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VoIP telephone technology keeps students in touch

Students at the University of Portsmouth and their families will have access to free phone calls via their computers, thanks to a new scheme being implemented in student halls of residence.

The University has installed new facilities which will provide students with cheap telephone calls to families and friends – and in some cases for free - using Voice over IP (VoIP) technology. Access to over 25 television channels is also part of the package in student halls.

Portsmouth was the first university in the UK to sign up for the ‘triple-play’ system provided by Inuk Networks and its VoIP system, Freewire. The project is part of an IT upgrade in student halls and utilises the free broadband service already in place in all halls.

Students can make and receive calls using new handsets in their rooms, or they can download free software to their computers allowing them to make calls over the internet.

They will see a virtual phone that appears on their PC or laptop screen and which has all the functionality of a normal phone does, plus a few extras such as audio and video conferencing.

Telephone calls are free between Freewire users so those parents anywhere in the world with a home computer can also download the free software allowing students to talk to their families without paying any call charges and vice versa. Calls to landlines and many international destinations such as China cost less than one pence per minute.

The 25 free television channels are of broadcast quality and include several foreign channels which will appeal to the University’s many international students, including Phoenix Television, a Chinese broadcaster and other channels in Arabic, Greek, French and German.

Andrew Minter, the University’s IT Director, said: “We believe that making it easier for students to stay in touch with their families and friends back home will help them to settle in. Providing students with free television channels is an added bonus which we hope they will enjoy.”

The new service is ready to go live in all student halls of residence in time for the new academic year which starts on 27 September.

Parents who attend the University’s welcome receptions between 27-30 September can collect a set of headphones to use with their home computer which will allow them to make hands-free calls.

The University and Inuk Networks will showcase the new technology throughout the welcome events and they are expecting overwhelming interest.

Marcus Liassides is the CEO of Inuk Networks. He said: “We have worked very closely with the University of Portsmouth and had invaluable input from them during the process of developing and fine-tuning our product for the university market.”

Lisa Egan | alfa
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