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  CommServ > Reference > Background > Options for Future Telephone Service at UCSB

Options for Future Telephone Service at UCSB: Details

Detailed Descriptions of the Options

Option 1, expand the GTD4600 to meet the requests for new lines until the end of the original Certificates of Participation repayment date on September 1, 2000 (the need is projected to be at 6,345 lines by that date) and then replace the system, would provide somewhat of a "business as usual" solution to the problem for the short term. The reality of the situation is that this option represents a significant investment in a technology which has been stagnant since 1989, when GTE sold their telephone switch manufacturing business to Fujitsu. Since that time all product development has ceased and parts availability is limited to used equipment.

There is no reason to believe that the current system will be able to provide basic, reliable service until the year 2000, let alone meet the requests for the newer types of enhanced services which are rapidly evolving. The number of technicians and software support personnel who are familiar with this system are dwindling rapidly at both GTE and Fujitsu. GTEL's ability to provide quality maintenance service is already deteriorating and we may experience total failures of the switch for extended periods in the future unless we augment the existing maintenance capabilities of GTEL. If we continue to use the system beyond the end of the annual maintenance agreement on October, 1997, we would have to train multiple UCSB staff in maintenance and repair, without having the benefit of a manufacturer's training class, and should maintain an adequate level of spare parts on campus.

Option 2, acquire additional equipment to expand the GTD4600 to meet the requests for new lines until July, 1997 (the current end of amortization) and then replace the system, provides a business as usual solution to the problem without the risk of a long term investment in obsolete technology. This option would provide service to the campus during an interval which would be used to analyze customer needs assessment survey data, consult with the campus community, competitively bid a replacement system and, if needed, construct a new switch room.

The risk in exercising this option is that there may be service interruptions as the result of the software changes to the data base of the GTD4600. Because there has been no continuing software development for this system, the changes made to the system in recent years have been software "patches". These patches are apt to be lost during the expansion of the system, and will have to be hand entered as their loss is discovered through customer trouble reports. This potential risk can be mitigated, but probably not eliminated, by careful scrutiny of the software when it is returned from Fujitsu. Since the system expansion could be planned for the 1995 holidays in December, there would be an opportunity to test the system with a minimum of impact upon the campus community.

Option 3, move some telephone equipment (e.g., modems and emergency telephones) off of the GTD4600 onto GTE business lines in an effort to extend the useful life of the current configuration until July, 1996 and then replace the system in July, 1997, is designed to eliminate any future capital investment in the GTD4600 by recovering lines such as the modem pool lines, emergency telephone lines, and lines on "temporary disconnect". The recovered lines would be use to satisfy requests for additional telephone service from our customers. The modem pool and emergency telephones would be connected to GTE business telephone lines. We would lose an extremely important feature of the emergency telephone system called Automatic Location Identification (ALI). ALI automatically provides Police Dispatchers with the physical location of the person using the emergency telephone, negating the need for the person to describe their location. Elimination of this feature may be a violation of California Public Utility Commission regulations, but this has not yet been verified.

If the modem pool lines are moved off of the GTD4600 and on to GTE business lines, it would be necessary to change the telephone numbers used to access the three modem pools.

The lines on temporary disconnect would have to be carefully managed and tracked, but eventually the GTD4600 switch will run out of lines in approximately June, 1996 since this strategy only recovers 347 lines.

Although this is a relatively cost effective solution on the surface, it only delays the inevitable for about 6 months, which is not enough time to select and implement a replacement telephone service. If a new system is to be installed on campus, a new switch room will not be available for occupancy until November, 1996, at the earliest; installation, testing and implementation of a new system would add another 7 months, which means 12 months of "no growth" for telephone service. Under this option, requests for new telephone lines between July, 1996 and July, 1997 could not be satisfied.

Option 4, convert an unused portion of the 893 prefix to Centrex, provide a hybrid service to meet the requests for line growth until July, 1997 and then replace the system, is based upon the concept of combining a rented service with our own telephone switch to provide line growth. CentraNet, (GTE's trademarked name for Centrex service), can be rented one line at a time on a month to month basis. By taking unused numbers in our 893 telephone numbering plan and assigning them to CentraNet service, additional CentraNet lines could be provided with features similar to those which exist on the GTD4600, providing a relatively transparent, hybrid service with features of both CentraNet and the GTD4600.

