ITS experiments with VOIP telephone systems, wireless hubs

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Efforts to bring Swarthmore further into the information age continue as ITS weighs the pros and cons of innovations such as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephone systems and wireless hot spots for the campus. Currently, both are used to a limited extent in select parts of campus and may expand in the future.

Using the internet instead of landlines, VOIP telephony is a technology that Swarthmore has been using for two years, according to ITS Network and Systems Manager Mark Dumic. While these phones were used in overflow housing in Whittier, Fieldhouse Lane, and one floor of Strath Haven last year, this year the phones are only in place in Whittier.

Despite scaling back, Dumic reports that “other than the phones needing to be restarted after the power failures that the building has experienced, they seem to be working well. We aren’t getting reports of problems.” Nevertheless, he commented that “there isn’t currently a clear cut advantage to the new technology although there’s the promise of interesting new features and applications in the future.”

Wireless internet access is currently available in McCabe and Cornell Libraries and ITS plans to add areas in Kohlberg and Science Center Coffee Bars “within the next few weeks,” according to Dumic. Additionally, there is the possibility of another official hot spot in the SCCS lounge. Some students have installed their own hubs in college dormitories and allowed wireless-card-owning neighbors to make use of them as well.

As for the continued development of the campus’ wireless network, Dumic says “we will need to see where the wireless project fits into the other priorities for the College. For example, we know that we have a need to replace our aging telephone system which will soon no longer be maintained by the vendor.”

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