Southwestern Bell Telephone Company spent more than $1.5 million last year to increase the Lawrence phone system's capacity and improve transmission quality.
The improvements should make the city more competitive in attracting new businesses, said Mike Scott, Southwestern Bell's external affairs manager.
The phone company replaced existing copper lines with new fiber optic lines and installed a new digital central office switch, the computer that controls phone calls on the network, Scott said.
The number of access lines in Lawrence increased in 1994 by 1,463 to a total of 41,729.
Southwestern Bell also eliminated outdated party lines, he said.
Scott said it was unlikely that customers would notice any change.
"We had a good system before, but we improved on an already good system," he said.
The changes enabled Southwestern Bell to expand its advanced services, which the company calls Easy Options Services: call waiting, call forwarding, automatic redial, caller ID and call tracing, which automatically forwards phone caller information to law enforcement and security agencies, Scott said.
But the improvements won't provide faster access for computer users hooking up to the Internet.
Don Boucher, manager of central office maintenance in Southwestern Bell's Lawrence office, said there are no plans to provide special phone lines capable of handling higher speed computer transmissions.
"To get into a higher rate, they've got to go into a least line arrangement," Boucher said. "The super-users are not using a voice grade line. It's what they want and are willing to pay for."
The majority of computer users have modems with a maximum speed of 9600 baud, Scott said, and existing phone lines can handle that.