Telecom won't be driven by one vendor

No equipment vendor could steer development of Telecom's network towards its particular products and render it unsuitable for rivals, the telco says.

No equipment vendor could steer development of Telecom's network towards its particular products and render it unsuitable for rivals, the telco says.

With the official opening of Telecom’s new technical development centre in Wellington this week, Telecom signalled that it is prepared to let its equipment suppliers and developers of novel devices recommend alterations to part or all of its data and mobile networks, so that their devices will work effectively with it.

But Telecom has the final say over alterations and upgrades, says Daniel Omundsen, a senior staff member at the centre. The centre, and the company as a whole, has to work with all developers of telecomms devices and cannot afford to displease some for the sake of pleasing others. “We can’t let one vendor drive us.”

The centre incorporates a model of the whole Telecom network. Developers can get advice from Telecom specialists and try their equipment on the simulation, rather than trusting that it will respond correctly, or moving straight to testing on the real network with the risk of damage.

The centre can simulate a normal workload, and this, says Omundsen, may help avoid situations like the problems with a switch in the ADSL network last year, which arose partly from users repeatedly trying to access the network while a false password was stuck in the system (Telecom suffers five hour ADSL failure).

However, the model cannot simulate actual users’ possibly eccentric behaviour; if a developer wanted to test against that, he says, it would have to recruit real trial users on the actual network.

Minor changes have already been made in billing processes to accommodate the needs of services being developed by Wellington’s Jungle Drum Systems.

The street-level centre has a “walk in” atmosphere designed to break down the barriers between Telecom and developers. It has been operating to some degree since late January. Applications already developed with its aid include a wireless system for job dispatch and logging of progress for Transfield Services, an Auckland company that maintains state houses; an ordering system for a cheese manufacturer; and an interface between mobile phones and vending and parking machines. This allows goods and time to be purchased by debit to the customer’s mobile phone account.

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