FAQs about the NEW telephone system (Cisco desk phones & Webex softphone)


Target audience: McGill faculty and staff members

This article contains FAQs about McGill's NEW telephone system, using Cisco IP desk phones and the Webex softphone app.

Moving to the new phone system:

Physical phone installation and use:

Webex app installation and use:

Webex basic softphone features:

Special cases:

Questions about your phone number and listing in the Directory:

Moving to the new phone system

Will my phone number change when moving to the new phone system?

Most existing phone numbers will not change. However, if your current phone number has an extension, e.g., 514-398-4400 ext. 00023 you will be given a new 10-digit phone number. McGill numbers will begin with 514-398, 399 or 396.

How will dialing change with the new system?

What are the benefits of the softphone app versus physical desk phone?

All McGill employees will have access to the Cisco Webex app, which can be used to make phone calls from your computer, mobile phone or tablet. This softphone solution is more flexible, and is consistent with the communication and collaboration experience in Microsoft Teams and Zoom. It is is adequate for most employee needs; however, if you need a physical phone, you may ask your department to order one instead of a headset.

Will I get a new phone or a headset to use with the softphone?

The decision of which employees will receive physical phones versus headsets will be left to each department and may depend on your needs according to your role:

The University has defined sustainability objectives for the Telephone Evolution Project aimed at reducing our footprint related to physical phones. Our objective is to reduce the number of physical phones by at least 20% and move those users toward the headset and softphone. While ambitious, the project team feels that this can be achieved, as many alternatives are now offered (headsets, mobile app, etc.) and as the past year fundamentally shifted the way most of us integrate communication technology in our daily work -- away from traditional telephony and toward a richer web conference experience, able to support hybrid work models.

Departments will therefore be expected to help reach this objective and will be allocated a budget based on the number of existing phones (with a maximum value of 80% physical phones and 20% headsets). Each department will decide how to distribute physical phones or headsets to its employees. Additional equipment may be purchased and paid for by the department. Departments will also be responsible for purchasing equipment for new hires and replacing any lost or broken equipment.

What phone and headset models are available?

When will my department be moving to the new phone system?

Migrations are currently being scheduled on a per-building basis at the beginning of each quarter. Only buildings that have been upgraded to the new network infrastructure will be able to have physical phones installed. The Telephone Evolution Project team will contact Building Directors and Telephone Coordinators once the building has been selected for migration.

Will emergency extensions, such as 3000 and 7777 be maintained?

Security and emergency numbers 3000, 7777 and 911 will continue to work with the new system. If you dial 911 within Webex or on a Cisco phone, it will contact the local emergency service as well as McGill's Downtown campus.

Will 5555 (emergency extension from the MNH/MNI) and 8888 (used to reach other MUHC extensions) be maintained in the Cisco system?

No. Those extensions will not be maintained in the new Cisco telephone system. The MUHC will also be moving to its own new phone system, and those extensions may be changing for them as well in the future.

Physical phone installation and use

Do the physical phones require telephone wall jacks?

The new phone system is internet-based, so physical phones will not require a telephone jack, but they will require a network jack; it can share the same network jack as your computer. You will not require two network jacks.

How do I install and set up a new Cisco desk phone?

See Get started with your Cisco desk phone - Connecting your phone, Provision your Cisco phone, and Set up your Cisco PIN and record your voicemail greeting

What are the features of the Cisco model 8811 phone?

See Get started with your Cisco desk phone - Cisco 8811 labeled diagram, and Functions and settings on a Cisco desk phone

Webex app installation and use

Is the Webex app for phone calls the same as the Webex Meetings app?

Currently there are two separate apps. The one you will need to install for making calls is simply called "Webex" (it used to be called Webex Teams, but Cisco simplified the name to avoid confusion with Microsoft Teams). Cisco plans to merge Webex Meetings into Webex, so eventually there will be only one app.

Is the Webex softphone app available in French?

The Webex app will be installed in the language of your operating system; e.g., if your computer has Windows in French, the French version of Webex will be installed.

Is VPN required to use Webex from off campus?

No. You do not need to connect to the VPN to use the Webex app. However, you will need the VPN to access the Cisco Self Care Portal, where you go to set up your PIN, Single Number Reach and other options.

