UIC shifting to a sustainable voice communication system

Dear faculty and staff,

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?
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 UI Health. 

The transition started this fall with a pilot group, the UIC Division of Specialized Care for Children, UIC Human Resources and Technology Solutions, marking a crucial step toward 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 successful transition.

Why is this happening?
The transition to the Zoom Phone is part of UIC’s IT Strategy and supports the Operate with Excellence initiative aimed at modernizing and streamlining the university’s technology services. This project also recognizes the importance of staying at the forefront of technology while also aligning with the university’s sustainability goals.

What do I need to know?
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 Oct. 1.
    On Oct. 1, 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 toward 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?
At this time, no action is required. Technology Solutions will continue to send updates and detailed communications once the transition for your unit begins. We will also be working closely with colleges and units to identify any specific needs or requirements that may arise during the transition. 

Where can I find more information?
To stay updated on the university’s transition to Zoom Phone, visit the project page on the IT at UIC website.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please ask us.


Jason Maslanka
Assistant  Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Chief Technology Officer

Jelene Crehan
Director of Network Engineering and Infrastructure

For more information, please contact:
Jason Maslanka

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