TelstraClear is likely to beat Telecom out of the blocks in offering products based on an emerging standard that allows a simultaneous voice, data and video link.
However, the new standard, SIP (session initiation protocol), has its critics, and Telecom questions its immediate benefit to customers.
TelstraClear is to launch an SIP-based product later this year, but it may be next year before Telecom introduces products or services based on the protocol some believe will replace H.323.
Speaking at an event put on by the Telecommunications Users Association last month, TelstraClear solutions management head Patrick Carson said a SIP-based IP telephony product will go on the market this year and that SIP is “the protocol we’ll be going forward with”.
SIP is increasingly replacing H.323, the existing protocol over which IP-based telephony is run.
However, some early adopters of SIP in the US have had teething troubles, with interoperability issues causing implementations to take longer than expected.
Reuters executive vice president David Gurle has said that “there’s a perception that SIP will be as plug-and-play as TCP, IP or HTTP. But it’s not going to be as easy as that, because the higher you go in the networking stack, the more business logic you carry.” SIP operates at level 7, the application layer of the OSI model and its highest level.
Telecom has no immediate plans to introduce SIP in its IP Centrex offering, says product management and development head Russell Locke.
“We have three customers on the IP Centrex service, which is where I think TelstraClear is going. Our Centrex is H.323-based and the main reason we haven’t gone SIP is there are no feature benefits for customers. Features such as centralised control and call forwarding are all available on H.323.”
However, SIP is likely become part of Telecom’s IP Centrex after a planned upgrade of the carrier’s exchanges. The upgrade will happen either this year or next, Locke says. “We’re still locking down the priorities of different projects. We’ve trialled the equipment for SIP for exchange replacement.”
The key benefit of SIP is interoperability, he says.
“It’s designed to operate from our network to the customer’s PBX, and under the exchange changes, a customer with a Nortel PBX, Cisco VoIP, Alcatel or any brand of PBX will be able to connect directly with the network.”
The driver for SIP-enabling Telecom’s exchanges is that it will enable new services such as video telephony to be offered.