Can you hear them now? The Great Bend City Council hopes so.
Members accepted Tuesday night a proposal from The Phone Connection out of Salina in the amount of $39,985.40 for a telephone system upgrade. They also authorized the purchase of fire walls for all locations that use the phone system from Networks Plus of Home, Kan., in the amount of $4,435.85.
The improvements would result in monthly savings of almost $1,200. The up-front cost would be $39,985.40 for the system improvements and $4,435.85 for a firewall to protect the city’s computers.
“For the capital cost of $44,421.25 we could begin seeing savings immediately,” City Clerk Amit Patel said. “The monthly savings would last many years into the future.”
The switch to Phone Connection also protects the city from planned future AT&T rate increases of up to $150 per year. AT&T is the city’s current provider.
The city’s monthly AT&T bill is $2,454 and the new rate would be $1,255, which amounts to a savings of over $14,000 per year.
The savings over the next 37 months would pay for the initial expense, Patel said. In actuality, the payoff may be in as little as 29 months.
What is the difference?
The existing AT&T system is a Plexar system, Patel said. In other words, it utilizes traditional copper lines as the basis for its infrastructure.
After the switch, calls will come into most city facilities over fiber optic internet cables, So, service to most city phones will be through Cox Communications, with coming through Nex-Tech and Verizon.
Patel said this will soon become the industry standard so the city would eventually have to make the change anyway.
He said the city will keep its existing telephones which can handle the improved service.
“Our bills will be cut in half,” City Administrator Howard Partington said. The city has the funds available to pay for the new system now so the savings can be realized immediately.
The internet-based service also has two additional benefits, Partington said. It will increase the city’s internet speed and bolster existing computer fire wall protection.