Certain feature limitations would occur with this arrangement, the most noticeable of which would be the loss of the "station camp-on with call back" feature between the CentraNet and the GTD4600 (in both directions). "Call pickup" would not work in an office which had a mixture of CentraNet and GTD4600 lines, and call transfers from one system to the other would have to be monitored until the other party answered (instead of transferring and hanging up when the other party's line begins to ring). This requirement to stay on the line when transferring would be noticed most by the UCSB operators and other departmental telephone receptionists.

Another feature difference would manifest itself when emergency calls to "9-911" from off-campus locations were placed. Currently, calls to "9-911" from off-campus locations such as Purchasing on Aero Camino end up being routed to the campus Police Department since the call really originates here on campus via a line or extension which has been extended to an off-campus location. In a CentraNet environment, the call would originate in GTE's central office via a CentraNet line located on Aero Camino, go into the 911 network as a call from an address on Aero Camino, and be routed to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. This emergency call routing process is in conflict with the UCSB Police Department's policy of being the first agency to be dispatched to an emergency at a site occupied by UCSB staff. The only way to mitigate this problem would be to set up a unique dialing plan for emergency calls, such as "8-911", for emergency calls from CentraNet lines located at off-campus locations. This would result in the calls being routed to the GTD4600 and subsequently to the UCSB Police Department, but would also result in the loss of Automatic Number Identification (ANI), since the calling number of the CentraNet line cannot transit the GTD4600 on its way into the 911 network. The loss of ANI would result in the loss of ALI, which means that the 911 dispatcher would have to get the correct address from any caller who was reporting an emergency from a CentraNet line , regardless of whether or not the caller was located on or off campus, and regardless of whether the caller dialed "8-911" or "9-911".

From an administrative point of view, difficulties could arise when lines on the GTD4600 became available as the result of a request for a disconnection, and these lines became available for reassignment to new customers. Policies would have to be developed to determine who was entitled to a line with no feature limitations and who would receive a CentraNet line.

In order to provide voice mail service to customers with CentraNet lines, it would be necessary to partition the UCSB Voice Server into "domains". Although the technical literature on the UCSB Voice Server indicates that the feature limitations between domains is controlled by the system administrator, it is unlikely that service between the two domains would be completely transparent. Forwarding messages between domains, and creating broadcast lists including message boxes from both domains could entail exceptionally complicated procedures. One feature difference which cannot be mitigated is that the message waiting indication for campus lines is "high tone", and for CentraNet lines the message waiting indication is "stutter dial tone".

There would be other slight differences in the way that the two systems behaved, but these differences could be mitigated with customer training when the CentraNet lines were installed. These differences include such things as different feature activation codes for speed call and three-way calling. Most feature activation codes would be the same.

This option has the benefit of being risk-free in terms of capital commitment, and it provides the time necessary for needs assessment, consultation, and competitive procurement. It's single largest liability would be lack of customer acceptance based upon the feature limitations, which in certain circumstances could be conceived as more than just an inconvenience, but rather as an impediment to one's ability to perform their job. Based upon the line growth requirement between January, 1996 and June, 1997, this service would be provided to between 500 and 600 customers.

Option 5, a combination of options 3 and 4 above, attempts to minimize the number of hybrid CentraNet lines being provided to the campus by first migrating the modem and emergency telephone lines off of the GTD4600 and then providing CentraNet as the last resort to customers. Both the migration of lines and implementation of CentraNet would occur concurrently, but an effort would be made to ascertain when CentraNet could be used for less personal applications such as facsimile, modems, conference room phones, lobby phones and similar applications. The early assignment of CentraNet lines for non personal applications would in effect conserve the lines on the GTD4600 for traditional applications for faculty and staff members. It would be difficult to predict how many of the new lines would fall into this category of non personal usage, but the net effect of this combined strategy of recovering lines, assigning new lines by type of usage, and ultimately installing exclusively CentraNet lines, would certainly result in fewer individual customers being assigned the CentraNet lines with their inherent feature losses.

