In response to multiple phone and internet service outages this year, city staff and the Lampasas Economic Development Corp. are working to select a company to assess Lampasas' telecommunication system and offer suggestions for improvements. After receiving proposals from six companies, the LEDC Board of Directors voted unanimously last week to authorize staff to negotiate and finalize a contract for assessment, design and specification for technology infrastructure. Economic Development Director Mandy Walsh said the LEDC received proposals from six companies: Foresite Group Inc. and Clarus Data, both of Austin; True North Consulting Group of Waco; Finley Engineering of Lamar, Missouri; ARCS of Oklahoma City and Inteleconnect Inc. of Saline, Michigan. Officials are looking closely at the two companies that submitted the top-ranked proposals, City Manager Finley deGraffenried said. Once a contract is awarded, the company's recommendations for telecommunications improvements -- including identification of network design and financial models -- should be issued within 30- 60 days, Mrs. Walsh said. “Then we move forward with engineering, design phase and eventually construction and buildout,” she said. “There's a lot to identify prior to that happening.” Mrs. Walsh said reliable internet service is essential to the Lampasas economy. Businesses in the area have been encouraged to see action the LEDC is taking to address telecommunications concerns, she said. Both the LEDC board and the Lampasas City Council rank internet improvements as one of the key items needed for economic development, deGraffenried said. “If it's not absolutely number one, it's sharing the number-one spot with another effort, but, generally speaking ... it's the top of the list for both organizations,” he said. One suggestion some have offered for improvements is having a backup, or “redundant,” internet line run to Lampasas in case the line south of town is cut during construction -- as has happened during recent outages. Lampasas' internet service provider, AT&T, issued a statement saying it is working to reduce future problems if lines are cut. “Like all telecommunication companies, service for our customers can be affected by other companies doing construction work that accidently damage our equipment,” said Adrianna Bernal, assistant vice president-public affairs for AT&T-Texas. “Unfortunately, there have been a series of these incidents in Lampasas. In each incident, we’ve worked quickly to restore service, and we continue to explore ways to reduce future issues. “As with any construction project,” the statement continued, "there are many variables, some not under AT&T’s control, that can impact the timeline. However, this is a priority for us, and we are designing a route that will improve redundancy in case these cuts continue.”