Modernising data networks gets urgent

Doing nothing 'is not an option'

In an industry where network operators are investing to either keep their networks ahead of the game, or simply to replace aged equipment, customers are inevitably going to feel the impact as legacy networks and service platforms are withdrawn.

In this country it is believed that one of the earliest platforms to face that fate will be Telecom’s digital data network (DDN) which has been the mainstay platform for delivery of nationwide data services for about the last 20 years. It is well known in telecommunication circles that Telecom needs to replace their public switched telephone network (PSTN) and this has driven them into a technology replacement programme. The first products are launched and in the market.

However other service platforms are creaking and the best guess is that the DDN will vanish sooner rather than later. Many of our businesses have ATM and frame-relay data networks for inter-computer transfers or for such devices as EFTPOS and ATM machines.

Bill Deverall, an international telecommunications consultant from Added Value Applications, believes that users of data services have every reason to urgently look at how and when to upgrade their systems and services, not just whether to do it.

With the eventual withdrawal of DDN services, businesses are forced to make one of three choices, suggests Deverall.

Firstly, Telecom will obviously be offering replacement products with different technology. Secondly, businesses can persist with their current technology using an alternative supplier such as TelstraClear. Thirdly, businesses can strategically review their network usage with the option to converge voice and data circuits. Doing nothing is not an option.

There are many situations where businesses are driven to upgrade their voice and data systems by issues such as capacity expiry, changing user requirements and the need to reduce costs. However the likely withdrawal of service platforms has not affected users significantly in New Zealand for some time and will inevitably cause businesses to advance some investment issues. Anyone in the throes of annual planning for a medium-sized business should clearly have this project on their list. It is hoped that New Zealand’s larger businesses have already started exploring the alternatives.

In normal times, telecommunications customers tend to be price driven says Deverall, but at the current time, they should also be giving extra weight to the technical risk of legacy technology and the potential significant operational advantages of modern network design.

Reynolds is an independent software consultant in Auckland. Contact him at

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