Harvard Phone Upgrade

Starting in December 2023, HUIT is making upgrades to the Harvard Phone service infrastructure and functionality to ensure greater platform flexibility for future integration with University collaboration tools and compliance with FCC requirements for E911. HUIT is working closely with schools to complete and support this service upgrade over an extended weekend from January 5 to January 8, 2024.

Harvard Phone service users can expect enhanced Harvard Phone account portal and softphone functionality, without any changes to their desk phone experience. This upgrade provides three main improvements:

    1. Improved safety with a new softphone app: Webex Calling will replace Jabber, enabling softphone users to easily adjust their E911 location based on where they are working
    2. New spam filtering: Reduce the number of unwanted calls with the ability to request a block on callers at the individual phone line level
    3. Instant updates: Update call forwarding, Single Number Reach, and other call features in real-time

What can I expect?


Before the phone system can be upgraded, a snapshot needs to be taken of the entire Harvard phone system. This will be done on 11/30 after 5pm. The snapshot will be used to provision the new system that will go live starting 1/5. Because of this, no changes can be made to the system after this date. This includes moves or changes, new lines, and deinstalls. After 11/30, it is impossible to lock users out of their desk phone or portals.

IT has taken the step to reserve some lines in advance to use during this time for users who need a new Harvard phone number assigned between 12/1/23 and 1/8/24. 

During the upgrade period from 6:00 PM on January 5 to 8:00 AM on January 8, 2024, Harvard Phone and Jabber softphone services will be unavailable. When the upgrade is complete, Harvard Phone and voicemail settings (such as voicemail greetings and passwords) will be restored from a back-up taken on December 1, 2023 in preparation for the upgrade.

During the lockout period from 11/30-1/8, we cannot lock users out of their desk phone or user portals. Therefore, users will still be able to make changes such as reset their voicemail passwords, change their forwarding numbers, etc. However, because the system is locked until 1/8, any changes made during the lockout period will revert to the snapshot taken on 12/1.

What do I need to do?

Before the upgrade begins on January 5, we recommend that users:1. Set up voicemail relay to email in the Harvard Phone account portal to receive voicemail messages directly to your email instead of your voicemail box, even while service is unavailable during the upgrade.

2. If you use the Jabber softphone app, make note of any custom (personal) contact information you want to keep. Custom contacts will not transfer to Webex Calling.

After the upgrade is complete on January 8, we recommend that users:

Review and update Harvard Phone and voicemail settings. Any changes to settings, including voicemail greetings and password resets, made between December 1, 2023 and January 8, 2024 will not transfer to the new system.

During the weekend transition from 1/5-1/8, phone call behavior could be impacted as the migration of lines progresses. Specifically, inbound and on campus calling for phone lines during the maintenance window from Friday evening until all lines complete migration.

Where can I get help?

We will provide more details and additional support on the upgrade and transition to Webex Calling in the next few weeks.If you have any questions or need help, contact harvardphone@harvard.edu or visit the Harvard Phone project site.