Release: Comptroller’s Office Saves Baltimore $2.4 Million in Modernization

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Bill Henry
Baltimore City
204 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-5410


Geoff Shannon, Public Relations Officer
(410) 387-5704


The Department of Telecommunications is leading an internal review to eliminate unused legacy telephone lines

Baltimore, MD - The Department of Telecommunications is performing an internal review, identifying unused City telephone lines and circuits for potential removal and upgrades. Telecoms’ goal is to replace these ‘ghost’ lines with new technology while also saving millions in external payments.

In addition, the team is finalizing the conversion of the City’s phone system from Centrex to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Already in fiscal year 2021 Telecom has identified and disconnected over 622 unused ghost landlines, circuits, fax and elevators lines. As a result of the telephone systems review and ongoing upgrades of legacy systems to VoIP, Telecom has saved the City $2.4 million by reducing monthly payments to third-party vendors in telephone costs from over $300,000 a month to less than $85,000.

Through fiscal year 2022 Telecom hopes to shave another $50,000 off the city’s monthly telecommunication costs through the review and upgrade process.

“For over 30 years, Verizon managed the phone lines in the City but was not able to provide us with an accurate data on where lines were actually installed,” Director of Telecommunications Simon Etta said. “With the conversion to VoIP in the City, we now have the flexibility to terminate these lines, update our internal records and stop paying for those we do not need.”

The review team – composed entirely of Department of Telecommunications employees - consults with agencies and with third-party resources to identify unused phone lines and other outdated tools. Site visits are often necessary in order to locate and tag physical hardware, after which Telecom offers recommendations and upgrade options. Agencies then work with Telecom to implement those recommendations.

“This is a physical process,” Etta said. “We’re making onsite visits to every single City office - often empty - trying to find these ghost lines. It’s what is necessary to make our systems safe and up to date.”

Among its current partners, Telecoms is working with the Baltimore Police Department and has identified 100s of unused legacy lines and circuits at various locations. When complete the unused lines will be disconnected with additional savings passed on to the BPD.

Reducing ghost lines is part of the department’s three-pronged review strategy. As a security measure, concurrently Telecom is also identifying and replacing outdated mobile phones, and working to eliminate extraneous phone numbers.

“The Department of Telecommunications is providing a great example of how inhouse expertise can be more efficient and effective than outsourcing,” Comptroller Bill Henry said. “Our team is working hard to make sure that our agencies can access up-to-date technology.”



Overseen by of the Comptroller’s Office, the Department of Telecommunications provides telephone services to all city agencies. Services include managing Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP phone service, supplying mobile phones, providing technical support for various city call centers, and providing for the billing of these services with external vendors. Telecom installs and maintains all telecommunications equipment in the various Baltimore City call centers such as 311, Department of Public Works (DPW) and Revenue Collection.

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