Colleges Test VoIP Cellphones

VeriSign's service lets students and faculty use wireless VoIP on campus and their regular wireless carrier outside.

By Jim Wagner | Posted Aug 19, 2005
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Three universities are testing a new service from VeriSign that puts wireless phones on IP networks.

Texas A&M, Northwestern University and the University of Michigan started trials of VeriSign's Wireless IP Connect Service earlier this week. The offering lets students and faculty place cell phone calls over a campus Wi-Fi or commercial wireless carrier network.

Officials see it as a way to keep university members -- students and staff -- connected at all times, using the Wi-Fi network for calls on the campus and the regular phone service off campus.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based IT infrastructure company uses SS7 to manage call-switching from dual-mode handsets to wireless broadband networks and back again, as well as provide security measures like media stream control and firewall management.

The net effect is people with dual-mode phones or devices will be able to use their one phone number to roam across wireless, Wi-Fi and VoIP networks seamlessly using the VeriSign service.

"We've seen tremendous growth in the use of mobile devices by faculty, students and staff on campus," Andrew Palms, University of Michigan's director of communications systems, said in a statement. "We believe that the trial services provided by VeriSign will enhance the ability of our community members to use those devices both inside and outside of buildings, and on and off campus."

Officials at VeriSign were not available for comment at press time, but said in a statement the wireless VoIP offering gives universities and carriers the ability to provide a service under one device, one number and one bill.

VeriSign, known more for its management of the .com and .net registries and digital certificates, has been building up telecommunications support through its Intelligent Communications, Commerce and Content Services group. The company provides not only interoperability services but billing, content and applications and database services for carriers.

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