Social Welfare (now officially the Ministry of Social Policy) is rolling out voice-over-IP (Internet protocol) in the new year, making it the first government department to implement the technology.
"There was no option for the future — it's the only way to go forward," says IS coordinator Neil Miranda. This is the first step in a plan to integrate voice and data over IP. Internet Business Group suggests enterprises can save up to 50% of network costs by implementing an IP solution.
Clear has been upgrading the network for the ministry, which last year upgraded to Clear's ATM backbone and 28.8Mbit circuits.
"We've been doubling our bandwidth for the same cost every year. The same formula applies with IP, except we will get voice for free," Miranda says.
The network will connect more than 200 sites nationally.
Miranda says the whole infrastructure has been upgraded to cater for IP. "Hubs, switches and routers have all been geared for it."
Testing will begin later this month.
All the carriers are experimenting with IP, largely driven by the penetration of the Internet, which has provided critical mass and is driving business online. In this part of the world they are keeping a close eye on an IP over VPN (virtual private network) service launched last month in Australia by Optus.
IP over VPN is seen as a way to handle the bandwidth demands imposed by applications such as ERP, e-commerce and supply-chain management. Traditional network services are not very well suited to such new-generation services and can slow them down significantly.