I.T. Working To Resolve Issues With Voicemail Response Time

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Information Technology administrators said last week they expect recent problems with the University's voicemail to ease as the semester continues, and that future improvements also will help the system function better.

IT reported hearing numerous complaints that the administrative voicemail system for 552 numbers was performing sluggishly during certain peak usage times. Callers have had to wait longer than usual before receiving voicemail greetings and options, while users have encountered similar delays in gaining access to the system and hearing messages.

Systems and Network Services Director Rodney Feak said Tuesday that a hardware problem involving the telephone switch and voicemail system appeared to be causing most of the difficulties. Technicians corrected the problem late last week, he said, and service reportedly had been functioning normally as of Tuesday morning.

But Feak and other administrators say IT has concluded that the voicemail system is at full capacity for the number of users in the 552 exchange, and they are pursuing short- and long-term solutions to the problem. As unfortunate as the experience is, they note, it illustrates the rapid, widespread influence of technology in the University community.

"You could call it a good news-bad news situation," said Office of Information Technology Director Martin Smith. "The good news is, voicemail is a great form of technology that in a relatively short time has been embraced throughout Boston College. This readiness to utilize a new technological resource is encouraging, given that the University is committed to a major role for technology in its academic and non-academic services.

"The bad news, of course, is that it's been frustrating for the user community to have these difficulties occur," Smith continued. "But we have been monitoring the situation and are working to resolve the problems with access and response time. Our goal is to produce a system that is steady, reliable and always available."

IT administrators said the recent problems stem largely from two factors. The beginning of a new semester, combined with the return of students, faculty and staff to campus created a larger-than-normal demand on the system, they said, one which should decline during the next few weeks.

However, the administrators noted, an increasing number of users in the 552 exchange have set up more elaborate voicemail menus. This usually entails a longer period for callers to hear and select options, and thereby slows down the system overall.

As a short-term measure, IT administrators recommended that users log into the voicemail system during periods when it under less demand. Peak usage usually occurs between 9:15 and 11 a.m., and 1-3 p.m., they said.

IT plans to upgrade the system during the summer, according to Feak, to incorporate recent developments in the technology and also provide graduate students with voicemail. In addition, he said, IT will move voicemail accounts with menu options to another system, which will help improve response time.

In the meantime, any network or desktop technology problems should be reported to the Help Center, ext. 2-4357.

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