Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a rapidly gaining system throughout much of the world. Consumers are finding plenty of value in VoIP as they save money on their phone bills, and discover new features in the process. Businesses are finding value for many of the same reasons and are even finding value in consolidating systems, getting rid of phone systems and replacing them with augmented data systems. With all these sectors discovering the field, it's not surprising that higher education facilities are making changes toward bringing in VoIP services into its own operations.
While VoIP delivers the conventional benefits for higher education, like savings on long distance and international calling, it also allows for some more specific benefits that can be provided for education systems. For instance, universities are discovering that VoIP systems can be used as the backbone for distance learning courses and other online classes. Using video calling and teleconferencing can not only be simpler, but also much less expensive, allowing higher education venues to offer more classes, more services and improve its value proposition to its customers.
But VoIP has other uses to offer; it can connect schools to other schools, or to research facilities and experts in fields to provide expert commentary on certain issues in a fashion that's both easy to work with and cost-effective. Teachers can not only better connect with students, but also with each other, and even better connect to emergency services with E911 capability.
Recently, Vassar College brought in Esna Technologies to augment its own VoIP capabilities by using the Google (News - Alert) Apps functionality, a service that's growing increasingly popular with cloud-based telephony providers. Maine's Bowdoin College also stepped up its private network offerings to include a larger VoIP network accessible from students' cell phones.
Businesses are taking advantage of the growth to expand their line of offerings as well. TelcoDepot.com, for example, only a few months ago started a special offer to provide bulk purchase discounts on VoIP hardware and other communications equipment to provide better VoIP services, as well as video conferencing, access control and several other similar services, for the education market.
A more collaborative effort between Internet2, Level 3 Communications (News - Alert) and Aastra, focused on bringing SIP services to the higher education market; the "Voice in the Cloud" line of SIP services offered by Internet2 got a big boost from the infrastructure capabilities offered by Aastra (News - Alert) and Level 3 Communications, giving the overall system a great deal of power at a price that most universities can handle.
It's a situation that bodes well for a lot of the players in the market. The universities are getting a powerful new system which can not only offer up more in the way of services, but they can also offer these services at a lower overall cost. Lower costs means lower revenue needed to break even, and that means a good shot at lower tuition. Lower tuition means lower student loan debt and a chance for more students to get a shot at higher education.
While it's not exactly a linear progression, it's still something worth looking into. The additional benefits to businesses also can't be overlooked, especially in a soft economy of the kind in which we're currently found. VoIP may well be one of the biggest trends on college campuses since MTV.
Edited by Ashley Caputo