Town calls for phone system replacement
FAIRFIELD — The town hopes to hang up on its 23-year-old telephone system.
The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a $866,818 bonding resolution to replace the phone system with a modern Voice over Internet Protocol system.
The town has about 1,000 phone lines between town and school buildings, and the manufacturer of the existing system is no longer in business. Relying on dedicated copper phone lines owned by the local phone company, the software system in use was not designed to work after November 2015, but IT reset the date to 1990 to keep the system running. Any replacement parts are used and refurbished. Modern abilities such as voicemail to email, caller ID and message waiting lights are not possible with the system.
After working with a consultant, the town sent out a request for proposal, and of the 17 responses, East-Hartford based Total Communications was selected. The system used will be Cisco Solutions. Total Communications also serves area towns, including Westport, Norwalk, Trumbull and Bridgeport.
“We attempted to be very openminded about what process or system we accepted,” said Nancy Byrnes, director of technology for the school board.” We felt we wanted to see what the options were that were available to us.”
David Kelley, the town’s IT director, said the new system will allow the town to be more responsive to constituents and parents because of features like voicemail to email and the message waiting light.
“This will be quite an improvement for everyone’s efficiency,” Selectman Kevin Kiley said.
Selectman Chris Tymniak said he supports the request because the current system is “completely outdated and a waste of money. I think we’ve been lucky for the last eight years we haven’t had a major crash.”
There will be three locations that will have “old- fashioned” phones to serve as backups in case the network goes down, Kelley said.
First Selectman Mike Tetreau said when the proposal was first talked about several years ago, they were told a new system would cost around $2 million. “This has been around for quite a while. It’s great to finally see it get here,” he said.
The request now goes to the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting for approval.