If I'm using the Webex mobile app while travelling will there be roaming charges?

The Webex mobile app uses data rather than the phone network. If you want to make or receive calls while traveling, but do not want to incur data roaming changes, keep your Data Roaming OFF on your mobile phone and use the app while connected to a free Wi-Fi network.


NOTE: About international calling

The international calling option is not required if you are overseas and using Webex to call Canada or the U.S. However, if you are overseas and you want to make a call to the front desk of your hotel, that would require us to enable international calling, because it is as if you were placing that call from McGill University, in Montreal.

If I'm working from home on my laptop and Webex is running on another computer, at McGill, how will that work?

You cannot be signed into the phone service in Webex on two computers at the same time. Therefore, when you are at home and you access Webex, you will see a popup prompt telling you that you will be disconnected from the Webex service on your work computer (and vice versa). If you notice that your phone service is disconnected on the computer you're working on, click Sign Out from the options under your profile picture in Webex and launch the app again to sign in.

Basic calling features

Can I forward my McGill number to another phone?

Yes. You can Forward your McGill number to another phone number. Note that when your calls are forwarded, you will not receive incoming calls on your Webex app.

You can also set up "Single number reach", which allows you to specify additional number(s) where you want to be able to receive calls; you can set up a detailed schedule to suit your work hours and location. With Single number reach, your incoming calls will ring on Webex as well as the additional number(s). Find instructions for these features in the article Call forwarding and Single Number Reach in the Cisco phone system.

How do I record / change my greeting?

First make sure you have set up your PIN for Cisco Voicemail.

Then dial 514-398-8227 from within the Webex app or press the Voicemail button on your Cisco physical phone to access the Voicemail system. See Get started with Cisco Webex softphone calling or Get started with your Cisco desk phone for detailed instructions.

How do I check my voice messages?

Your voice messages will be saved to Outlook as well as the Webex app. If you have a Cisco physical phone, there is a button on the phone that goes directly to the voicemail system.

You can also call 514-396-1000 from any telephone to access the McGill-wide voicemail system; when calling in you will be prompted to enter your McGill phone number (ID) and Cisco PIN. See Voicemail in the Cisco telehone service

Why am I missing incoming phone calls when I am at my computer?

If you notice messages or missed phone calls, but you were on your computer, it may be because the Webex app was not running, or you have your calls Forwarding to another number. Webex needs to be running (at least in the background) in order for you to hear and see incoming calls. By default when you install Webex, it should be set to launch when your computer starts up -- check this setting under Settings > General. If you click Sign Out or Exit Webex the app will be closed and you will have to relaunch the app.

What is the maximum number of people that can participate in an audio call?

Up to 4 people can participate in an audio call. If you need to have more people on the call you can schedule a Webex meeting.

What's the difference between choosing "Call on Webex" vs. clicking on the person's phone number?

Call on Webex is similar to an audio or video call on Microsoft Teams; there is really no advantage to using Webex over Teams for internal McGill calls. However, if you want to include a McGill person on an audio call with an external number, click their work phone number and you will be able to connect both parties. See Known issues and workarounds for Webex for additional explanation.

How do I make long distance or international calls?

Calls within Canada and the U.S. are available without any special request.

For international calls, your telephone coordinator can request that feature be turned on for your telephone number.

How do I learn more about Webex softphone features?

Watch the video to learn what you can do in Webex:

Special cases

I am a delegate for my supervisor; will I be able to answer their number?

Yes. The new system will support multiple numbers on a single account. Based on the configuration you currently have, when you are moved into the new system you will be set up with similar capabilities.

I typically have my office assistant screen my calls and I don't want my personal number displayed when I return calls. Can I have my number masked?

Yes, if you are a Director, Dean or VP, you may request that your personal number be masked for outgoing calls by submitting a Telephone request form.

In my unit we have a centrally located phone that is answered by whoever is working in the office; how will that work?

The new system will support "area phones" which can be associated with a group of users. This will allow you to answer the physical phone as well as answer that phone number from the Webex softphone app.

We will also maintain "courtesy phones" which are physical phones in central locations, such as reception areas, that can be used by anyone to make calls, but not receive incoming calls.

