Project Overview

NIU's Board of Trustees has approved a project to move the legacy phone system to Microsoft Teams Voice. The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) is currently working with a vendor to help plan and execute a phased rollout of Teams Voice to campus. We anticipate the rollout to occur over the course of several months, beginning in January 2022. This webpage will be updated with additional information, including timelines and training information, as we progress in planning.

Teams Voice

Teams Voice uses Microsoft Teams to make and receive external calls using our 753 or 752 numbers and works right within the Teams interface on a computer or mobile device. Teams Voice provides modern calling options such as voicemail to email, call history, call blocking, call transferring, call forwarding, and much more. Teams Voice will allow NIU employees to take their 753 or 752 numbers with them wherever they are working. 

Teams Voice Benefits to users

  • Your 753 or 752 phone number will be moved to Teams Voice.
  • Voicemail transcription is within the Teams application and sent to Outlook.
  • Call people by name or number, not just by number.
  • Improved directory searching capability.
  • Centralized hub for collaboration, meetings, and calls.
  • Improved accessibility and integration with compatible TTY devices.
  • Supports work-from-anywhere situations without the need for a or having to take a physical phone with you.
  • Web, mobile, and desktop applications for Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android, and Linux.
  • Easily set vacation or other out-of-office notices on your phone.

Teams Voice Benefits to NIU

  • Greatly reduces the risk of catastrophic phone system failure such as the outage in 2013 that resulted in no incoming calls for 36 hours.
  • Utilizes licensing already included in the NIU's Microsoft agreement.
  • Supports flexibility for telecommunications capabilities offsite for various scenarios.
  • Fosters collaboration.


Estimated Timeline

Teams Voice - Estimated Timeline

Teams Voice Project FAQs

Why are we changing phone systems?

There are multiple reasons why NIU is making this change:

  • The current phone switch was installed over 35 years ago and is no longer manufactured or under warranty. The supportability of the phone switch has become inadequate with a shrinking number of vendors providing support and replacement parts becoming more expensive and increasingly difficult to source.
  • The current phone switch was designed to support four times the amount of NIU's current calling volume. With email, cell phones, and an increasing amount of collaboration taking place over Teams and Zoom, the average monthly outgoing call volume is about 6 calls per month for 95% of the assigned phone numbers at NIU with approximately 2000 phone numbers not making any calls.
  • The age of the existing phone switch presents limitations to enhancing voice services such a voicemail transcription, integration with our Microsoft 365 collaboration platform, and geo-redundancy to limit downtime.
  • High operating and support expenses of nearly $2M can be reduced by nearly $400K by moving our voice services to Microsoft Teams.
Why Teams Voice?
Microsoft Teams is a proven communication solution at NIU with remote faculty and staff using Teams for meetings and collaboration with or without external participants. Because of the rising adoption of Teams at NIU, the seamless integration of the voice solution within Teams, the ability to work with our NIU directory contacts and external contacts, and the recent innovations spurred by the worldwide remote working trend, the move to Teams as a voice provider made more sense than other competitors in the Voice over IP space.
What is changing with Teams Voice?

There are several changes that Microsoft Teams Voice introduces.  Here are some highlights:

  • Phone numbers are no longer associated with a device. Instead, the phone number is associated with your account.  This means that you can make and receive calls to/from your work phone number on any device that you are logged in to Teams with.
    • You can make and receive calls using your work number from anywhere.
    • You can access your phone via the Teams desktop app, the Teams web app, or the Teams mobile app.
    • There is no longer a need to have multiple phone numbers if you have multiple offices.
    • There is no longer a need to forward calls to your cell phone.
    • There is no longer a need to mask your personal cell phone or home phone number when making calls if you are still working remotely.
  • You can search/call by name or by dialing the full 10-digit phone number.
  • Voicemails will be delivered to you via multiple mechanisms by default.
  • You can access voicemails from the Teams app as an audio file and a supplemental transcription.
  • Voicemails will also be emailed to you with a transcription and an attached audio file.
  • If the caller is an internal NIU constituent, the email will come from the caller.  This means that you can reply to the email and continue the conversation via email if you wish.
How do I prepare?
Ensure you have Teams installed. Teams is likely installed on your computer but If not, you can download and install the Teams client

Let your business manager know if you no longer need a 753 phone number and wish to not have a 753 number ring in Teams. DoIT will work with campus business managers to identify opportunities to disconnect unused phone lines to cleanup before the rollout to campus.
How do I know if I need a Teams Voice number?

