Are VoIP Solutions beneficial to Schools and Universities?

VoIP Solutions have been enthusiastically embraced by individuals and businesses. For some, it is no other reason than the substantial cost savings in moving from the tolled PSTN network to toll-free internet connections. There are, of course,  other benefits in improvements in operational processes and customer service levels.

One of the strategic moves forced on IT by the events of 2020 has been the move to remote working. Resources have been diverted from planned projects to emergency projects to enable the transition. VoIP Solutions have been a significant growth element, either as new implementations or developing an existing Unified Communications Strategy.

One question that is often asked, particularly in the education environment, is whether VoIP Solutions make a positive contribution. The answer is a resounding YES, and not just for Education. Any campus style, multi-building, or multi-site environment will benefit.

Looking specifically at Education, 2020 has seen a significant move to an e-learning environment. Initially, E-Learning has been delivered remotely using collaborative software tools.  As staff and pupils have been able to return to campus, traditional methods have been revived, but in many cases with a distinct E-Learning flavor. This has, of necessity, meant change in the way in which learning is administered and delivered.

One thing that has emerged is the importance of stable and cost-effective communications as the bedrock for educational delivery. That is where VoIP Solutions can make a substantial contribution.

VoIP on Campus

VoIP on Campus

As with any enterprise, Schools and Universities have a management component. They need HR, Finance, Procurement, and all the other essential business functions.  They are then supplemented by education-specific features like curriculum and student management.  Additional services like postgraduate support, residence management, and meal bookings complete the range of services.

VoIP can give benefits in all areas, and if the institution is multi-site, then VoIP improves inter-site communications and reduces overall business costs:

Education benefits from many VoIP functions:

Call Management

Call Management

The core business of an educational establishment is dependent on students. At the start of each academic year, there is a period of frantic activity as existing and new students are registered, assigned to courses. VoIP can provide benefits in several ways:

  • Incoming calls can be assigned to calling/hunting groups so that they can be dealt with promptly. Pickup also allows staff to take calls at unattended desks when the staff member is absent.

  • The familiar keypad and IVR systems can direct callers to the appropriate department or staff members rather than via a switchboard.

  • IVR can also deal with simple requests to send forms and brochures to an email address.

  • Mobile extensions. Most VoIP implementation support SIP technology. Allied to a smart device app, SIP can turn a smart device into a phone extension.  If they are in the campus WiFi network range, a member of staff need never be uncontactable.

  • Sometimes, an event needs to be broadcast in more than one location. A typical example is a graduation ceremony in one building on one campus displayed on all campuses. This is becoming more important for graduations carried out remotely.

Travel

Travel

Campuses tend to be geographically quite large and sometimes quite widespread. Staff can spend a lot of time moving between campuses and campus buildings, which is not generally productive. If they use desktop video conferencing over the VoIP link, that can lessen the need to physically meet.

Collaboration

voip collaboration

  • E-learning is becoming more-and-more integrated with Social Media. Students generally have a smart device and feel like their life is ended if they cannot access social media.

  • Lecturers are interacting with classes using WhatsApp and other communications platforms. Students are submitting assignments electronically and using social media to collaborate on tasks.

  • In many countries, there are Education networks linking schools, colleges, and Universities. Academic and non-academic staff can communicate easily with each other individually and in groups using VoIP and video-conferencing over that network

    Students and student groups can also use it to communicate with their peers in other institutions.

Safety and Security

Safety and Security

Safety and security is an increasing concern in many institutions. If SIP and VoIP are linked with a WiFi network, it allows students and staff to use an emergency number on their smart device. If they feel they need assistance, then this number is readily available to summon help.

To summarise, the use of VoIP Solutions in a multi-campus, especially educational environments, is a no-brainer. It brings many benefits in addition to the obvious ones of cost reduction. Internal and external communications are improved. It integrates the institution more deeply into the wider educational structures.

Many tertiary institutions have courses that require travel to a specialized campus to attend lectures. Using VoIP to broadcast the lecture material to the remote campus removs the need for students to travel

What is Conference Bridge Calling and How to Use it?

The increasing use of VoIP systems and the current anti-Covid measures have brought video-conferencing to everyone’s attention. Most VoIP systems, both local and hosted support it, and there are specialised video-conferencing software applications that deliver sophisticated solutions, particularly for the larger multi-site and multi-country organisations.

However, conferencing does not always need video, and on occasion, video is not possible because of technical limitations. Indeed, phone conferencing solutions were available before video conferencing became common and economically and technically feasible.

Call conferencing is made possible by a bit of technology called a conference bridge, which creates a virtual conference room. Participants then dial into the conference room using their phone, landline or cellular. The call can be either voice-only or voice plus video. Some offer screen sharing and other collaboration options. This approach is adopted by both analogue and VoIP systems.

At the outset, non-VoIP conferences were limited to small numbers of participants, usually three. Most conference systems allowing lots of participants are an add-on to the basic phone system and are usually very expensive.Continue reading

5 Ways to Improve Customer Service With Call Recording Data

5 Ways to Improve Customer Service With Call Recording Data

VoIP systems are now common in many large and small businesses. For most, it is a no brainer because of the cost benefits in moving long-distance and international calls to the Internet, but many are now using the other benefits of a VoIP system to improve the quality of service they provide to their customers.