I need to process credit card payments over the phone; can I do this with Webex or do I need a physical phone?

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulation is very strict and specific, and McGill's network does not support some of these stringent requirements; therefore, neither Webex nor the Cisco physical phones can be used to receive and process payment card information from callers. If you need to process payment card data, contact the IT Service Desk and the Telephone service team will assess your needs and propose a solution.


NOTE: Using the Cisco phone to make purchases with a P-card or other payment card

It is safe to use the Cisco phone system (physical phone or Webex) to provide McGill P-card or other type of payment card information to make purchases from a vendor who is PCI-compliant. The PCI regulations only apply to the party that is accepting and processing payment card information.

Questions about your phone number and listing in the Directory

How will phone numbers be assigned to new staff, and what happens when a staff member transfers to another unit?

As part of the onboarding process, the unit's telephone coordinator would fill in a Staff Directory request form to give the employee a new phone number or to reuse an existing departmental number (e.g. the office administrator number may stay within the department). A new employee will not be able to use a physical phone until it is assigned to them. If a staff member transfers to another unit, they will usually keep their number.

I cannot search for myself and do not see my phone number in Webex. Why?

The Webex Search feature does not allow you to search for yourself; however, you can find out your McGill phone number by clicking on your profile picture (icon in the top left corner) and selecting Help > Health Checker; under Phone Services you should see your McGill phone number. You can also find your number on the Cisco Self Care Portal, which is accessible from the Settings > Calling screen (NOTE: VPN is required to access the Self Care Portal from off campus).

I cannot search for myself and do not see my phone number in Webex. Why?

The Webex Search feature does not allow you to search for yourself; however, you can find out your McGill phone number by clicking on your profile picture (icon in the top left corner) and selecting Help > Health Checker; under Phone Services you should see your McGill phone number. You can also find your number on the Cisco Self Care Portal, which is accessible from the Settings > Calling screen (NOTE: VPN is required to access the Self Care Portal from off campus).

How do I find my McGill phone number?

You cannot search for yourself from the Webex directory. However, you can view your own McGill phone number from the Health Checker menu and from the Cisco Self Care Portal.

From the Health Checker:

  1. Click on your profile picture or icon in the upper left corner and choose Help > Health Checker.
  2. Under Phone Settings you should see your McGill phone number.

    Health Checker Phone Services

From the Cisco Self Care Portal:

  1. Click on your profile icon in the upper left corner and choose Settings > Calling
  2. Scroll down and click the link Advanced Call Settings to access the Cisco Self Care Portal.

    Alternatively, you can go directly from any web browser to the Self Care Portal at: https://www.mcgill.ca/cisco-self-care

    secure icon

    VPN required for Cisco Self Care Portal

    If you are accessing the Self Care Portal from outside the McGill network, you will need to first establish a VPN connection.

  3. Your number will appear on the Phone tab, in the blocks under Cisco Dual Mode for iPhone or Android and Cisco Jabber for Desktop.

    Your phone number on the Self Care portal

Can I receive text messages sent to my work number in Webex?

No, you will not receive SMS text messages sent to your work phone number. Our implementation of Cisco telephony, only supports text messages through the Webex application feature, which is similar to MS Teams and not SMS texting.

How are names and phone numbers entered in the McGill staff directory, and Workday?

The web-based Staff Directory page and Global Address List (GAL) in Outlook, contain the email addresses and phone numbers for all McGill staff and faculty (except those who choose not to be listed), as well as groups that can be contacted.

When McGill people search for your name in Webex, they will find whatever information is available from the Staff Directory. However, if you choose not to have a listing on the Staff Directory page, you will still be listed in the Webex search, which is only accessible to McGill employees.

See how to update your information in the Staff Directory and other McGill systems.



During the migration from the legacy phone system, employees who currently have an extension will be given a new 10-digit direct dial number; the new phone number will be updated in Staff Directory by IT Services when the change is implemented.

Note, however, that contact information in Workday is not managed by IT Services and is not automatically synchronized with the Staff Directory; therefore, if you have been given a new phone number within the context of the Telephone Evolution Project, the change may not be reflected. You can add it to Workday by going to Personal Information > Phone Numbers > Edit > Change My Work Contact Information.