A Teams Voice number is required to make or receive “traditional” voice calls outside of NIU.  “Traditional” simply means that the person on the other side of the call could be using a normal phone, a cell phone, a digital phone, etc.   For instance, calling a prospective student, or an outside vendor, would be considered a “traditional” call.   A Teams Voice number is not required for Teams calls/meetings with students, faculty, or staff, that are in the NIU directory.  It is also not required for Teams or Zoom meetings with external parties.  Teams will work as it does today for those cases, without a Teams Voice number.  Here are some tips to help decide if you need a Teams Voice number.

  • If your NIU work duties require you to make or receive traditional calls from students or non-NIU faculty/staff – you need a Teams Voice number.
  • If your NIU work duties require you to make or receive traditional calls from NIU faculty/staff – you need a Teams Voice Number. 
  • If you prefer to use an NIU phone number to make or receive work related calls – you need a Teams Voice Number. 
  • If you only interact with NIU employees via Teams/Zoom meetings today – you do not need a Teams Voice number.
  • If you only interact with non-NIU faculty/staff via Teams/Zoom meetings today - You do not need a Teams Voice number
What will happen with my existing desk phone?Updated
With the move to Teams Voice, all telephone services will be delivered over the network through the Teams client.  Your existing desk phone will no longer function for making or taking calls after your 753 number is moved to Teams.  DoIT Field Services is visiting campus locations, after they have moved to Teams Voice, to remove old phones for surplus through an e-waste process.  PLEASE LEAVE YOUR DESK PHONE IN PLACE AND PLUGGED IN.  This is necessary so the Field Services team can locate the phone and remove the switch cabling.
Will my call center still use RingCentral?
Call centers will continue to use RingCentral in the near future. DoIT will evaluate Teams as a call center solution in a later phase of the project. If Teams can handle our call center workload, then DoIT will work with call centers to migrate RingCentral configurations to Teams Voice.
When will my department move?Updated

Most single-line phone number users will move to Teams by May 2023.  The project team will communicate to employees directly to confirm their phone numbers and user IDs, then again when a move date is confirmed, and once more after the move to Teams Voice is complete.

A separate planning effort is taking place in parallel to the single-line migration to address department main lines, shared lines, ACDs, and analog lines such as elevator, lab, and blue-light phones.

What will happen to our department/shared phone lines? New

Just like personal work lines, your department/shared phone lines will also move to Teams Voice. To accommodate any extensions requiring advanced handling, MS Teams offers three options: 

  • MS Teams Call Queues: for lines requiring multiple agent monitoring. 
  • MS Teams Auto-Attendant: for lines with special call routing needs such as menu navigation, customized operating hours, special call flows for holidays or off-hours, etc. 
  • A combination of both

Currently, the project team is working on moving personal work lines along with those that can simply serve as call queues (in parallel researching the auto-attendant functionalities for future migrations). To assist in this process, we created a Teams Voice Call Queue Request Form, which will need to be filled out by a designated departmental representative. As we are trying to accommodate departmental call queue requests, some additional communication regarding customer preferences, processes, and responsibilities may be necessary.  

Any agents (employees assigned to monitor department/shared phone lines) must be migrated prior to or along with that extension. 

Will I receive training?
All employees will be invited to attend a "New Teams Voice User" live-virtual training session near the date of their move to Teams Voice.
Will I keep my phone or receive a new phone?
The current phones across the university are not compatible with the new system because of their age. DoIT will be reclaiming phones as part of the campus rollout to be surplussed later. We anticipate that in very select cases installing a physical Teams certified phone is the only viable solution for a unit.  These cases will by and large be scenarios where using a computer to make/receive calls is impractical.  An example might a building phone that allows any user to call out, a central phone in a department that is accessed by many employees to answer calls to their department line, or possibly a PolyCom unit in a conference room.  DoIT is evaluating these scenarios to determine the appropriate solution and will provide guidance to departments during the rollout.
Will I need a headset?
The Microsoft Teams application is considered a "soft phone", meaning that the calling capabilities exist in software and do not require a traditional handset to make and receive calls.  Microsoft offers the Teams application as a web application; a desktop application for Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux; and a mobile application for Android and iOS.  Computer speakers/microphone or any Bluetooth or wired headset will work with the Microsoft Teams application, though there are "Teams Certified" devices.  The difference between a Teams Certified device and any other headset or earbud(s) is that a Teams Certified device will be able to control the Teams application, i.e. mute, volume control, etc.  Using a standard headset requires users to control their calls from the Teams application.

