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Penn iPhone: A new way of Managing Communications


Want to check for voice mail while going through your email? Would you like to temporarily direct your voice messages to your email account while you’re away from the office? Do you need a designated staff member to manage your telephone account in case of an emergency? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may want to participate in the Penn iPhone pilot. Penn iPhone is Information Systems & Computing’s (ISC) new telephone and voice mail service that uses VoIP (Voice over IP) technology. VoIP converts your voice into data and transports it over PennNet. Because VoIP is digital, it offers a host of features and benefits not available with traditional analog phone service. 

Why VoIP Now?

Voice over IP is increasingly becoming a more viable option for voice services. Technology improvements are reducing the gap in quality between traditional voice services and VoIP and the additional services enabled by VoIP as well as the potential for savingsmakes this a clear direction for the future. As we plan for the future, we recognize that much of the University’s existing telephone infrastructure consists of cables that were laid more than 50 years ago. Before the existing telephone infrastructure requires expensive replacement or fixes, we want to be prepared to ensure that Penn’s telephone service continues to be reliable and keeps pace with new services and features as they become available. The goal is to deploy a dependable, cost-effective, and easily supported VoIP service over the next few years.

About the Penn iPhone Pilot

The purpose of the pilot is to obtain valuable feedback concerning the program’s features and services as well as to understand any implications for our network before the service is offered to the Penn community. ISC has developed a comprehensive, production-like pilot program to enable customers to experience all areas of the new service from billing to reference materials to support. We need a significant number of participants to be able to determine implications for support and network traffic. The pilot offers participants the opportunity to evaluate and migrate to a technology that includes a new voice mail service, a new telephone set, and a different way of getting support. The pilot is now open for enrollment and continues until summer 2007.  This timeframe will allow the VoIP team to re-evaluate, respond, and then make any necessary adjustments to program services, features, and deliverables in an analytical and controlled manner.

Pilot Eligibility & Selection Criteria

To be considered for the pilot, a school or department must provide a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 150 participants. Currently, we can only support departments or groups within departments rather then individual or student participants. To ensure that Penn iPhone is a good match for your group, make sure that prospective participants meet the following program requirements. Requests for participation will be reviewed by the VoIP team in consultation with your Local Support Provider (LSP) and Business Administrator (BA).

Use a single-line telephone set. Multiple-line-telephone sets will be supported in future releases of the service. 

Agree to use the Penn iPhone service for a period of six months. Penn iPhone service consists of a new voice mail system for accessing and leaving voice mail messages, a new VoIP phone, and a different way of getting telephone support.

Agree to replace their traditional phone with a new VoIP phone while keeping the same phone number.

 Be comfortable with trying new technology, realizing that VoIP is an emerging technology that ISC is deploying on a limited and scaled basis.

Benefits of Participating in the Pilot

• Six-month savings! Your voice mail service and telephone set are free for the first six months. Plus, telephone installation charges and accompanying PennNet fees are waived. Please note that post-pilot prices will be comparable to the traditional single-line and two-line digital phone service.

• New VoIP phone. Enjoy one-touch access to voice mail! Easily view information on a larger display screen; conveniently track missed, received, and placed calls; and personalize your phone by choosing from more than 12 ring types.

• Email access to voice mail.  Persons who have voice mail can elect to be notified via email of voice messages and/or can click on a link in email to listen to voice messages via their computer.  Of course, accessing and managing voice mail messages by phone are still available.

• Manage phone features via the web.  Log into My iPhone to easily manage telephone and voice mail features wherever you have access to a web browser: reset passwords, turn on call forwarding, change voice mail delivery methods, etc. You can even assign proxy rights to designated staff so that they can manage your Penn iPhone account while you’re away from the office. And, your changes take place in real time!

• Penn Directory access. Your new VoIP phone allows you to search and display results from the public view of the Penn Directory.

Apply Now!

ISC needs your help and encourages schools and departments to take advantage of this period of lower telephone bills and the opportunity to explore increased flexibility to better manage communications. The six-month offer and the installation and PennNet fee waivers are valid for the first 2,000 pilot participants only.

To apply and learn more about the Penn iPhone pilot, go to the Voice website at www.upenn.edu/computing/voice/ and click on the link “Penn iPhone.” At the Penn iPhone pilot web site, select “Become a Pilot Participant” in the left menu bar. Or, feel free to contact Dawn Augustino, VoIP Project Manager at  dawn@isc.upenn.edu. We appreciate your help and look forward to your participation and feedback.

—Robin H. Beck, Vice President of
Information Systems and Computing

—Mike Palladino, Associate Vice President of
Information Systems and Computing


Departments within the following schools and centers

are currently participating in the Penn iPhone pilot:

• Information Systems and Computing

• Law School

• Office of Audit, Compliance and Privacy

• Office of the Vice Provost for University Life

• School of Arts and Sciences

• School of Engineering and Applied Science

• School of Medicine

• School of Nursing

• School of Veterinary Medicine

• Van Pelt-Dietrich Library

• Wharton School



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 30, April 18, 2006


April 18, 2006
Volume 52 Number 30


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