According to the Portage Daily Graphic, the Portage la Prairie School Division recently installed a VoIP system in two of its schools and has since seen savings of $130,000 in a short period of time. The school system has intimated hopes of eventually phasing out all of their traditional intercom systems and replacing them with VoIP systems instead.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) refers to a means of transferring phone calls over the Internet. This VoIP technology allows for affordable extensions for individual users instead of multiple expensive phone lines. In the case of the Canadian schools, they can use these extensions to communicate in place of the schools’ public intercom systems.
Here are some innovative ways to use VoIP technology that could make all the difference for any business that uses an intercom or internal phone system.
1. Scalable Extensions
Business VoIP providers offer scalable service, which allows users to freely add or subtract extensions to their plans. These are much cheaper and easier to install than traditional phone lines and intercom systems, as the Portage la Prairie schools found it would cost $160,000 to repair or replace the intercom system in two schools and just $30,000 to set up VoIP service instead.
In a school system, these phone extensions are connected to each classroom’s telephone, just as desk telephones are set up in an office. With VoIP service, internal calls within the school are free and unlimited. Also, if other schools in the division have the same VoIP provider, schools can call one another at no additional charge regardless of the distance between schools or the duration of the phone call as all VoIP to VoIP calls are free.
These extensions also allow teachers to privately communicate with the front office or other teachers over the telephone rather than publicly for the entire class to hear.
2. Group Paging
Many top VoIP providers offer Group Paging at no extra cost. Group Paging lets a user preprogram a set of numbers, and then dial one extension to reach all of those numbers at once.
This could benefit schools as a security measure that allows one classroom to reach all other classrooms simultaneously with one number. It also lets one school contact all other schools in the district at the same time with just one call.
This mass calling feature is a helpful alert option in the event of a potential threat or lockdown situation.
3. Voicemail to Email
The complimentary Voicemail to Email option sends an mp3 of a voicemail directly to the user’s email address. This decreases the likelihood of missed voice messages.
A teacher could benefit from this option if the voice message is sent directly to his or her smartphone. If the teacher and students are outside at recess, the teacher can instantly review the voicemail from a mobile device. When a student needs to leave early, or there is an emergency, the teacher is notified immediately.
4. IP Paging
For school services not ready to ditch traditional analog intercom systems, some VoIP providers offer digital intercoms. These IP paging systems are more flexible and affordable to install.
With IP paging, classrooms still have telephones, but when one teacher pages another, the phone goes to straight through to speaker phone rather than ringing. Again, if an emergency situation arises, this features provides a quick and efficient alert system.