The new IP telephones depend on electrical power being available in the building in which they're located. This is different from the old analogue telephones, which only required power to be available at the exchange/PBX. As a result, there are some important limitations people need to understand.
No power redundancy
The phone project does not provide for redundant power to any IP telephone. This means that if there's a power outage that affects your building, your phone will probably not work.
The telephones are dependant on the underlying network. In the same way as above, our network design does not provide for redundant power for the local network in any building. If there is a power outage, your network point probably doesn't work either. (i.e. even if you have a laptop with battery, you might not get network connection).
The network design does try to ensure that you're only affected by local power outages. Thus all the network distribution infrastructure does have redundant power. The general principle is that if there is power in your building, the network (and hence the telephones) should work, irrespective of power outages elsewhere on campus.
Each regional distribution centre has a UPS (battery) that provides two to three hours of power in the event of a power failure. Our core facilities (including the new PBXes) have standby generators that provide power indefinitely.
The local network in some buildings has redundant power and people in these buildings may find that their phone does continue to work. This is usually where the local infrastructure is co-located with regional distribution infrastructure, and piggy-backs off the redundant power provided for distribution. Unless specific arrangements have been made (see below) this is merely a coincidence and no guarantees whatsoever will be made — the IT Division may chose to redeploy such equipment at a future date if our own operational requirements dictate this.
Emergency calls during power outages
In many of the larger buildings on campus there are dedicated emergency phones. These phones remain traditional analogue phones, and continue to work even in prolonged power outages. More details of emergency phones are available.
Those in residences or smaller buildings are likely to be concerned about the unavailability of phones during power outages. This issue has been widely discussed at every phase of the phone project and the general consensus was that most people now have cellular telephones (either privately or otherwise) and that they tend to use those phones to make emergency calls in any event. Thus the cost of providing redundant power to every building (several million Rand) was weighed against the potential gains and risks, and the University has decided to accept the risk.
If you need to make an emergency call during a power outage, please use your cell phone. Note that Campus Protection's phones continue to work even during prolonged outages, and they can also make emergency calls on your behalf. You might want to make a note of their emergency contact number.
Some areas of the University may deem it important or critical that their phones continue working during power outages for operational (as opposed to emergency) reasons. The phone project does not make provision for this, and is not in a position to determine the relative merits of such cases. It does, however, recognise that this might be important and thus makes provision for affected departments or divisions to provide the necessary power redundancy at their own expense.
This would involve installing one or more UPSes (batteries) on the network infrastructure between the telephone(s) and the nearest network distribution point, usually in another building. The IT Division can provide details of the exact equipment required (make, model, price, etc) and will install such equipment. However the purchase price and the ongoing maintenance costs (replacement batteries, etc) would be for the department or division concerned's account.
The exact cost of doing this will vary from building to building, and also depends on the maximum duration of the power outage that needs to be catered for (providing longer backup times costs more money). Thus departments or divisions interested in doing this should contact the IT Division for specific details.