Kansas county dumps AT&T, plans own telco and ISP

Douglas County, Kan., is looking to save money by ousting incumbent provider AT&T (NYSE: T) and reconfiguring its telecommunications setup. The county approved a contract with nonprofit KanREN (Kansas Research and Education Network) to serve as its ISP and approved the expenditure of $82,289 to replace phone systems in five remote offices.

KanREN is a consortium of colleges, universities, school districts and other organizations that promote communications among themselves and provide its members with Internet connectivity via a statewide network. It recently began offering service to local governments.

Douglas County, because it's rural, depends on Internet connectivity to communicate between remote areas, including using videoconferencing for some hearings in its district court, the newspaper article said.

The county's IT director said moving from AT&T to KanREN will save the county in excess of $5,400 and provide its rural offices with five times the bandwidth they get through AT&T.

The telephone system purchase, he added, should save about $34,000 for services previously offered by AT&T. That expenditure is only part of an eventual $200,000 project to replace all the phone systems in the county, the story said.

While not specifically citing the Douglas County situation, AT&T did touch on the needs of rural customers during its second quarter earnings call this week where executives touted the rollout of Project VIP, the carrier's broadband expansion into rural areas. That project is expected to benefit U-verse and U-verse is moving to cover small-medium business customers such as Douglas County.

For more:
- see this story in the Lawrence Journal-World

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