The Department of Internal Affairs is looking at combining voice and data networks for installation probably by the middle of next year.
Last week the department issued a request for “registration of interest” in providing improved voice and data networks or some elements of such a project. But what will be installed eventually is still in large part a function of what is suggested by the vendors, in co-operation with DIA’s appointed consultancy, Consultel.
“Some vendors might have some particular bright ideas that [DIA and Consultel] haven’t thought of,” says Neil Cowley, principal advisor on technology strategy for the department.
The present stage is a periodic review of the network that the department has in place today, and what technology advances there have been “over the past five years”, that might offer opportunity for improvement. There is no major new initiative planned that led to consideration of potential offerings at this time, he says.
Five years was chosen arbitrarily as an appropriate timescale for the review. “Then [in assessing proposals] we’ll be looking at what we need for the next five years.” Some of the current equipment in the department’s networks may be five years old, he says, but some of it was installed more recently.
DIA’s voice and data networks are currently separate. The invitation to register interest refers to “wide area data and voice networks” without necessarily implying voice-over-IP or similar technologies to combine the two on one network. Depending on the load characteristics, it might prove adviable to implement voice-over-IP now, but the department might initially accept a solution that is not fully integrated, "but will be compatible with VoIP, should we decide to do that in the future".
Other functionalities suggested in the request for interest include “0800 and call centre services, VPN [virtual private network]operation and internet services."
DIA expects to issue a request to tender at the end of January next year.