Telstra New Zealand has signed up as the first major telecommunications company to use the almost-finished Sky Tower in Auckland.
It enacted the signing for journalists and cameras on a windswept outdoor floor of the Sky Tower, surrounded by packing crates and the best view of Auckland you’ll get anywhere short of a helicopter.
The top third of the Sky Tower is a metal rod, under which are four circular observation decks, a revolving restaurant and concrete tower base. As the tallest building in Auckland (at 328 metres it’s 8m taller than the Eiffel Tower and 24m taller than Sydney’s Centrepoint Tower), six floors of the tower are being hired out for FM radio broadcasting, TV transmission and other business and telecommunications applications.
Telstra is a tenant in a space a little more than halfway up the tower — just above one of the observation decks — and will be putting equipment in place in June to enhance its voice, data and Internet traffic delivery.
Telstra says it hopes to be an innovator in the use of new technologies such as microwave which doesn’t rely on lines and fibre in the ground to carry traffic.
Telstra New Zealand general manager Steven Stanford says Telecom’s lines were not compatible with the European Tele-communications Standards Interface (ETSI), which meant Telstra — which conformed to the standard — had faced difficulties in providing ISDN services in New Zealand.
That’s where the Sky Tower comes in.
“The first reason we are using equipment in the Sky Tower is to [send] microwave signals to customers from our switch, and the second reason is to have redundancy. If a fixed line or a Telecom relay goes down we can provide an alternative route for our customers.”
Telstra transmission manager Paul Clarkin says customers will be able to send and receive microwave signals from a dish connected into their PABX or LAN. The microwave signals will go to Telstra’s microwave equipment on the Sky Tower and join the fibre-optic network running around the city.
Sky City managing director Evan Davies says the telecommunications aspect of the Sky Tower is important. “A substantial component of the income from the Sky Tower will come from the leasing of the telecommunications facilities.”
Telstra hopes to have installed its equipment and be conducting trials with customers by June.