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Converged Communications Services Quick Reference

Core Services

Non-Core Services

Headcounts for Funding and Billing

Additional Funding and Billing

What is Converged Communications?

Converged communications is the coming together, or convergence, of key communications services delivered over a single network. At Northwestern University these services, all of which are operated by Northwestern Information Technology (IT), include 1) voice services, including local calling and long distance calling; 2) data and video services; and 3) messaging services such as voice mail (Unified Messaging), e-mail, and instant messaging.

Where can I find detailed information about IP-based services and telephones?

View IP-based Services at NU for specific details about Northwestern's IP-based services and the IP Telephone Quick Reference Guide for demonstrations on how to use your IP-based telephone.

How are telecommunications and networking costs affected by the converged communications initiative?

Converged communications provides the means to deliver multiple services in a "bundle" to all University faculty and staff members much the same as what is becoming available in the residential market, thus removing financial disincentives for using technology. However, converged communications blurs the definition of services that used to be delivered via separate technologies and makes traditional charging structures and methods illogical. When the marketplace transitioned from charging for services on a measured or variable basis, Northwestern IT developed a new charging methodology to distinguish and bill for Core Service and Non-Core Service charges.

How are converged communications services at Northwestern funded?

To transition with the technological and marketplace changes associated with converged communications services, Northwestern IT created two classes of services: Core Services and Non-Core Services. Core Services are those communications services required for faculty and staff to be functioning members of the University community. The basis for the Core Services charge is to provide access to all Core Services for all members of the faculty and staff of the University.

Total projected costs for Core Services during each fiscal year are allocated to schools and departments via a Core Services Charge based upon their proportionate share of a weighted headcount calculation. The charge for the entire fiscal year is billed during the first quarter of each fiscal year. No other charge for Core Services is made during that fiscal year. Consequently, usage billings for services included in the Core Services Charge (e.g., local calling and domestic long distance) are no longer made during the year. Because the cost of Core Services is allocated as a bundle, University members cannot pick and choose which Core Services they desire in order to reduce their allocation of costs. Costs for Non-Core Services are charged to schools and departments generally monthly (e.g., international long distance charges) or on a one-time basis (e.g., installation charges). Each year, Northwestern IT reviews and updates the Core Services Charge and the charges for Non-Core Services, and notifies the University community of any changes.

Core Services

What are Core Services?

Core Services are basic converged communications services most commonly used by the University community. Core Services include:

  • Dial tone (basic telephone service)
  • Traditional single line telephone set
  • Local calling
  • Domestic long distance calling
  • Voice mail (Unified Messaging)
  • Data network access (including e-mail access)
  • On-campus wireless access
  • Secure remote access
  • Voice conferencing
  • On-campus commodity Internet connectivity
  • Access to national and international advanced research and education networks
  • Host-based virus protection
  • Network repair services and ordering assistance
  • Central upgrades to the communications infrastructure
  • NU's E-mail Defense System

Service & Equipment Charge List PDF
Affiliates Service & Equipment Charge List PDF

Are services such as a main phone number in a department covered by the Core Services Charge?

Yes. Services such as departmental main numbers, fax lines, and departmental voice mail are considered Core Services.

Is there a limit to the number of data circuits a department may request?

No, but one-time charges are incurred for any new installation. Schools and departments are responsible for any wire pull costs, data circuit activations, and telephone installations. Once the data circuit is established, access to the data network is considered a Core Service.

Is wiring replacement covered as a Core Service?

Not at the present time. During FY2006, Northwestern IT began a multi-year plan to upgrade the network to support converged communications services, and the associated costs are included in the Core Services Charge. However, that plan only deals with communications closets and the wiring between buildings. Wiring within buildings, CAT3 and CAT5, is not included. Northwestern IT has been evaluating wiring within buildings over the last few years and may address this issue as part of an upcoming converged communications rate proposal.

Are voice mail services supported?

Yes. Voice mail is supported. You do not need an IP phone to access voice mail.

Non-Core Services

What are Non-Core Services?

