainable Voice Communication System

zoom meeting image for decoration only

As part of its commitment to sustainability and efficiency, UIC is undergoing a significant transformation in its communication infrastructure. The university is transitioning from traditional hardware-based telephones to a more feature-rich, flexible, and eco-friendly communication system provided through software phones, more commonly known as softphones. Softphones enable individuals to make and receive telephone calls using a computer or smartphone with internet access.

What is happening? Heading link

Technology Solutions is upgrading the university’s telephone service to Zoom Phone – a cloud-based softphone that combines traditional telephone service with the Zoom platform used for meetings. This change does not impact the phone service currently provided to UIHealth.

The transition started this Fall with a pilot group, Division of Specialized Care for Children, UIC Human Resources, and Technology Solutions, marking a crucial step towards a greener campus. The pilot group’s purpose is to test Zoom Phone and identify gaps to enable smoother transitions for other units. Other targeted pilot groups, including college and department IT professionals, will be added in the coming months. The full transition to Zoom Phone is expected to take two years.

The pilot groups are expected to complete testing by Spring 2024 with additional select units scheduled for transition through early 2025. Technology Solutions will be providing units with a checklist to ensure your unit is ready for migration and will work closely with your unit to ensure a seamless and successful transition.

Why is this change happening? Heading link

woman on a internet call using computer

Migrating to Zoom Phone supports the university’s mission to modernize campus infrastructure and enhance services. It will create a more efficient, flexible, and integrated communications experience on campus along with the following benefits:

  • Unified Communications
    Consolidates the university’s telephone infrastructure and simplifies the telephone experience for students, instructors, and staff. Individuals can easily switch between voice calls, video calls, and messaging within the same platform, streamlining communication and enhancing collaboration.
  • Mobility & Flexibility
    Having access to a physical phone is no longer required. With Zoom Phone, individuals can make and receive calls from anywhere using a mobile device or a computer. In cases where a more traditional handset may be required, Zoom phone also supports a range of handsets.
  • Scalability
    Zoom Phone is highly scalable, enabling staff to add or remove phone lines easily as needs evolve. 
  • Cost Savings
    Provides cost savings benefit by eliminating the need for separate phone systems and centralizing support and administration.
  • Integrates Seamlessly
    Zoom ingrates with a variety of applications and tools seamlessly such as Blackboard, Outlook, Teams and more.

When is this happening? Heading link

Technology Solutions began work on the Zoom Phone transition in Summer 2023, testing the service internally and partnering with UIC Human Resources and UIC Division of Specialized Care for Children to test and collect feedback this fall before expanding to other departments. UIC’s full transition is expected to take a 1 to 2-year period.

The timeline below reflects dates and  estimates and will be updated as new details emerge.

 Cloud Voice Timeline:

  • Kickoff project                                                    March 2023 – Finished
  • Develop Plan, building out service                 Summer 2023 -Ongoing
  • Build infrastructure                                           Summer 2023 – Ongoing
  • Transition pilot groups                                     Fall 2023 (Estimated Start)
  • Transition the remaining campus                  Spring 2024 (Estimated Start)
  • Completion of Project                                       April 2025 (Estimated End)

Migrating to Zoom Phone will unify telecommunications systems, consolidate and streamline administrative support, and transform how we communicate at UIC using modern cloud-based technology and infrastructure.

What do I need to know? Heading link

man using headset and waving at computer during call

While the project is ongoing, it’s essential to understand what this change means for both staff and students. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Migration will occur in phases
    The migration to Zoom Phones will occur in phases over a two-year period. Departments will be informed of their specific migration date as the project progresses. This phased approach ensures a smooth transition with minimal disruption to university operations.
  • New phone requests will be fulfilled with Cisco Jabber Softphones starting October 1
    On October 1 2023, the Technology Solutions will begin providing Cisco Jabber softphones as the primary communication tool for new phone requests until your unit has transitioned to Zoom Phone. While not as powerful as Zoom Phone, Jabber softphone is a versatile solution that enables voice and video communication through a computer. This change encourages a more sustainable and efficient communication environment by reducing the need for physical phones during this transition period.
  • Transition to Zoom Phone technology supports UIC’s sustainability initiatives
    The university’s shift to softphones is a significant step towards promoting a greener campus. By significantly reducing the reliance on physical telephones, UIC is contributing to a more sustainable environment. Fewer physical phones lessens electronic waste and leads to a smaller carbon footprint.

What do I need to do? Heading link

At this time, no action is required. As the Zoom Phone service goes live and units begin to transition, our project management team and technical staff will work with units on appropriate transitions.

If you no longer need a physical phone, you may work with your Unit Business Manager to request a disconnection to ease the transition process.

Where can I find more information? Heading link

Visit the Transition to Zoom Phone project page for more information, find answers to frequently asked questions and request support.

Please anticipate more information on Zoom Phone in the coming months. In the meantime, please find UIC Zoom resources below:


Operate with Excellence Heading link

The transition to Zoom Phone is part of the IT Strategy and the Operate with Excellence initiative.