California city switches to CLEC, halves phone bill

Redlands, Calif., plans to buy new patrol cars for its police department with money it will save by following the 1996 Telecommunications Act and letting a CLEC seek out the lowest prices for phone services every month.

Redlands anticipates slashing its annual phone bill in half--from $324,000 to $155,000--by using Ernest Communications, a CLEC, to negotiate prices for voice and digital data services on a monthly basis, Phil Mielke, the city's GIS supervisor and webmaster told the Press-Enterprise of San Bernardino County.

Eventually, Mielke said, those annual savings could climb to $180,000 when Redlands overhauls its 31-year-old telephone system. That will happen, he said, after the city finds a new place to house computers that provide the telephone service. Right now the servers are in the basement of a building that has been deemed unsafe for use as office space.

"They're basically in the basement of a condemned building," Mielke said. "We definitely need a new place for the data center."

The biggest risk at the present location is overheating. The older servers generate more heat and, even though the below-surface location is cooler than one on the surface, the equipment is at the whim of an air conditioning system that could fail.

The savings probably won't hit $155,000 this year because the city's already two months into its fiscal year, noted Councilman Bob Gardner. But they will be enough to buy new patrol cars for the police in the future, City Manager N. Enrique Martinez told the city council.

For more:
- see this story in the Press-Enterprise of San Bernardino County

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