DoIT is providing these headsets as part of the rollout.  Alternative Teams certified headsets or speakerphones can be acquired by the department.
Can students use Microsoft Teams?Updated

Students, student employees, and graduate assistants have full access to all the Microsoft Teams features except the external calling capability.  Students cannot make true "phone calls" from the "Calls" area of Teams due to licensing limitations but can take and make calls to any other employee or student inside the NIU directory. 

If external calling capabilities are required for a student worker, please see the “How do I request a new Teams Voice number?” section below to request a student worker phone number and/or Teams Voice license.

Will 911 work in Teams Voice?Updated

Yes, Teams Voice will route 911 calls to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) as existing phones did.  Some additional work is needed to ensure a location for every caller on campus is automatically transmitted to the PSAP.  This means, that in some cases, a 911 caller might be asked for their street address during an emergency call or when calling 911 from Teams off-campus.

You can verify your emergency location from your Teams client in the section under the dial-pad in the Calls screen.  If you see “Location not detected” this means either you’re not on campus or you are on campus and are in one of the locations whose network data is not populated in the Teams locations database.  Again, this is being actively worked on.  If you call 911 with a “Location not detected” indicator, then you will be routed to a national emergency call center who will ask for your location before connecting you to your local PSAP.  If you do see a location populated, this is what Teams has as your current emergency location and that is the location that will be sent to the PSAP, without the need for a call center.  If you chose, you can add your current emergency location by selecting “Location not detected” and populating your street address.  Manually entering your emergency location does not stay permanently.

As a note, using a cell phone for an emergency call should eliminate the need to provide an address.

Using Teams Voice FAQs

When do I need a Team vs. Group Chat vs. a Teams Meeting vs a "Call"?
  • A Team is used for departmental conversations, projects, and other activities in which there is a defined group of people focusing on a specific activity.

  • A chat or group chat is used more for impromptu discussions and private chat conversations. 

  • Calls are generally used for making and receiving calls to people outside of the university. 

  • Teams meetings are for more formal scheduled virtual meetings that can include NIU employees, students, and external contacts. Teams Voice will provide each Teams Meeting with a call-in number for those not using the Teams application.

  • Every Team that is created also creates a SharePoint site behind the scenes, so if you have a departmental SharePoint site or shared drive, creating a Team is a great mechanism to make interacting with SharePoint document repositories easier.
How to I setup a voicemail greeting?

In the Teams client, select your profile picture in the upper-right and select Settings > Calls. In the Voicemail section, click Configure voicemail.  From there you can change the settings including Call answer rules, Greeting language and other.

How do prevent incoming calls after hours or when I’m on a Teams meeting?

The easiest way to ignore incoming calls is to change your Teams status to “Do not disturb”.  

The “Do not disturb” status will prevent incoming calls when you’re in a meeting or wish to not take calls, such as after work hours.  By default, the unanswered call will forward to voicemail.  The handling rules for unanswered calls can be reviewed and changed in Settings > Calls > Call answering rules section.

All statuses can be set on a duration basis if desired.  Select Duration within the status section to apply a status for a chosen period.  For instance, you can select Duration and choose your status to be “Do not disturb.” Until tomorrow.

How do I block unwanted calls?New

To block external callers that have called you:

  • Click on the Calls tab on the left side of your screen
  • Click on the History option in the Calls menu
  • Locate the external phone number you wish to block
  • Click on the …(More options) button
  • From that menu, click the option to Block
  • The number is now added to your block list in your Settings

To block all external calls with no caller ID:

  • Click on your person icon in the top-right corner of your screen
  • Click the option for Settings
  • Click the option for Privacy in the tabs on the left side of the Settings menu
  • Under Blocked contacts, select the option to Block calls with no caller ID
How do I setup a secondary ringer?
A secondary ringer is useful if you would like incoming calls to ring to your computer speakers rather than your headset.  You can setup a secondary ringer in Teams by identifying your secondary device in Settings > Devices > Secondary ringer.
How do I forward calls from a regular desk phone to a Teams Voice number?”

Single Line

Call Forward - Activate or Cancel (*72 / *73)

Forward incoming calls to another NIU extension.

  • Dial *72
  • Enter the seven digit NIU number to which your calls are to be forwarded.
  • To cancel, dial *73


Call Forward

  • Without lifting the handset, press the Call Fwd key once.
  • The LCD next to the Call Fwd key flashes.
  • Dial the extension number to which calls are forwarded.
  • Press the Call Fwd key again to activate.
  • To Cancel press the Call Fwd key once; the LCD next to the Call Fwd key will go off.

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