It used to be limited to large businesses only, but Cloud PBX systems now allow small business to take advantage of the features of a VoIP PBX.

One of the main advantages is to enable even the smallest businesses to use their Cloud PBX to establish a call centre to improve customer interaction and to develop new business. In the past, they were seen as a liability, but are now seen as a means of delivering revenue to the business by converting prospective customers to customers and helping customer retention. After all, it has been determined it costs eight times as much to gain a new customer as to retain an existing one.Continue reading

How Does Eavesdropping Exploit Affect Your VoIP Phone

How Does Eavesdropping Exploit Affect Your VoIP Phone

Business and home users have taken to VoIP like ducks to water. To both, it offers cost savings and convenience. To businesses, it provides the opportunity to use advanced communications features over and above the traditional land-line POTS solution. Rolling out toll-free International calling and video-conferencing, providing advanced call management to customer support centres and improving their overall business profile is now achievable and a modest and controllable cost.

Originally needing big iron, small businesses can run a virtual PBX on a dedicated desktop PC and take advantage of those new offerings.

However, as with all digital advances, security comes into play and VoIP Security is no exception.Continue reading

4 Ways AI and VoIP Can Improve Business Collaboration

4 Ways AI and VoIP Can Improve Business Collaboration

The widespread adoption of Business VoIP is well underway.  The benefits, both financially and in improving the quality of customer service make it a no-brainer.   Another aspect of the current digital revolution is the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (”AI”) to automate routine manual tasks.

What if the two could be brought together?  AI is touted as the way of the future and is finding its way into many business areas, not just IT.   

Here are four ways in which Business VoIP and AI could work together to the benefit of the business.Continue reading

What you ought to know about VoIP Fraud

What You Ought to Know about VoIP Fraud

VoIP Communication is a common feature in corporate and personal life nowadays.  Most large concerns use it as a matter of course as part of their corporate integrated communications platform.

In the past, communications costs were inflated by unauthorised calls and other activities designed to get around telephone security policies. It’s no different today in VoIP Communications.  People still try to make unauthorised calls inside the organisation, and people try to hijack the company communications networks to make their calls.  Nothing really new, except that it’s now digital.Continue reading

What Is Telephony Denial of Service and How to Prevent It

What Is Telephony Denial of Service and How to Prevent It

Most, if not all, large businesses use VoIP as their prime communications medium, usually because of the cost and functionality benefits it confers. As the market has developed, the ability to adopt a VoIP solution has extended to smaller businesses. However, as with other IT areas, VoIP has attracted the attention of miscreants, thieves and hackers intent on stealing information and disrupting business operations.

A new discipline, VoIP Security, has grown up to counteract these efforts.

In the larger IT environment, one particular thorn in the flesh has been Denial of Service (“DoS or DDoS”) attacks. These are intended to prevent normal communication with the organisations systems and services by flooding the organisations IT interfaces with large amounts of data, preventing authorised traffic from getting through. In a cloud environment, or for an Internet-based sales or service provider, this could be fatal.Continue reading

How to protect VoIP from scammers

How to protect VoIP from scammers

VoIP for Business provides a range of benefits, including substantial cost-savings that make it a must-have for most businesses.  However, as with most IT advances, VoIP has attracted the dark side of the developers.   Hackers and scammers are using VoIP for Business as a way to steal data and execute hacking exploits.

As with other types of malware attacks, business need to be aware of how these exploits are executed and what preventative measures they can take.

The first thing to understand is that most successful hacking attacks are by having users provide sensitive information. Scammers are becoming more sophisticated, and they are increasingly using VoIP to steal personal and company data or just cause mischief.Continue reading

Reasons why Cloud VoIP can help your Business

Reasons Why Cloud VoIP Can Help Your Business

The benefits that VoIP for Business can bring to your business are undeniable.  Add to that Cloud VoIP, hosted or on-site  and you have a winning combination that can add significantly to your business profile.

Depending on the size of the business, either implementation can be applicable.  However, having said that, a cloud-based approach can fit more easily with an existing cloud-based environment, either on‑site or hosted.

Before choosing a particular approach, it is best to consider firstly whether on-site or hosted VoIP is better suited to the business, and secondly, whether a Cloud-based architecture is appropriate.Continue reading

Identifying and defending your system from vulnerabilities

VoIP Security: Identifying and defending your system from vulnerabilities

First we had viruses, then rootkits, now we have ransomware.  One thing is certain, the next bit of malware technology is currently under development and be with us soon. Even systems like VoIP are under attack and are being used as portals to gain access to corporate information. 

What kind of threats are currently being seen in VoIP systems and how are they to be countered? 

The first thing to understand that because VoIP is based on IP technologies it is vulnerable to all the malware and attack techniques that are inflicted on IP networks.  The second is that VoIP goes over the Internet, and while you can contain and manage IP security in your internal closed corporate network, you are at the mercy of third-party service providers of varying quality in their security systems.  The third, and one often forgotten, is that all devices in the VoIP network are IP devices and are therefore vulnerable to all the threats found with other IP devices. That must be factored into the overall data and voice protection scenario.Continue reading