MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP ─ Mad River Township is joining forces with Green Township and is switching to a secure voice over Internet phone system that will cost taxpayers significantly less.
“We will be upgrading our phones at both the Enon-Mad River Township and Hustead Fire and EMS Stations, as well as our 911 dispatch system,” Mad River Township President Kathy Estep said during the Feb. 21 township meeting.
According to Estep, the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology uses a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular analog phone line to make and receive telephone calls. As a result, both townships will save thousands in monthly costs.
“Currently, we pay over $6,000 a month for our phone system with AT&T,” Estep said. “We are speculating that phone service through the Internet will reduce those monthly costs by half or more.”
Estep noted that dispatchers would be dispatching from their homes for the time being. However, department personnel would also be able to dispatch from the Enon-Mad River Township and Hustead Fire and EMS Stations once the new VoIP system is operational.
In a 3-0 vote, the Mad River Township Trustees approved a proposal presented by William Telecom Consultants, a Beavercreek-based business, to install the VoIP emergency phone solution that will cost the townships between $5,400 and $6,200. Green Township has signed a contract with the local consulting firm as well.
“It does get a bit complicated because Mad River Township will be making decisions for the Enon-Mad River Township Station. However, the Hustead Joint Board, which consists of Mad River Township and Green Township Trustees, will be making decisions for the Hustead Station,” said Estep. “The two townships are using this local consultant because we want someone who can ensure compatibility and reliability of the new system.”
The eight-page proposal details the scope of work that the telecom consultant will supply to complete the project. The project will be performed in three phases, and the consultant will coordinate with the townships to fix any identified gaps. The consultant will also update the phone equipment as needed and establish the locations of the new phones. An additional analog, non-emergency phone line will be added at the Enon-Mad River Township Fire and EMS Station as a backup dispatch option.
The consultant will then coordinate the installation of the Internet access system and create a test plan that will include onsite support at all four remote dispatch locations. When everything is ready to activate, the consultant will submit an order to AT&T to terminate phone service to the townships and provide onsite support during the switch to the new dispatch system.
“The phones will be replaced and internet modems installed in each of the dispatchers’ homes. There will be a central server located at the Enon-Mad River Township Fire and EMS Station. This will serve as the basic infrastructure for the Voice over Internet Protocol phone system,” Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young said. “It will be a smooth transition from the current analog system, which requires actual cable lines to an all internet-based system.”
Once the project has started, Young predicts it will take one month to complete. He is also anticipating that the townships will establish a more definitive contract with the consultant for operational maintenance support once the infrastructure has been installed.
“I think this is an important step in the modernization of our dispatch operations,” Young said. “It establishes the platform for advancement and will be fiscally beneficial to the township.”
According to Township Trustee Joe Catanzaro, township officials have been considering the VoIP system for more than a year.
“When you look at the possible savings in monthly fees, you need to examine other options and make a change,” Catanzaro said.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.