TelstraSaturn could finally be realising a much talked about vision from the mid 1990s - personal communications systems or PCS.
Both BellSouth, since bought out by Vodafone, and Telecom talked at length about PCS in 1996, defining and re-defining just what it meant. Was it simply a cellphone with voicemail or did it include text messaging and web surfing?
These days such questions are moot: both Telecom and Vodafone are about to launch new network services that would do all of the above and more. TelstraSaturn is trialing a service that could solve the last stumbling block to PCS, producing one unit to replace both cellphone and desk phone.
“Most GSM cellphones are dual band these days - we’d look at using the 1800 band inside a company office so the cellphone would become, in effect, the landline,” says TelstraSaturn director of network technology Tony Baird.
TelstraSaturn would install base units inside a company office to form a “pico-network” that would switch the cellphones away from Vodafone to the company network. Internal calls wouldn’t be billed and incoming calls would be directed to the cellphone instead of landline.
“There are obviously issues like functionality - people like to be able to forward calls and the handover between networks has to be seamless. It has to be transparent.” Baird says TelstraSaturn is working closely with Vodafone on these issues - the two telcos already have a business partnership with Vodafone providing the mobile network for TelstraSaturn’s customers.
TelstraSaturn isn’t resting there either - it is also trialing a wireless IP network beamed from the Sky Tower.
“It runs at 512Kbit/s although there is an option to run at 2Mbit/s, although with fewer customers obviously,” says Baird. The network would be rolled out to the main centres and allow companies to run virtual private networks (VPNs) or virtual local area networks (VLANs) with branch offices in any of the three main centres.
“They’d also get their voice calls running over the network as well as data and we could provide virtual routers to connect to the internet,” says Baird.