Telephony at USask

The evolving needs of telephony at USask

USask’s use of telephones has evolved significantly over the years. More and more we use email, chat, web conferencing, and other alternatives instead of desktop phones.

The demand for traditional telephony, particularly for desktop phones, has decreased and our current telephone infrastructure needs substantial upgrades. This gives us an opportunity to review our needs, determine the best path forward, and explore more modernized technology options to be the university the world needs.

USask will be expanding the functionality of Microsoft Teams by upgrading our licenses to include MS Teams Phone. This will allow our community to place and receive phone calls from within Teams without the need for a desktop phone.

Microsoft Teams Phone

For an overview of the exciting features and interface, watch this video

Microsoft Teams Phone is Microsoft's technology for enabling call capabilities within MS Teams.
This evolution of our existing collaboration tool will allow users to:

  • Make and receive traditional voice calls (both internal and external to USask) via the Teams app
  • Access other call features such as voicemail and placing calls on hold

Timeline

Phase 1 (complete): Winter 2022 Needs assessment
Engage with stakeholders across campus to understand their telephony needs.

Phase 2 (in progress): Spring/Summer 2022 Testing and Implementing 
Following the needs assessment we will be implementing MS Teams Phone to pilot groups for further testing and planning.

Phase 3: Fall 2022 MS Teams Phone available

* Further consultation for special use cases (such as call centres, labs, fax machines and others) will occur throughout. 

Stakeholder Enagement

Earlier this year, ICT conducted various stakeholder engagement sessions and distributed a community survey. 

From this stakeholder engagement we learned that over 70% of respondants showed some interest in using Teams Phone for their Telephony needs. 

However, we also heard that many did not fully understand the change and what is being offered with this solution. 

Below we have developed some FAQs that address common concerns heard and we encourage you to use the comment field should you have any feedback. 

FAQ

The demand for communication tools that offer more flexibility and features has increased over the last few years. When USask shifted to virtual work, many saw the downside of being tethered to a physical desk phone.

Our winter 2021 survey indicated that over 70% of respondents were interested in using this new solution for their telephony needs. During stakeholder engagement we heard that staff were relying on personal devices and calling plans for business calls and disliked the lack of privacy. 

Numerous USask members are continuing to work in a hybrid environment and this calling solution will allow users to essentially take their phone with them regardless of location. 

This move will leverage and expand upon our Microsoft Teams licence which users indicaded they are using for the majority of current communication and collaboration. 

Yes, your campus extension will remain the same on Teams Phone. When placing external calls, recipients will see your 966 number as the call display.

Voice calls made through Microsoft Teams Phone will route through the campus phone system.

Within your Teams app you will see a Calls tab that includes a dial pad, call history, voicemail and customizable features such as speed dial groups, call notifications and more. 

Teams Phone integrates with your Teams status so if you are presenting or have your status set to "Do Not Disturb" your calls and notifications are muted. In addition, there are many customizable notification and call answering rules.

Yes, please stay tuned for additional information and upcoming training opportunities.

Microsoft Teams Phone will be an optional service; however, many desktop phones in our fleet are nearing end of life and support which can cause security vulnerabilities. MS Teams Phone will meet the majority of our campus telephony needs. In the long term, desk top phone requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Equipment preferences are up to individual work environments and at the discretion of the unit. Available  headsets may be purchased at IT Requisitions.

Calls may be made from any device on which the Teams app is installed. When making calls from your mobile device via Teams, recipients will see your campus phone number as the call display.

Questions or Feedback?

Please let us know any comments or concerns you may have regarding Telephony Modernization.