Babylon is joining the modern phone age.
The town is taking its 15-year-old copper-wired phone system and transforming it into a fiber-optic, cloud-based system. Last month, the town board approved paying Exeter, Rhode Island-based Carousel Industries of North America to install the new phones at the town’s parks and recreation building and the Spangle Drive Senior Center at a monthly cost of $720 and $500, respectively.
Last year the town hired the company to begin installing the system at the animal shelter, paying a total of $1,350 in 2018.
Excluding fax machines, the town has 430 phone numbers throughout Town Hall and 18 other facilities. Those numbers are spread out among four different systems, with separate servers, using three companies: Broadview Networks, Verizon and Optimum. The town spends $34,000 a month in usage and almost $4,000 a month in repairs and maintenance, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner.
The new system will cost $36,000 a month for the first three years, including maintenance, hardware and installation, Bonner said. After that, the monthly cost drops to $25,000. The town expects to save more than $1.1 million over 10 years, he said.
Besides reducing costs, the new system is expected to be more reliable and efficient, town officials said, noting the loss of phone service to the Town Hall annex last year because of a storm. Currently, employees have limited caller ID and cannot see missed calls. They also cannot transfer calls to other town facilities.
“It’s not the easiest system to work with,” said Deputy Supervisor Tony Martinez. “The new system will be more intuitive, more user-friendly.”
He added that problems at the shelter have been minimal since the system was rolled out in October.
The system also will allow for more flexibility, as phone numbers can travel with workers, something that would have helped last year, Martinez said, when the assessor’s office was being renovated and staff had to work from the town board room, necessitating the rerouting of telephone lines.
The new phone system is part of a larger effort by the town to modernize its operations, Martinez said, including moving the entire town system from a mainframe to a web-based system. The phones, he said, are some of the town’s oldest pieces of equipment.
The town hopes to complete the changeover in all facilities by the end of the year.