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The Retrospect Article by Mark Swanson – New Phones for Heights Borough in New Year

HADDON HEIGHTS — Haddon Heights Council heard a presentation from Mayor Ed Forte about a new borough phone system proposal on Tuesday night.  The phone system would be for all borough offices, essentially linking the main office at 625 Station Ave. to the Department of Public Works, construction office and other facilities. The move would allow Heights to reduce the number of phone numbers it has for different offices, he said, and make the current lines extensions of a main number.

Forte said that he had reviewed five proposals for a phone system for borough facilities and was prepared to recommend Line Systems. The current phone system is 24 years old, he reported.
Line Systems representative Michael Fox told the council that as proposed, Heights borough offices would get what is known as a VOIP system, Voice Over Internet Protocol. Rather than using standard copper wire, the system uses computer networks and the internet to transmit audio.

As proposed, the system would cost the Heights about $1,800 a month and mean the replacement of all phones. The system would be leased from Line Systems for five years during which there would be no changes in its cost.  All issues, said Fox, would be covered by a warranty under the lease agreement.  Because all the departments of the borough would have four-digit extensions of the same main number, it would also mean they could easily call each other via conference call or intercom, without needing an outside line.

Forte stressed that he would like to set up the system so that callers – mainly borough residents – could always get a human to answer the phone. Employees and council members, even the mayor, would be assigned extensions that they could forward  virtually anywhere, including their own cell phone numbers, work extensions or home numbers.  Everyone on the system would also be able to receive various notifications of voicemail messages, like cell phone texts and emails.

The downside, said Forte, is that the borough will need to install “Cat 5”, Category 5 computer network cabling, at every phone location. Desks that already have Cat 5 cables for computer networking would not require another. He does not think the cabling will be difficult or expensive to do.

On the upside, the borough already has a high-bandwidth “T1” line to support this kind of phone system, said the mayor. If that line were to somehow go out, the borough has a backup Internet service line it could use as a backup.

Forte expected that the borough will employ another outside firm to install the cabling.  Fox reported that once approved, the system could be installed in 45 days.  The mayor said that he expects to budget for the phone systems in the 2013 budget.

The Retrospect has been producing Hometown News since 1902. It is Camden County’s Oldest Weekly Newspaper.

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