The yellowing, beige ROLM telephones that have been a fixture in every campus office and residence hall room for nearly 25 years will soon become part of university history.

Following a comprehensive review of proposals from leading telecommunications firms, Virginia Tech’s Network Infrastructure and Services has selected IBM to install unified communications services for the Blacksburg campus.

In addition to replacing the phones that are found in campus offices, the infrastructure that supports campus telecommunications and the services available to the user will be significantly upgraded and improved.

ROLM phones currently placed in residence halls will not be replaced. Students will have the option of bringing their own phone with them and purchasing telephone services from the university.

The $8 million, five-year contract with IBM’s Global Technology Services (GTS) group means work to implement the project will begin in earnest early next year.

“With this contract in place, the Virginia Tech community can begin to look forward to a having well integrated, greatly improved communications services as part of our daily activities,” said William Dougherty, executive director of Network Infrastructure and Services. “We can look forward to a wide range of improvements, from caller ID and more robust conference and collaboration capabilities, to integrated voice, email, and fax messaging, and improved support for cell phones and other mobile devices.”

The initial phase of the project, which will last through much of 2012, will focus on upgrading the core communications infrastructure, and allow the time to plan and design the full scope of the project.

Beginning in late 2012, and extending through 2013 and 2014, Network Infrastructure and Services will migrate users to the new system building by building.

Once the migration is complete, the ROLM telephone and voicemail systems that have served the university since the 1980s will be discontinued.

In addition to the cost of installing the new system, Virginia Tech will invest additional significant dollars to cover the costs of improving the data network infrastructure and building renovations necessary to accommodate the new infrastructure.

“Communication and involvement by the university community is critically important to the success of the unified communications project,” said Dougherty. “We are forming a communications team responsible for keeping the university community informed and engaged throughout the project. The team will utilize multiple communication channels and forums to disseminate information about the project.”

IBM’s Global Technology Services group is a recognized leader in the technology service industry and has significant experience managing large scale enterprise communications projects. The project will be powered by equipment and systems provided by IBM’s principal partner, Avaya, which is a recognized global leader in the enterprise communications market with a strong reputation for innovation and responsiveness.

IBM and Avaya have a proven record of leveraging their combined technologies and expertise to provide clients with robust and capable communications solutions.

Inquiries and suggestions should be directed to Network Infrastructure and Services. Additional information about the project may be accessed via their website.

Susan Brooker-Gross, director for policy and communications for Information Technology, contributed to this story.