Accelerating Innovation

Unbound Spiral: New Kind of Revolution in Dorms

September 23, 2003 01:06 PM

Will the adminstrators or the students drive the change to VOIP telephony? From the New York Times --- Students get free calling. Dartmouth is looking to reach 13000, Skype already has 42500 online.

Using the software together with a headset, which can be plugged into a computer's U.S.B. port, the students can make local or long-distance telephone calls free. Each student is assigned a traditional seven-digit phone number.

The software, supplied by a variety of companies, works on laptops and desktop computers alike. Over the next six months, the softphone platforms will expand to include Apple computers, as well as Palm and Pocket PC hand-held devices.

When running, the software appears on the screen as a phone with a dial pad. Phone numbers are dialed by clicking the numbers on the key pad.

Voice over Internet protocol is not new. But running so much voice over a wireless data network is.

"As far as I know, no one has done a wireless voice-over-I.P. network this large before," said David Kotz, a computer science professor at Dartmouth.

The network is being phased in across the entire campus with plans to reach 13,000 people, including faculty and staff.

"So far, it's just incoming freshmen, because they're the ones mostly likely to grab on to this," said Larry Levine, the director of computing at Dartmouth.

The $50 headsets are being sold at the campus computer store. "But most headsets will work," said Bob Johnson, director of network services at Dartmouth. "It's just a question of what kind of voice quality you want."

The roll out of voice over Internet protocol is closely coupled with Dartmouth's recent decision to stop charging students, faculty and staff for long-distance phone calls. The college made that decision when administrators discovered that the billing function was costing more than the calls themselves.

"One wouldn't be possible without the other," Mr. Johnson said. "Imagine the complexities of trying to track down who made what call when on a large, mobile campus voice-over-I.P. network."
[New York Times: Technology]

How will the adminstrators address Skype?