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February 14, 2005
Phone rates fall for third time
BY Eric rangus
In January, for the third time in five years, Network Communication lowered phone rates for its Emory customers, dropping rates by $1.20 per phone line for a monthly savings of $17,000.
A number of technical and business factors contribute to NetCom’s cost savings. For instance the modem pool, which allows Emory users to dial into the system remotely, was outfitted with new hardware that increased its efficiency. And the formation of NetCom itself has given the University more bargaining power in negotiating better rates with area phone companies.
Prior to NetCom’s formation in 2000, Emory had three different telecommunications departments (the University, Crawford Long and the Emory Clinic). Because they were relatively small entities with little bargaining power, they were unable to negotiate good rates.
“If you are an accountant like me, that doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Becky Hancock, NetCom’s director of administration and finance. She negotiated the new rates with BellSouth. “You plug your computer or phone into a wall, and all those holes look the same. It never made sense why there were so many telecommunications departments.”
According to John Mason, NetCom’s director of architecture and engineering, the model pool improvement is just one of more than a dozen initiatives over the past few years that have saved Emory money. “And it’s not just cost savings; we’ve also improved service,” he said, noting that NetCom purchased its own fiber-optic network a couple years ago. “After every outcome, service was equal to or better than before.”
In all, NetCom is responsible for more than 14,000 phone lines and 38,000 data ports at the University and Emory hospitals.