City Council Meeting Date: March 18, 2014
TO: Patrick Wiemiller, City Administrator
FROM: Richard Gracyk, Broadband Services Administrator
SUBJECT: PBX (Private Branch Exchange)/Phone System Upgrade
Staff recommends the City Council:
1) Approve the purchase of a PBX/Phone System Upgrade (Upgrade) for approximately $135,000;
2) Award the contract to ATI of Emeryville, California, for the purchase of the Upgrade in that amount; and
3) Authorize the Purchasing and Materials Manager to issue a Purchase Order for the Upgrade in that amount; or
4) Provide alternate direction.
Our current phone system (NEC NEAX 2400 IMX), was installed in August 1999, after a full RFP process. The original installation included the City’s initial implementation of voicemail. The phone system has been expanded a number of times to include facilities that were not part of the original project. Those included: the Andersen Recreation Center, Aquatic Center, Water Treatment Plant, and, most recently, the DeWees Community and Senior Center (DeWees Center).
While the centralized NEC equipment has proven to be very reliable and has had no appreciable downtime over the 14-plus years it has been in service, its core is effectively a computer. The Upgrade will replace the computer core and minor generational updates that have been instituted over the life of our system.
The addition of previously un-served facilities has been made possible by a negotiated franchise agreement with Comcast Cable (Comcast). The franchise agreement has
been in place for a number of years and will expire on December 31, 2014, at which time the State of California’s master franchise agreement will replace our local franchise. The Comcast agreement has provided many services to the City. One service is the installation of point-to-point fiber optic connectivity to all City facilities, providing a very flexible and robust connectivity arrangement as a contractual obligation without charge to the City. This connectivity allowed for our phone system to be seamlessly connected throughout the agency, without incurring any monthly service charges. The addition of the previously mentioned facilities was accomplished by the simple purchase, installation, and programming of new components at each facility and at City Hall. As part of the Comcast agreement, all connectivity services provided to the City have been without charge to the City over the life of the agreement, resulting in significant savings as compared with obtaining the connection services without the Comcast agreement.
The proposed Upgrade is provided by our current PBX vendor and provider of maintenance and repair. Evans Communications was the original vendor and installer of the system, later changing its name to ATI. There has been a continuous association with the company and personnel throughout the life of our phone system. Approving this purchase will continue the professional relationship.
There are two key issues driving the Upgrade. The first is our current NEC IMX platform is no longer supported by NEC. The IMX platform has reached its end-of-life and new replacement parts are no longer manufactured. That issue came to light when adding the DeWees Center to the system. The required expansion parts had to be acquired from third parties via used equipment channels. Although the used components have performed as needed, replacement components will be increasingly difficult to acquire and timely replacement cannot be guaranteed. While the existing system has been very reliable since 1999, a failure of the computer core would disrupt phone services for an unknown period of time.
The second driving issue will be the loss of our local franchise agreement with Comcast. Currently, Comcast provides point-to-point connections to all our City-facilities via fiber- optics. That currently allows for our phone system to be seamlessly connected to all City-facilities, without incurring any monthly costs. Upon the expiration of the Comcast agreement on December 31, 2014, that point-to-point connection will no longer be available. Comcast has offered a new level of connectivity to replace our existing connectivity; however, the City would incur costs to modify our phone system to fit the commercially available Comcast connection products. The City would also incur monthly connection charges. It is anticipated the monthly costs, for a similar level of services with Comcast, could be anywhere between $7,000, to as much as $10,000 per
month. In short, the loss of the Comcast franchise alone precludes us from continuing the convenience of our current phone system without significantly increased operational costs.
Over the course of the past year and continuing through 2014, the Broadband Division has been tasked with providing connectivity, both wired and wirelessly, between City Hall and all City facilities (the Network). The project is well underway and generally expected to be completed within this calendar year, prior to the expiration of the Comcast franchise agreement. The proposed Upgrade is designed to work with the Network.
The Upgrade, rather than a wholesale replacement, has a number of other benefits. The first and primary benefit is the difference in cost between a comprehensive replacement and an Upgrade. A wholesale replacement would cost approximately $360,000 compared with the Upgrade cost of $135,000. A large portion of the $225,000 differential is the ability to utilize components of the existing system. One of the biggest savings opportunities is the reuse of desk handsets. While newer generation handsets are available, the vast majority of existing handsets will be reused with the upgraded system.
The elimination of the 48-volt rectifier is another cost savings opportunity related to the Upgrade as the upgraded system uses standardized computer components including battery backup equipment. The 48-volt rectifier also takes up a full computer rack in the City’s centralized computer room; space that is becoming increasingly valuable with the consolidation of the City’s PEG cable equipment at City Hall.
The upgraded system provides services currently unavailable with the existing system. Some of the new services would allow for the implementation of caller ID and industry standard VoIP. VoIP connectivity allows phone service to facilities which currently are not part of the City phone system. Voicemail software and operation will continue unchanged, as will fax and call accounting services.
Lompoc Municipal Code section 3.36.040 E. Reads “Standardization. When supplies, materials, equipment, or services have been uniformly adopted or otherwise standardized, or when an item is designated to match others in use by the City, the purchase is not subject to this Chapter.”
The existing NEC IMX platform, voicemail system and fax system is a City Standard. Other equipment would require a complete system change to include desktop handsets, fax and voicemail equipment.
Phone service is accounted for in the City’s Communications Fund (CF), an Internal Service Fund (ISF). As an ISF, the CF charges each division for phone costs that cover both operational and capital replacement costs. Funds adequate for the Upgrade have been accumulated in the CF ISF since 1999 for the eventual replacement of the phone system. The Upgrade is adequately funded in the current budget and can proceed as scheduled. Appropriated in the FY 2013-15 Budget is $162,000 to replace or upgrade the existing phone system in account 74000-73010.
Staff recommends the City Council authorize the Purchasing and Materials Manager to issue a Purchase Order for the Upgrade in the amount of $135,000 to ATI of Emeryville, California.
Richard Gracyk, Broadband Services Administrator
Ray Ambler, Purchasing and Materials Manager
APPROVED FOR SUBMITTAL TO THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR:
_________________________________ Larry Bean, Utilities Director
__________________________________ Brad Wilkie, Management Services Director
APPROVED FOR SUBMITTAL TO THE CITY COUNCIL:
_________________________________ Patrick Wiemiller, City Administrator