TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Town Answers Call of the Future / Internet Replaces 'Archaic' Phones

Town Answers Call of the Future / Internet Replaces 'Archaic' Phones

Monty Solomon (
Mon, 28 Nov 2005 02:47:58 -0500

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff

The town of Milton has switched to Internet-based phone technology in
Town Hall, joining Hingham as one of the first municipalities in the
region to make the leap to a system on the cutting edge of
communication technology.

The move was designed to eventually save money, but it also solves a
more immediate problem: it had become increasingly difficult to find
people who could repair what had become an archaic phone system, said
town officials.

Milton Town Administrator David A. Colton said he expected savings of
about $300 or $400 a month. The system cost about $40,000 to install.

"We had to get a new phone system because the old system was
defunct," said Colton. "It was old and archaic. . . . It was very
expensive to call a service guy."

There is an added benefit for residents: The new system allows for
quick changes so a town can, for example, set up a flu hot line ''in
20 minutes," said Steve Becker, Hingham's manager of information
services. It couldn't be done before.

The system is called VoIP, or "voice over Internet protocol." It
uses the same underlying technology as the Internet.

With VoIP, the person making the call does not notice anything
different. He or she gets the same dial tone and the phone generally
looks the same, explained Michael E. Roberts, chairman of Milton's
Technology Committee, which helped the town make the switch. But
underneath the surface, the technology is very different from old
phone lines. The caller's words are digitized and disassembled into
packets of information that are sent whizzing across the Internet. At
the other end, the packets are reassembled into speech.

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