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Shaw University, Nation's Oldest Southern Historically Black University, Leaps Into A New Age of Communications Using Avaya Internet Protocol Technology

06-07-2004
  • Cuts Operations Costs by 50 Percent, Creates New Revenue Sources and Introduces Distance Learning to North Carolina Corridor

Shaw University, the nation's oldest historically black college in the south, selected Avaya to help take its students, faculty and community to the next level with Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony communications.

Shaw University, the nation's oldest historically black college in the south, selected Avaya Inc. (NYSE:AV), a leading global provider of communications networks and services for businesses, to help take its students, faculty and community to the next level - not to mention the next century - with Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony communications.

Using Avaya solutions, the private liberal arts university in Raleigh, N.C., has replaced its aging and costly Centrex system that frequently dropped calls and lacked the capability to provide unified campus-wide telephony features like voice mail. Today, Shaw has broadened its capabilities with a converged end-to-end data and voice systems network, enabling the same dialing plan across all ten locations and the creation of virtual classrooms through videoconferencing. The main campus is now seamlessly linked more tightly to its remote campus sites - some of which are spread 246 miles across the state.

The 2,600-student university has slashed expenses in half, improved communications reliability, and created a flexible infrastructure that will allow them to reap revenue through service offerings. With IP Telephony, the university expects to save $1.5 million over the next five years. IP Telephony is software-based technology that uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to transmit voice as data over a computer network. This emerging technology helps reduce network costs.

In Shaw's old environment, calls were frequently blocked into student dorms and administrative departments due to limited bandwidth. Busy counselors at the university's financial aid office only had two phone lines and callers frequently heard busy signals. University administration could not do four-digit dialing to buildings that were across the street and calling features, like voice mail services, were limited or in some instances, non-existent at some facilities such as student dorms.

"Our communications system has gone from the 19th Century to the 21st Century in nine months, and we now have full resources available to all students and simultaneously have a network that's cost effective and generates a revenue stream," said Martel Perry, Shaw's executive vice president.

"With Avaya Internet Protocol Telephony infrastructure in place, our communications network can take us as far as our imagination wants to go," he said. Perry said the university is now light years ahead of other local universities.

With a vision to provide quality education by provisioning quality technology, University President Clarence Newsome, Ph.D., said the new network infrastructure will have immediate impact in augmenting Shaw's computer sciences pision, and will have further reaching benefits.

"We've been building a complex highway for education," said Newsome. "This converged network from Avaya helps us to improve the culture of our learning environment, creates broader bonds with our communities and enhances the quality of education while carefully using our limited resources," said Newsome.

Benefits of the new IP Telephony enterprise network for Shaw:

  • Productivity and mobility up. Staff productivity improved with the use of Avaya IP Phones, including the Avaya 4620 IP Phone and the Avaya 4624 IP Softphone. The softphone allows a computer to serve as a desktop telephone with the flexibility of connecting to the university network no matter where a person is. The university administration and faculty also have greater mobility with the Avaya Extension to Cellular, which allows staff to move about the campus or telecommute and have their desktop calls transparently delivered to their cell phones.
  • Distance learning enabled. With the installation of a new video conferencing system, the Polycom Multipoint Conferencing Unit sold by Avaya, Shaw's voice, video and data network has a footprint that covers the state of North Carolina. The university can offer a fuller line-up of courses to anyone in the world, but has a local reach to its remote Centers for Alternative Programs in Education (CAPE) centers. These centers are located in areas that include: Ahoskie, Asheville, Durham, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount/Wilson, Greenville, High Point, Kannapolis and Wilmington.
  • Innovative communications for students. Students can even join a lecture via cell phone because the IP network allows links to as many as 24 video conferencing sites and audio conferencing to 48 sites.
  • Travel time and staffing decreased. Staff and administration no longer have to travel for meetings to remote campuses because videoconferencing is at each site. The university has also decreased the number of adjunct professors needed at its remote locations.
  • Network management eased. An IP Telephony platform allows Shaw to more easily and centrally manage its network via the Avaya Integrated Management software. The school has also solved its urgent need for more bandwidth and reduced the myriad of carriers and service providers. Before switching to a unified Avaya platform, the university described managing its network as a "nightmare" as it previously used eight different local telephone carriers, 15 Internet service providers, four long distance carriers and four cell phone companies.
  • Expenses cut. The school once paid expensive toll charges between locations and had no call accounting. Although all of the lines for Shaw's Centrex system were not being used, the university still had to pay nearly $40,000 a month for the dorms' lines. That expense has now been cut in half.
  • Enrollment and retention up. Shaw has already seen a 20 percent increase in enrollments at its remote campuses that are linked to the main campus via videoconferencing.
  • Revenue created. The university plans to generate revenue by providing video and audio conferencing services to the community for training classes or meetings. Also, Shaw plans to receive additional revenue by charging students a fee for voice mailboxes offered from the Avaya INTUITY™ AUDIX® Multimedia Messaging Server. These services are provided by the Avaya MultiVantage™ Communications Applications portfolio powered by Avaya Communications Manager, the Avaya flagship IP software.

The university uses the Avaya G700 Media Gateway and Avaya P330 Stackable Switching System at the remote sites that link to the main campus and with service provider US LEC to provide a robust frame relay network.

About Shaw
Shaw University was founded in 1865 with a mission to admit students without regard to race, creed or gender and to provide educational opportunities, technical skills and character development for its perse student population. Shaw is considered the mother of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in North Carolina. Five of the 11 historically black colleges were started on Shaw's campus or founded by Shaw graduates. Since 2003, the university has been under the leadership of Dr. Clarence G. Newsome. President Newsome's leadership pursues the theme: "Strides to Excellence: Only the Best!"

About Avaya
Avaya Inc. designs, builds and manages communications networks for more than one million businesses worldwide, including over 90 percent of the FORTUNE 500®. Focused on businesses large to small, Avaya is a world leader in secure and reliable Internet Protocol (IP) telephony systems and communications software applications and services.

Driving the convergence of voice and data communications with business applications - and distinguished by comprehensive worldwide services - Avaya helps customers leverage existing and new networks to achieve superior business results. For more information visit the Avaya Web site: http://www.avaya.com

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