When it comes to purchasing technology, we think about how technology can help us improve the way we do things. The new Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone system project in particular was implemented not only to improve our communication service, but as a means to save the district money. Upgrading the existing phone system is a three year project in which the district will slowly migrate existing phone equipment over to the new VOIP system. Funding for this initiative is provided by two sources; eRate and ESPLOST. These funding sources can only be used for technology and/or capital improvements. Below are a few of the reasons why we chose to move forward with VOIP.
To lower management and support costs. The old Legacy PBX phone systems operate on their own dedicated network and require dedicated phone technologies, cabling, and staff to operate. We are currently in the process of eliminating most of the old telephone systems, cabling, and all of the old PBX equipment at every school. VOIP provides us with the ability to integrate voice communication traffic over the data network. By utilizing the VOIP technology, the district will not need to maintain the existing telephone network, its cabling, or the PBX equipment. The district will also realize a cost savings by eliminating existing maintenance fees and by avoiding dedicated telecommunications personnel. One example of a cost saving measure realized is in relocating phones. Traditionally, moving a phone can take up to ten days to complete and cost the district approximately $150 per phone. Using the VOIP system, a phone can be moved in less than an hour and costs the district $0 dollars. It is expected that the district will save an average of $100,000 a year in phone relocation costs alone.
Cost savings will also be achieved by reducing the number of dedicated PBX hardware systems. Currently, each school requires PBX equipment to control 7 to 15 phone lines. VOIP allows the district to centralize the management of all phone lines. This ability to control and manage phone lines was not possible with the old system to the degree needed. To date, the district has eliminated approximately 50 PBX systems that are no longer needed; thus, the district will realize substantial long-term cost savings of approximately $400,000 over the next ten years.
Cost savings will also be achieved by reducing the number of phone lines dedicated to each school. Currently, schools have between 7 to 15 phone lines, costing the district around $30 per line. The majority of the calls are made from school to school or from schools to central support offices. With VOIP, all calls made within the district are free because they do not use a local carrier service; they use the existing data network. This allows the district to significantly reduce the number of dedicated phone lines provided by phone carriers. The district now maintains a pool of phone lines shared by all schools and central office. Using the new VOIP, the district will realize an average cost savings of around $120,000 per year. It is also anticipated that additional savings will be achieved upon completion of the project.