WPI Unified Communications Phone System Transition to Zoom - Update


Information Technology

On April 27, we announced to all employees that WPI has made the strategic decision to implement unified communications for voice, video, SMS text, and chat, using Zoom Phone, part of the Zoom suite familiar to our campus.  We’re very excited about the technical improvements we’ll be making to help employees better manage their communications needs.  

We’re writing today with an update on project milestones and what the community can expect next. 

1. Please use External Dialing: When making a call within WPI after June 21, you’ll need to use the full phone number, starting with a 9-1 (i.e., 9-1-508-831-5000). The current Avaya system and new Zoom Phone will not recognize 4-digit extensions in both systems during the transition, so we ask that users get into the habit of external dialing now to ensure your call goes through. Please update your email signatures to replace 4-digit extensions with the full number (i.e., 508-831-5888) as well. When the project is complete, 4-digit dialing will resume. (Please note: this is a clarification of the email sent to the community.) 

2. IT Pilot: IT will be the first department to switch. We will use Zoom phone, with our same extensions, beginning June 21. This includes the IT Service Desk, and you will experience new menus and recordings when you call us. 

3. Department Meetings: The project team is scheduling meetings with contacts in each department, identified by Management Council, who will work with IT to facilitate preliminary department-specific discussions about: 

  • Zoom phone features and functionality, 
  • Users and phone needs, 
  • The best timeline for the department’s transition. 

4. Special Circumstances: We recognize that certain labs, machine shops, and other campus environments have specific concerns regarding safety and related communications, and we are working with the Office of Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) to assess and update phone services in such areas. 

5. Timeline: We aim to complete the transition by mid-December 2023. As departments are scheduled to move, they will be added to the Hub news Unified Communications Zoom Phone Timeline 

6. FAQs:  

  • We’ll continue to update the Zoom Phone FAQs on the WPI Hub as questions are received. Please keep the inquiries coming; knowing what is on your mind helps us assist you and the whole community. 
  • A common question has been, “What will Zoom Phone look like?” This quick video provided by Zoom (also linked from the FAQ) gives an overview. 

7. New Features! Here are several new features we are looking forward to: 

  • Auto Receptionist: A main line can be answered with a personalized recording, present a menu to callers, be routed to one or more extensions, direct voicemail to email, and more.  Your department may choose to take advantage of these improvements or keep current phone processes with the option to do more later. 
  • No VPN: Zoom Phone doesn’t require Virtual Private Network (VPN) for use off-campus. The Zoom app works the same no matter where the device using it is located. 
  • Search by Name: A dial-by-name directory allows callers to search WPI Zoom phone users by entering a first or last name.  

We will send community updates once per month. IT appreciates the community interest, feedback, and collaboration we continue to experience in these early stages of the project. 





Vijay Menta (he/him/his)

Vice President and Chief Information Officer

Information Technology Services

Worcester Polytechnic Institute