Telephone switchover a snooze |

Telephone switchover a snooze

Cliff Thompson

The new switch by CenturyTel was “cut over” just after midnight Wednesday night, and the telephone company’s 8,800 customers encountered relatively few problems.

CenturyTel vice-president Doug Alden, who moved here from Vancouver to supervise the switch upgrade, said only about 10 customer lines encountered problems. Typically major switch conversions are plagued with translation problems between the old and new technology, he said.

“It turned out great,” said Alden, “I’m happy as a lark.”

The technology upgrade actually was accelerated by six months after a switch failed in February, causing phone outages for as long as three days for some residents and businesses. Normally such technology upgrades require 12 to 18 months to accomplish, Alden said.

Those problems and previous interruptions with telephone service in Edwards – as well as an apparent lack of response by CenturyTel – prompted frustrated area business owners to mount a letter-writing campaign to telephone company brass and to local and national elected officials.

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“Once we got their attention, they responded appropriately,” said Kim Wolfe of Slifer Designs, who organized the writing campaign. “I’m pleased. They put their money where their mouth was and came through for the community.”

Wolfe said CenturyTel arranged for a test run with Slifer Designs last week to see if any problems would be encountered. None were.

The upgrade is not yet complete, Alden said. Through autumn the company will continue to install “smart” switches to replace older technology in Edwards Village, Berry Creek and Arrowhead. The switching system should also provide customers with redundancy to ensure service if problems are encountered.

Another phase of the technology upgrade will be made soon for service to McCoy, Eagle and Gypsum. The 7,000-customer system there will be upgraded as well, Alden said. An expanded office in Eagle will be built and the microwave system for McCoy will be replaced with a 25 mile-long fiber optic cable next year, Alden said.

Customers encountering telephone problems in Edwards should call Century Tel regional manager Mike Towne at 328-8244.

CenturyTel is a publicly traded company (NYSE-CTL) with 3 million customers in 21 states.

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