Currently the University's telephone system is based upon a Centrex design, meaning that all switching is accomplished at the U.S. West Central Office located in downtown St. Cloud. No facilities having to do with routing or switching of calls are located on campus. The University contracts with a local wiring contractor (Diversity Communications) to provide services such as installing, disconnecting, or moving on campus telephone lines. This technology (Centrex) provides the most economical and efficient phone service at this time.
The Centrex system we have today is reliable and cost effective. Installing and operating our own PBX (telephone switching system) does not appear to be a viable alternative because of the high cost of the switch and the labor cost to keep it running. Shortly there will also be alternatives to having U.S. West as our provider of telephone service. At least two other regional telephone companies have expressed considerable interest in supplying SCSU with our current level of telephone technology and in providing advanced services not available from U.S. West.
Many companies are designing telephone systems that will use local area networks (LANs) for intra-campus calling with gateways providing access to the switched public network. Prototypes of IP (Internet Protocol) telephones available plug directly into a network connection jack through a desktop computer. Soon stand alone telephones will be available that connect to the on-campus computer network through a network jack and using the LAN just as computers do today.
SCSU is well situated to take advantage of increased competition and technological evolution in the telephone industry.