Non-Core Services are charged in addition to the Core Services Charge. They include:

  • Installation and activation
  • IP-based telephone sets (including videoconferencing cameras)
  • Traditional telephone sets for new installations or upgrades
  • Additional line appearances
  • International long distance calling
  • Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) and features
  • Departmental firewalls

Service & Equipment Charge List PDF
Affiliates Service & Equipment Charge List PDF

Can existing telephone users keep the telephones they already have, and will they continue to be charged for them?

Users can keep their existing telephones, and they will not be charged. Northwestern IT does not plan to replace existing telephones unless there is a mechanical problem with them, or unless a physical space is renovated, at which point the infrastructure would be upgraded to include IP capabilities. Northwestern IT deploys IP-based service as the only voice service option in new buildings and newly-renovated buildings, along with the following campus locations:

  • 1800 Sherman Avenue
  • Lurie Building
  • Silverman Hall
  • Harris Hall
  • Bienen School of Music
Is there a charge for transitioning from traditional telephone services to IP-based services?

As Northwestern IT deploys IP-based services across the campuses, transition costs of moving from traditional TDM (time-division multiplexed) voice services to IP services will include the cost of the IP-based desktop telephone and IP data activation.

Is there a charge for a new telephone set?

Traditional single-line telephone sets are included in Core Services and are provided for new installations, and in the event of malfunction, at no additional charge. All other telephone sets (IP-based and traditional) are considered Non-Core. For new installations or upgrades to a set, there is a one-time installation charge for the cost of the set. Costs vary depending upon the type of set (display, speaker, etc.). Users who have existing traditional telephone sets can continue to use them with no additional monthly charge. If the phone malfunctions, Northwestern IT will replace it at no additional cost. If the set breaks as a result of misuse, a Non-Core Service charge will be assessed for a new one. As IP services are rolled out to the University community, a one-time charge for the cost of a new IP-based set and IP wiring will be incurred.

Is there a fee for making changes to services?

Yes. A one-time charge, per occurrence, is associated with making user-requested changes to existing services.

If a user has only one data circuit but wants an IP-based set, is the department charged for an extra data circuit?

If a user wants to use an IP-based set, a second data circuit is required. If there is an existing voice service in the room, Northwestern IT can use existing voice wiring for IP voice services and charge for the IP data activation. If there is no wiring in the room, Northwestern IT will need to pull wire and charge for it accordingly.

Do office relocations, new office spaces, or renovated spaces require IP-based services?

If you have a traditional telephone set and you relocate offices in an existing building, your telephone set will go with you at no charge. If a new telephone installation is required, a Non-Core Service charge will be assessed. If the new or renovated office location is in a new construction area, IP-based service will be deployed. Northwestern IT deploys IP-based service as the only voice service option in new buildings and newly-renovated buildings, along with the following campus locations:

  • 1800 Sherman Avenue
  • Lurie Building
  • Silverman Hall
  • Harris Hall
  • Bienen School of Music
Is there a charge for moving an IP-based set to a new IP-enabled location?

As detailed in the Service & Equipment Charge List PDF, charges are incurred for moving an IP-based set to a new IP-enabled location.

Is there an activation fee for voice mail, even though it's a Core Service?

Yes, there will be a one-time activation charge associated with setting up a new Unified Messaging voice mailbox. There will be no charge to those who already have a voice mailbox.

Do larger voice mailboxes cost more?

No. Unified Messaging voice mailboxes are included as part of the overall Collaboration Services storage quota.

Calculation of Headcounts for Funding and Billing

What headcounts are used to allocate the Core Services Charge?

Headcounts are based on actual counts using Faculty and Staff Information System (myHR) records and Student Enterprise System (SES) records. The headcount includes full-time and part-time registered students, full-time and part-time staff (including temporary staff), and full-time and part-time faculty. Teaching assistants and graduate assistants are only counted once as registered students. Temporary staff members are weighted at 25 percent; part-time students are weighted at 50 percent. All others are weighted at 100 percent. Contributed service faculty in the Medical School are excluded from the headcount.

