Penobscot County to replace phone system

Posted May 19, 2009, at 9:34 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:18 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot County is shopping around for a new phone system to replace the one that was severely damaged by power surges caused by last week’s high winds.

A request for proposals to that end will be posted shortly, Tom Davis, chairman of the Penobscot County commissioners, confirmed Tuesday.

“We’ve given the OK to go ahead [with the purchase],” Davis said, adding that the county has been saving for a new phone system for the last few years, but given the hit the phone system took last week, “we’re not going to wait now.”

The telephone system that was affected by a series of power surges last Thursday handled the county’s administrative or business lines. The county’s 911 emergency lines operate on a different system and weren’t affected.

The damaged system was purchased more than a decade ago and finding the parts and components needed to fix it has proven difficult.

“We couldn’t get parts and that was part of the problem,” Davis said. “We’ve got all the mileage we can get out of the system.”

When the phone system that handles business lines went down last week, the county dusted off the even older system and spent the weekend trying to get it up and running, according to Davis and Jim Ryan, executive director of the Penobscot County Regional Communications Center.

While that allowed the county to be able to receive incoming business calls, the older system has a smaller capacity for handling incoming calls and those getting through were still being misrouted Tuesday, Ryan said.

As a result, county employees had to e-mail and hand-deliver telephone messages they received from people trying to call other departments, Ryan said.

In addition to that, the county lost its ability to receive voice mail and process after-hours calls placed to the county’s main phone number.

Davis said the county believes its insurance police covers the damaged phone system and is pursuing a claim.

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