Business exploring broadband options

By Marlena Hartz : CNJ staff writer

Employees of a local telecommunications company are learning to use computers to talk on phones, according to a Clovis Community College press release.

ENMR-Plateau Telecommunications employees are being trained in the new technology, called Voice over Internet Protocol, at Clovis Community College in preparation for customer use, according to the release.

The technology allows users to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a traditional phone line.

ENMR-Plateau is researching the technology and covering the cost of tuition for its employees to learn about it, but the company has not decided whether it will offer the technology — which transforms analog audio signals into digital data — to its customers, according to ENMR Communications Director Jay Gurley.

“Our researchers are looking at variable costs and technical requirements,” Gurley said.

Six ENMR employees participated in a four-hour course on the fundamentals of the technology at CCC in October, according to course instructor Terry Davis.

“At this point, they are just getting the concepts down,” said Davis, who added the technology “is the wave of the future.”

An additional 16 to 18 ENMR employees will likely learn about the technology, Davis said. But that hinges on ENMR budgets, he said.

The technology — already in use across the country — was implemented at CCC this year and has saved the college thousands of dollars, Davis said.

Although some laud the technology as a way to skirt fees from phone companies, customers must purchase the service through a specialized provider, Davis said.

Usually, phone companies manage and sell the technology, Davis said.

According to the Federal Communications Commission Web site, the scope of the technology depends largely on the service provider.

Some services allow calls only to others with the same service. Others permit calls to anyone who has a telephone number. Some require a special phone; others allow use of a traditional phone through an adapter, the Web site reads.