Are faculty members with multiple appointments counted more than once?

No. Faculty members are counted once and are attributed to the headcount of the department that holds their primary appointment.

Are early admitted/accepted students with limited-use NetIDs counted?

No. Only registered students are included in the headcount.

How often is the headcount taken?

Northwestern IT takes quarterly snapshots of HRIS and student registration data and averages them over the entire year. The headcount itself remains annually retrospective to allow for actual, rather than projected, headcounts.

If a department or school headcount expands, is its budget adjusted accordingly?

The Budget Office and Northwestern IT reviews and updates the funding model each year as part of the Fiscal Year budget planning process, the results of which will result in rate recommendations to the Budget Planning Group. The annual charge for Core Services is a function of the cost of Core Services and the weighted headcounts of all departments over which these costs are allocated. Therefore, headcount increases or decreases alone will not necessarily translate into either increased or decreased charges for Core Services.

Additional Funding and Billing Questions

What accounts does Northwestern IT charge for both Core and Non-Core Services?

Northwestern IT charges Core and Non-Core Services to the accounts that currently receive charges through its existing billing system for voice services and NetID charges, unless otherwise requested by departments. Please contact the Northwestern IT Support Center to request any billing changes.

What accounts are charged under the converged services model?

Accounts are charged as indicated in the following table:

Accounts NUFinancials Description Intended Use
Telecom equip chg (one-time) One-time charge for telephone sets as described in "Is there a charge for a new telephone set?"
Telecom install chg (one-time) One-time charges for installation of new network ports, plus other one-time charges for moves, adds, or changes
Telecom Core Services Annual charge for Core Services access, based on headcount
Intl long distance Monthly charge for international long distance services, based on measured usage; a Non-Core Service
Other Non-Core telecom svcs Monthly charges for all other Non-Core Services
Ext telecom svcs Payments by departments to external telecom service providers, not Northwestern IT (e.g., for cell phones and pagers)

Accounts 76930, 76935, and 76940 cannot be used.

Are sponsored accounts used to support Core Services Charges?

The converged communications charge is not an allowable direct cost on a sponsored project and cannot be assigned to a sponsored account. The converged communications charge, by definition, represents the provision of multiple telecommunications and networking services in a "bundle". The benefit derived by and cost to be assigned to an individual sponsored project from any one of the services within the bundle cannot be readily determined, which is the essential criterion of the Federal government's definition of an indirect cost. In fact, most of the services (e.g., local telephone calls) had been designated as indirect costs to sponsored projects before their inclusion in a bundled format. In addition, the converged communications charge is allocated by person on a once-per-year basis, and not on the basis of usage. This further complicates the allocation basis for sponsored projects. By extension, as the converged communications charge is not an allowable direct charge to sponsored projects, it should not be included in sponsored project proposal budgets.

The following Northwestern IT Non-Core Service that are provided, priced, and metered outside of the bundle may be assigned as direct costs to benefiting sponsored projects:

  • International long distance calls

Questions regarding appropriate Northwestern IT costs on sponsored projects should be directed to your designated grant and contract officer/administrator in the Office for Sponsored Research or Accounting Services for Research and Sponsored Programs.

Is there a Fiscal Year End Closing Adjustment for the Core Services Charge?


What services are available to affiliates (e.g., Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Garrett-Seabury seminaries, Research Park)?

NU affiliates are charged as they have been in the past. If they are interested in the new Core Services charge and Non-Core Service charge, they should contact Northwestern IT Network and Communication Services at 847-467-5560 or

Are authorization codes required for long distance calls?

Authorization codes are to be used to help manage and control telephone use. Their requirement is based on departmental policy.

Do departments get detailed listings of telephone calls on their bills?

Local and domestic long distance calls are included in the Core Services Charge; additionally, departments can receive usage reports upon request. Detailed usage reports are available online through CONDUITS Online. Charges for international calls appear on bills, as they are not included in the Core Services Charge.

Last Updated: 15 June 2018

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