Toy Box: Jack in the box

Telecom's new IP network is being built on Alcatel hardware. Ho hum, you say. But bits of the upgrade are set to make your corporate hearts pound and your collective pulse flutter.

Telecom's new IP network is being built on Alcatel hardware. Ho hum, you say. But bits of the upgrade are set to make your corporate hearts pound and your collective pulse flutter.

Alcatel's 7300 ASAM is described as the "universal DSLAM" (DSL access multiplexer, to the copywriters). It will form the basis for the IP network rollout. It's the successor to "the most widely deployed DSL platform in the world", the 1000 ASAM. But what can it do for you, eager young bandwidth-hog that you are?

Well, how about completely revolutionising the voice industry by allowing Telecom to introduce voice over DSL so you pay for your voice calls by the megabyte? Want to keep the bill down? Don't shout. Voice quality, always an issue with packetisation, is considered to be comparable with ISDN digital telephony.

As well as helping Telecom offer better services to end customers and keeping costs down, these multiplexers will allow ISPs to better manage the bandwidth they lease. To quote from the glossy brochure: "Customers want streaming multimedia, voice, virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual office, high speed internet access, voice over DSL (VoDSL) and a whole host of other services in the future."

So while it may not look terribly inspiring, the end result might just blow your socks off.

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