JBSA-Lackland phone system migrating to Voice over Internet Protocol

  • Published
  • By Steve Elliott
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Phone users at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland will notice improvements in service and other useful features as the installation begins to transfer from an outdated analog system to a Voice over Internet Protocol system.

“The 502nd Communications Squadron has taken the lead in transitioning the JBSA-Lackland phone system to Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP,” said Matthew D. Gonzalez, one of the VoIP migration project managers. “The current analog phone system, which services all of JBSA-Lackland, JBSA-Kelly Field Annex, JBSA-Chapman Training Annex, Security Hill and all tenant units are scheduled to sundown.”

The transition is the result of the Department of Defense Chief Information Office’s mandate to transition to internet protocol-based technology by end of the fiscal year 2023.

“The existing JBSA-Lackland system is a 38-year-old phone system that utilizes legacy technology to route calls over copper lines, which has reached end-of-life and end-of-support,” said Lee Shannon, JBSA-Lackland Chief Planning and Implementation with the 502nd CS. “This phone switch currently services approximately 21,125 subscribers, but is the oldest in the AETC and Air Force inventory.”

Based on the system's age, switch troubles are causing a larger than normal maintenance effort to ensure the survivability, reliability, and availability of this legacy voice technology. As a result, JBSA-Lackland reports the highest number of open local trouble tickets.

“JBSA-Randolph has already completed the transition to VoIP, and we are looking at starting this project for JBSA-Lackland customers Sept. 1, once our core equipment is installed at each telephone switch location,” Lee said. “We are trying to get this completed by Oct. 1, 2023, to meet the DOD CIO mandate.” 

“This migration will not affect the desk phone number you currently have assigned to you. All users will retain their current phone number,” said Thomas Burke, one of the VoIP migration project managers. “Users should eventually see an increase in service capability with VoIP over the legacy voice technology.” 

“Users will notice the change when they are transitioned, as most of the base will get a headset and a software application, where your phone is on your laptop,” Lee said. “As users telework more and more, this capability will enable them to answer their office phone right from the laptop at home – this is called a ‘soft phone.’ We will also offer a desk phone, or ‘hard phone,’ for users that will be a different instrument, as it is a VoIP phone.” 

As a baseline, 80% of unit personnel will receive a soft phone with the remaining personnel receiving a VoIP desktop phone.

“The upcoming JBSA migration will be handled in a phased approach to minimize disruption,” Gonzalez added. “It is critical that each unit provide a POC to work with the 502nd CS project manager to better posture your units with this future VoIP roll-out.

Burke noted that non-AETC units will need to coordinate with their major commands to gain VoIP licenses and some costs may be associated with VoIP phones.  AETC units have been funded for this transition; non-AETC units will need to work with their major command to obtain funding. 

“Each mission partner’s unit VoIP point of contact will be critical in helping define any requirements and actions your unit may have through a coordinated effort to plan, program, and schedule each unit’s migration to VoIP,” Burke said. “Close collaboration between each unit’s point of contact and the 502nd CS points of contact will help this migration go as smoothly as possible. However, brief periods of phone service interruption are to be expected during the service transfer.”

“In accordance with the mandate, the 502nd CS has been slowly migrating subscribers to the latest VoIP technology platform over the last few years,” Gonzalez said. “However, the 502nd CS requires each unit’s support to help define where your unit will fit in the future roll-out execution timeline by identifying a primary and secondary contact for your unit to help with the transition.”

For more information or questions about the JBSA-Lackland migration to VoIP services, call Matthew Gonzalez at 210-925-3916 or Thomas Burke at 210-925-3681.