Telecom has completed what it calls the first step in the roll-out of a $1.4 billion next-generation network, a trial involving 120 residential and small business customers trying out advanced voice services over three months.
Victoria Crone, head of consumer marketing at Telecom, says participants particularly appreciated the web portal for the voice service. This gave them more control over the features of the service than would otherwise have been possible.
Other than that, Crone says triallists liked the improved audio quality of the sound calls, courtesy of the greater bandwidth on offer. Telecom’s NGN voice trial also uses so-called converged cordless handsets, which switch automatically between wireless local area and cellular networks, a technology that Alcatel initially developed for BT and which was launched commercially in the UK last year.
Converged handsets gives the NGN voice service the ability ring both landline and mobiles phones at the same time, without additional cost to customers.
However, Crone says that the trial shows that Telecom needs to think more about how to make the customer premises equipment more attractive-looking and simpler to user. Telecom is currently talking to a range of OEMs about this, and Crone says a lot of work remains to be done.
Crone expects Telecom’s NGN voice service to go live early 2007. It can be delivered over both DSL and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP). For the latter, Telecom’s next step is to trial FTTP in the Flat Bush, south Auckland subdivision, with some 430 homes taking part.
As yet, Telecom has not decided on pricing for the NGN voice service, or how it will be structured in terms of packaging.