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Call made to switch providers

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Bartholomew County has switched to a new phone provider that will allow them to add more services while spending less on monthly bills.

The county has paid a one-time fee of $29,864 to switch the service and will pay an average of $6,188 every month for the next 10 years for phone service to all Bartholomew County government offices.

The new monthly payment is about 16.9 percent less compared to the last 10 years, county information and technology director Jim Hartsook said.

Compared to what the county paid prior to 2005, the monthly bills will be 18.9 percent lower, Hartsook said.

The Bartholomew County Commissioners switched the county’s phone service to Windstream-Mitel after studying phone service rates for two years, commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said.

Five options were presented in May to the commissioners, who all worked earlier as part of the county’s 10-member Computer and Data Processing Board to serve the interests of both departments and taxpayers, Hartsook said.

“We feel it is the best economical system for us,” Kleinhenz said.

The new system will begin to be phased in this summer, completing the change no later than October, Hartsook said.

Beside traditional phone service, the costs covers new phones and hardware and other services not available with the county’s current system, Hartsook said.

The system, which utilizes a call and data center based in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers, will be purchased through a lease-to-own financing plan, Hartsook said. The anticipated savings should begin to be realized about five years from now, he told the commissioners.

The county’s new telephone service provider is part-owned by the Little Rock, Arkansas-based Windstream Corp., which has about $4 billion in annual revenue.

Windstream’s partner is Mitel, a global provider of business communications that reported $579.9 million in revenue last year. Mitel is headquartered near the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

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