The benefits of this option are essentially the same as option 4, and while the liabilities remain the same for this option as for the previous option, they impact fewer customers. Assuming that 50 lines could be assigned to facsimile, etc., this option would result in Centranet service ultimately being assigned to only 150 to 200 customers.

Option 6, move some telephone equipment (e.g., modems) off of the GTD4600 onto a new stand-alone telephone system, use the stand-alone system to support emergency telephones, the modem pool, and campus line growth until July, 1997 and then replace the system, is nearly identical to option 5, except that the line growth which would have been provided by CentraNet would instead be provided from a rented, stand-alone telephone system, the same system which would be used to support the modem lines and emergency phones.

This approach has the benefit of being risk-free in terms of capital commitment, and it provides the time necessary for needs assessment, consultation, and competitive procurement. It also obviates the need to have GTE involved in the provisioning process for new lines, since new lines could be provided by Communications Services directly from the rented stand-alone system (this would reduce installation intervals, repair intervals, and service order costs). The loss of certain features and subtle differences in using other features would be the nearly the same for the rented stand-alone system as it would be for CentraNet service. In almost every respect, the stand-alone telephone system would be analogous to having CentraNet service, except that the supplementary source of dial tone would come from a rented telephone system located side-by-side with the GTD4600, rather that dial tone rented from GTE's off-campus Central Office.

Regarding the feature differences, a stand-alone telephone system would suffer from the loss of the camp-on, call pickup, and transferring without monitoring features. Emergency calls from lines on the stand-alone system, whether they were located on-campus or off-campus, would be accomplished by dialing "9-911", and these calls would be routed to the Campus Police Department. The ANI and ALI would be lost, however, since the calling line number would not transit the 911 network.

The campus emergency phones would be connected to the stand-alone system, which in turn would be connected to the GTD4600 by means of multiple tie lines. This arrangement would allow for the ALI feature to be used by the Campus Police Department so that the location of the campus emergency phones would be known by the police dispatcher on a call by call basis. These multiple tie lines would also be used for the modem pool connections so that it would not be necessary to change the pilot numbers of the modem pools. Calls to the modem pools would come into the GTD4600 and they do today, and be switched to the stand-alone system via the tie lines.

In order to provide voice mail service to customers with lines from the stand-alone system, it would be necessary to partition the UCSB Voice Server into "domains". Although the technical literature on the UCSB Voice Server indicates that the feature limitations between domains is controlled by the system administrator, it is unlikely that service between the two domains would be completely transparent. Forwarding messages between domains, and creating broadcast lists including message boxes from both domains could entail exceptionally complicated procedures.

Ultimately, approximately 150 to 200 customers would be provided service from the rented stand-alone system.

Option 7, replace the GTD4600 with leased service from GTE's Central Office in Ellwood, no later than the first quarter of 1996, explores the possibility of simply renting CentraNet service from GTE as an alternative to the GTD4600, and converting the entire campus to CentraNet to eliminate the feature differences and limitations. Since this represents a significant capital investment on the part of GTE in an expansion of the Ellwood Central Office and a major reconstruction of the conduit system between Ellwood Station Road and the UCSB switch room, GTE would require a seven (7) year contract for the CentraNet service. Because of the lead time necessary for the line addition in GTE's Central Office and the reconstruction of the conduit system, GTE has stated that it could be 4 to 6 months from the signing of a CentraNet contract before the campus could be converted to Centranet.

This option has the effect of eliminating the time associated with needs assessment, consultation, and competitive procurement, since, at this time, GTE is the only telephone service provider who can provide UCSB with leased service (this condition changes in January, 1997). This option also requires no capital, since the investment would be made by GTE and recovered in their 7 year rental rate.

The liability of this option is that it eliminates all the benefits of needs assessment, consultation, and competitive procurement, and the campus would be restricted from adding new lines during the 4 to 6 month interval immediately after the contract is signed. In short, the campus would be committed to 7 years of telephone service which may or may not meet present and future technological and feature requirements, at a cost which, without the benefit of competitive procurement, would significantly raise the rates for telephone service to the campus.




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