Network upgrades and new phone system
UAS is midway through a wide-area network upgrade that will significantly improve the performance and reliability of campus systems. These changes should be complete before the start of Spring classes.
The first phase of this project changed the UA network to connect Ketchikan and Sitka campuses directly to the Juneau campus. Previously, all communication between UAS campuses was routed through Fairbanks. This routing impacted both the reliability of the network as well as the responsiveness when transmitting information. The new design allows communication to stay within the region. The change also included a substantial increase in actual network bandwidth. For the past several years, each extended campus was served by two 1.5 Mbit circuits. The new network provides up to 45 Mbits of dedicated bandwidth per campus. This means that the connectivity between communities is comparable to the bandwidth between buildings on the Juneau campus.
The second phase of the network project will provide a dedicated Internet connection to the UAS region. This change is currently scheduled to take place over the winter break. Currently, UAS users compete with users in Anchorage and Fairbanks for Internet access. This means that a network contention issue in Fairbanks impacts performance for UAS. The new network design will greatly improve our communication with distance students, especially when using streaming media or Webmeeting technologies.
New Phone System
The conversion to the new phone system is currently ahead of schedule. The Ketchikan and Sitka campuses are both running entirely on the new system. Replacement of handsets on the Juneau campus was scheduled to start in the Spring; however, IT services began replacing phones early and 25% of the Juneau handsets have already been replaced.
The new system provides a number of important new features. Some of the more significant are:
- Four-digit dialing between campus locations. We are all on the same phone system now, so campus users can dial, transfer, and conference call between campuses just as they would on-campus.
- Local dialing to Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka communities. When dialing off-campus, you can now dial any number in the campus communities as if it were a local number. This means that a person in Sitka could call a local business or private residence in Ketchikan simply by dialing it as a local number. Among other advantages, this means that there are no longer any long-distance toll charges when calling numbers in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka.
- Improved forwarding. You can now forward your phone off-campus. If you are going to be away from you phone but don't want to miss a call, you can forward your office phone to a cell phone number.
- Toll-avoidance to UAA and UAF (coming soon). The new system will provide toll avoidance when calling numbers at UAA and the Fairbanks campus. This change is on hold until Statewide can make some network configuration changes. We currently expect this capability to be available sometime in January.