Michigan State University (MSU) was founded over 150 years ago. Today, over 10,000 academic and support staff serve more than 50,000 students. MSU was ranked by Times Higher Education as one of the top 100 universities in the world, and in the top 8% of universities in the United States. To continue their commitment to world-class education, the university decided it was time to modernize their communication capabilities.


Michigan State University was relying on an outdated analog communication system that could no longer meet the demands of the organization and was becoming too expensive to maintain. The university was interested in the advanced features of an IP telephony solution that were not available with their current system. MSU was looking to modernize all the existing analog and digital phones to IP while also deploying new IP phones in additional locations. However, the university was concerned with the requirements to upgrade the existing network infrastructure to support the new IP system. The existing voice solution was supported by a CAT3 infrastructure that the university was not willing to rip-and-replace due to concerns of:

  • High costs and permit complications to renovate the older buildings on campus
  • Significantly extended project timelines due to a network overhaul
  • Months of daily disruptions to over 60,000 staff and students
  • Installing hundreds of IDF closets on campus to support the new IP phones exactly where they were needed


While attending the Avaya ENGAGE show, Michigan State University was introduced to Avaya DevConnect Technology Partner NVT Phybridge. Given the customer’s needs, Avaya was confident in recommending Modern LAN Principles and the NVT Phybridge PoLRE® (Power over Long Reach Ethernet) switch solution. The award-winning PoLRE switch, with SmartPathPoE technology, transforms any new or existing CAT3 voice infrastructure into a secure and reliable IP path with power. MSU was impressed with the technology but was unsure if the solution would work in their environment given the immense scale of the project.

NVT Phybridge assisted the university in organizing a no-obligation proof-of-concept to test the solution on campus. After a few simple setup steps, the PoLRE switch transformed the existing and proven voice infrastructure into a robust IP backbone for the new Avaya IP phones. With reach capabilities up to 1,200ft/365m (4 times farther than standard PoE switches), the university could connect their new Avaya IP phones exactly where they were needed without installing IDF closets along the way. Additionally, upgrading multiple buildings on campus would be simple and fast with PoLRE’s repeatable, predictable and scalable deployment methodology.

“The port locking feature on the PoLRE switch has helped us track phone moves for e911 reporting requirements” – Nick Kwiatkowski, Unified Communications Manager at Michigan State University


Thanks to the PoLRE switch, Michigan State University was able to simplify their digital transformation by avoiding years of re-cabling and construction work. The university was able to deploy over 4,000 new Avaya IP phones in buildings where it would have never been possible. “Our older buildings did not have a communication room within 300ft of where we needed the new IP phones. PoLRE’s long reach capabilities allowed us to support the new IP phones exactly where we needed them while connecting each one back to a central location”, said Nicholas Kwiatkowski, Unified Communications Manager at Michigan State University. “PoLRE allowed us to maintain our physically separate network for voice, ensuring our emergency communication system remains operational in the event of a power outage or other event”. By leveraging Modern LAN design principles and innovative switch technologies, MSU was able to:

Improving Outcomes for Customers and Partners

Avaya and NVT Phybridge took a pro-active approach to find new and better ways to support the customer’s IP modernization objectives in a financially and socially responsible manner. By applying Modern LAN Principles and leveraging innovative switch technology, Avaya was able to:

  • Accelerate and increase revenue recognition
  • Collapse sales and deployment cycles
  • Improve their margin
  • Differentiate their market offering with thought leadership and innovation
  • Deliver a great user experience

Using an innovative analytical tool to measure environmental impact, Michigan State University received the highest rating, 5 stars, for their environmentally responsible modernization to IP.

If you have an upcoming IP/IoT modernization project, we would love to help! Click below to book a one-on-one meeting with one of our Digital Transformation Consultants.

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