BellSouth switch moves

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2000

Troy into Information Age


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BellSouth officials introduced Troy and Pike County officials to a new technological advancement that will move the community even further into the Information Age.

A $1.8 million investment in Troy’s infrastructure in the form of a new telecommunication switch will position the community to take advantage of current and emerging technologies.

BellSouth technicians are putting the finishing touches on the Lucent Technologies EXM 2000 switch upgrade and will cut over to the new switch at 2 a.m. on Saturday, November 11. The new switch will have immediate impact on Troy customers with the introduction of services previously unavailable with the incumbent switching technology.

"We are excited about this new switch," said Tom Somerville, director-External Affairs. "It will give us the technology base to not only meet Troy’s future growth needs, but augment our capability to deliver the latest telecommunications products and services now and into the future."

Within the last few years, Troy business and community leaders expressed to BellSouth their concern regarding the availability of a technology infrastructure that would deliver services deemed by many the watermark for economic development and expansion.

"Telecommunications infrastructure is more important now than at anytime in the past," said Marsha Gaylard, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. "With the dawn of the Information Age, a sound telecommunications infrastructure is not only critical for business recruitment and expansion, but can now add significantly to a community’s quality of life."

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said with the growing technological needs of Troy, including elementary, middle, high school and Troy State University, the city needs to be able to be a part of the "technology race."

"Technology is really happening here," Lunsford said. "We are glad BellSouth chose Troy as the first switch."

Lunsford also said the switch will be helpful for future plans for the Troy Municipal Airport where city officials are considering a face lift for the airport, which includes the addition of a conference room with teleconferencing abilities.

The incumbent switch was put into service in July of 1990. At the time, the digital Stromberg-Carlson DCO technology was cutting-edge, but BellSouth soon realized the switch could not be upgraded and expanded to take advantage of emerging services and technologies.

With help from the Universal Service Fund, BellSouth was able to fashion a plan and secure the necessary funding. With the blessing and support of the Alabama Public Service Commission, the project commenced in late spring of this year. The USF was established in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The FCC assigns USF funding to states with high-cost, rural service areas. One of the USF’s main goals is to make sure rural customers have access to telecommunications services on a level reasonably comparable to access provided in urban areas.

Alabama Public Service Commissioner Jan Cook was unable to attend the meeting, but was represented by Tom Whatley, chief of staff/chief counsel to the commissioner.

Whatley said the funds were supported by Cook, and she wanted to see the funds used in areas similar to Troy.

"She wanted the funds used in rural areas," Whatley said. "And she wanted them used near her home town of Dozier, and that was one of the reason’s Troy was chosen."

Numerous services will be introduced in the weeks after the conversion. Among those services are CrisisLinksM, BusyConnectsM, Call Waiting Deluxe, Basic Rate Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and MemoryCallsM voice mail.

Certain features like Call Return will now be available on a per use basis. Customers with only occasional need for the service will have the flexibility to use them whenever they need them without subscribing monthly.