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Selecting, implementing total network for 8 Oregon campuses.

A large telecomm installation isn't necessarily daunting because of its technical requirements. Often the most complicated elements of a new network are the ones users never see.

Such was the case with the Oregon State System of Higher Education (OSSHE), where a decade was spent planning a state-of-the-art telecomm network.

OSSHE is composed of eight public, four-year colleges and universities scattered around Oregon, with a combined student population of about 65,000. In 1980, OSSHE decided to upgrade its central computing system, and by 1983 an Information System Resources project was underway. Around that same time, OSSHE began to look at upgrading its telecomm systems, so the projects were combined.

Total Information System (TIS) procurement began to solidify in 1984, with OSSHE defining its comprehensive system requirements.

A competitive RFP for a consultant led OSSHE to select my firm, although our bid was not the lowest. We had extensive experience with academic installations; we also had medical facilities experience.

When the project began, five member campuses had centrex systems and three of the smaller institutions used PBXs from various manufacturers. Calling between universities involved dialing several access codes (up to 14 digits). There was no centralized billing system, although a couple of the campuses did have billing capability.

In addition to fairly primitive telephone systems, OSSHE schools were hampered by geography. The eight sites are situated throughout Oregon with campuses up to 300 miles apart, separated by mountain ranges and wide rivers.

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One prime requirement of OSSHE was that all campuses, regardless of size, location or needs, have the same level of service. They also needed a coordinated dialing plan to eliminate access codes for inter-campus communication.

In addition, OSSHE required five-digit dialing between campuses, feature transparency to the extent that the phone systems would interoperate, and enhanced capabilities such as call forwarding or callback between campuses.

Although the telecomm and data processing portions of the TIS project were technically separate, there was inevitable overlap. For example, the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, a teaching hospital and member of OSSHE, is implementing the Biomedical Information Communications Center (BICC), a project that provides statewide access for physicans to patient records.

Of the vendors who submitted proposals, AT&T was awarded the contract and we continued to work through the implementation process--translating switches and training users.

OSSHE, anxious to have all the necessary equipment in place to support an evolving state-of-the-art network, purchased eight AT&T System 85 switches and one Definity Generic 1. Eight AT&T 3B2 computers with Call Management System software provide statistical reports and track productivity. Centralized System Management (CSM) software provides full system administration, including trunking and routing.

The campus network includes nine call detail recording units (CDRUs) to track long-distance call records for billing. In addition, a centralized call detail recording polling unit checks each CDRU every hour to get call records for transfer to a mainframe computer for processing.

Ten Audix voice messaging systems are networked with feature transparency so OSSHE's 15,000 voice mail subscribers can send and receive messages as if they were all on one campus. The only thing OSSHE did not buy from AT&T was the Cable Master cable management system, which was provided by the Angeles Group.

The Definity system is installed at the Marine Science Center near Newport, 40 miles from the nearest OSSHE campus. It has substantial telecomm requirements of its own. The campuses are connected by a T1 network using AT&T's Digital Communications System (DCS) software, which supports the five-digit dialing system and has total feature transparency.

All campuses use AT&T's Megacom service for long distance.

T1 is also used for data networking, allowing personal computers to access the network through the System 85 switches. Switch administration between campuses uses dial-up data, which is a modemless switched digital network operation at 19.2 kb/s.

Construction began in December 1988 and the first cutover was in April 1989. The last campus was completed in October 1990. The total bill came to about $25 million, including previously unspecified changes that OSSHE made as the project was underway, such as remodeling some equipment rooms or running cables in buildings not in the original contract.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Education; telecommunications for the Oregon State System of Higher Education
Author:Massey, Joseph T., Jr.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:701
Previous Article:University runs computer-to-PBX interfaces.
Next Article:Voice mail links parents, teachers.
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