On October 18th, 1999, Trent University Campaign Chair Don Tapscott, Chancellor Peter Gzowski and President and Vice-Chancellor Bonnie Patterson officially launched Trent's $17 million Beyond Our Walls Campaign. On this occasion, Mike Larkin, Bell Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, announced a commitment of over $1 million in resources, equipment and expertise from Bell Canada." Bell Canada's support includes: a new telecommunications system for Trent's campuses, significant on- and off-campus Internet access for students through Bell's High Speed Sympatico product, donation of video conferencing equipment and significant resources towards the development of a web-based liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the creation of a Bell World location on campus, agreements that support enrollment of Bell employees in Trent's emerging web and video-conferencing based professional development, degree completion and distance learning programs. The new technology will be introduced to the University community in several phases.


Phase One is a joint venture with Bell Canada and Mitel and involves replacement of the current Nortel technology with a Mitel 2000 SX switch on the main campus. This will result in some telephone set changes and migration of current meridian voicemail users to the Mitel voicemail product. The downtown campuses were migrated to a separate Mitel switch in October of 1999. The main campus telephone switch will be brought online during the weekend of February 18th through the 20th. The move to Mitel Mail (Mitel's version of voicemail) will also occur at that time.

Why are we replacing the current telephone configuration?

The current telephone switch was installed at Trent many years ago and is in a state of constant repair and maintenance. Several lightning strikes in the past have significantly damaged the Nortel switch. Costs to maintain and upgrade are becoming prohibitive. Our costs to provide cable protection for the existing telephone infrastructure would have exceeded $100,000. The new system utilizes our fiber optic wiring and therefore does not require this expensive protection. The new technology will provide for us a high level of reliability, an opportunity to provide voicemail to all offices, as well as sophisticated tools for statistical reporting and call flow analysis and other services the current configuration is unable to provide. Telephony is moving towards integration with data networking. Moving to the Mitel product provides Trent with the opportunity to move forward in this direction.

What is the impact to the University Community?

Most of the changes to the system will be transparent to the users and occur behind the scenes in the main telecommunications room. There will be changes to some phone sets. Those who are currently using a single line set will not see a change in their phone. The older SL1 sets and newer multi-line digital sets will be replaced with a Mitel equivalent. They were proprietary to the Meridian switch and will not work with the Mitel. The phone sets will be swapped out during the weekend of the upgrade.

What are the departmental costs associated with this new technology?

There will be no costs associated with the change in phone sets, unless the individual is upgrading. At that point, the cost of the set would be charged to the department. There is no charge for voicemail and it will be introduced to the entire University Community over the next few months.

What is the overall cost to the University for the new Telephone System?

The new telephone system has not caused the University to spend any more money, either in operational or start-up costs. The system is leased and has allowed us to reduce our operational cost in other areas such as direct-inward-dial numbers. It has allowed us to avoid additional expenditures to existing cabling of over $100,000 to administrative and academic buildings and through our new partnership with Bell, to avoid having to wire our Residences for an additional expenditure in excess of $600,000.

What about training?

Training will be provided to each department for the new phones and for the Mitel mail product. We will be contacting each department to appoint a trainer for their area. They will attend the training sessions and return to their departments to explain to the remainder of the department how the new technology works. Hands on training and handouts will be provided. The sessions will be 2 hours in length, with the first hour focusing on the digital phone sets and the second hour to focus on Mitel Mail, and voicemail etiquette. All training will occur during the week of February 14th through the 18th. Classes will be held in OC219, the Distance Education lab.


Phase two involves the introduction and testing of Locus Liaison. Locus is a speech recognition system which allows callers to speak the name of the person, department or service they wish to reach. They can also choose to dial the extension, if they know it. Locus will, in time, be the front-end access to the University. During phase 2, it will be tested by the Physical Resources Department, ensuring that the caller can easily navigate through the system to the destination they wish to reach. An important part of Phase 2 is feedback from the University community on the Locus Liaison product. How easy was it to use and navigate? How can the help menus be modified to further assist the caller in directing them to the correct area? A critical factor in programming Locus is the use of key terms in the greetings and help menus, which will prompt the caller in asking for the correct area. Once the Physical Resources call flow is operating efficiently, a model will be drawn up to migrate the rest of the University to the system.


Phase 3 involves the removal of DID (direct-inward-dial) numbers from those departments who currently have voicemail under the old system, with the move to a single DID for each department. All remaining DID's will become internal extensions. Internal extension numbers will not change. The departments included in phase 3 are:

Conference Center
Development Office
Capital Campaign Office
Financial Services Office

Special Needs
TIP Office
Dean, Arts and Sciences Office and VP Academic
Dean, Research and Graduate Studies Office
VP Administration Office
President's Office

The template developed in phase 2 will be used in phase 3 to incorporate the departments listed above into the Locus Liaison Speech Recognition product. We are working towards a target date of early Summer 2000.


Phase 4 is scheduled to occur during the Summer of 2000. We will migrate the remainder of the University to voicemail and departmental numbers and begin the DID removal. This will be done on a departmental basis, with voicemail implemented first, and, after a short period of time to become familiar with the voicemail, the DID numbers will be removed.


In most cases, the departmental secretary's phone number will become the DID for the academic department and a new internal extension will be assigned to the secretary. All other telephone extensions will remain in place and will work internally within the University. If someone from the outside world wishes to call someone at the University, they will call the new DID associated with the department, followed by the existing 4 digit telephone extension.

For Example:

To reach my number within the Network and Telecommunications department, you would dial: 748-1120. The speech recognition software would welcome you to Trent and prompt you to either "speak the name of the PERSON, DEPARTMENT or SERVICE you wish to reach, or you can dial the extension now." You could say CAROL CARTWRIGHT, VIDEO CONFERENCING BOOKINGS, or dial 1594. All would go to the phone in the office.

DID removal will be planned out in conjunction with departments to determine a cutover date. When the DID numbers are removed, a "Reference of Call" will be provided by Bell for a period of up to one year. When an outside caller dials the old extension, Bell will inform the caller that the number is no longer in service and will provide the caller with the new extension. They will not automatically connect the caller to the new extension.

Network and Telecommunications Services 16/02/00

Back to News & Events

Trent's Crest
Back to Trent's Home Page

Maintained by the Communications Department; last updated: February 17, 2000