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The project to upgrade our telephony systems to a more modern 'unified communications' solution is now complete.

Ulster University's ageing telephone systems were replaced with Microsoft Skype for Business, representing a major investment which has deliver a step-change in communications capability both internally and between the University and partner organisations.

The selection of Microsoft Skype for Business has been made in accordance with a long-term strategic agreement which sees Microsoft providing Ulster and its staff and students with access to a wide range of the latest versions of the company's products and solutions.

Skype for Business will integrate closely with Microsoft Exchange (email) and Office products that are already extensively used throughout the University.

The introduction of the technology has meant that a variety of communications such as voice, email and video are now accessible from a single user interface such as a PC, smartphone or tablet. This has brought benefits to University staff, given our multi-campus structure.

The project was further enhanced with the integration of Skype for Business with the Polycom Immersive Suites at each campus.

What is Unified Communications?

Unified Communications (UC) is the convergence of multiple types of communications including real-time communications such as telephony and instant messaging and message-based communications such as email and voicemail.  Unified Communications also integrates multiple media types including voice, video and data.

In a Unified Communications environment all these types of communications are accessible from a single user interface.  This might be a desktop client application or a single handheld device (e.g. smartphone or tablet).

Why has the telephony team been renamed ‘Unified Communications’?

The project will replace the old telephone systems with a new unified communications solution (based upon Microsoft’s Skype for Business application) that will support ‘traditional’ telephony but will also offer new communications options including video telephony, instant messaging and integration of email and voicemail systems.

The telephony team has been re-named to reflect this wider remit.