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By Ellen Muraskin  |  Posted 2004-11-17 Print this article Print

The city of Ithaca in upstate New York is currently rolling out a broadband solution as part of a franchise agreement signed with Time Warner Cable. According to Alan Karasin, senior network administrator for Ithaca, it will be used exclusively for city departments and employees, first for data and then for videoconferencing, VOIP and e-government applications. Karasin met this reporter at a VoiceCON road show in September, listening to the pitches of IP telephony vendors. And Manchester, Conn., across the Connecticut River from Hartford, has a fiber-optic network partly funded out of state initiatives, and partly out of the savings it realized from the elimination of T-1s connecting buildings individually. The town used the "Municipal Gain" law in Connecticut to help win the rights to string the network across utility poles back in 2000. Jack McCoy, CIO for Manchesters IS department, explained that to that point the law had never been used for telecommunications. Having connected its downtown middle school, the city was sued by then local Bell operating company SNET. "We went through public utility control hearings and won the case, and then put out a spec to do the rest of the city," said McCoy, seen at the Voice-on-the-Net exhibit hall in Boston in October.
A partnership with downtown merchants extended that fiber-optic network, with its Internet access, to a free, Main Street Wi-Fi network. "The merchants bought inexpensive access points, which we modified, and connected those back to the middle school on one end of Main Street and a library on the other."
"It was an economic development initiative," said McCoy. "Main Street in Manchester, like Main Streets across the nation, has been adversely affected by the rise of malls. This was an effort to get people to come down, have coffee and use the local restaurants." Manchester has now published a bid spec for an IP telephony system or hosted service; McCoy reported that a surprising 30 vendors attended a bidders conference. Final responses to the RFP are due in the next two weeks. "Our specs range from the standard IP telephony dominant vendors, like Cisco, Avaya and Nortel, to the open-source world. Were looking for standards, versus a proprietary solution. The third type is either of the first two in a hosted scenario. Id like to hear from all three categories," said McCoy. VOIP & Telephony Center Editor Ellen Muraskin can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

Ellen Muraskin is editor of's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.

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