Spark progresses PSTN to IP upgrade with IP multimedia subsystem

Switches on Ericsson IMS

Spark says it has completed the first major milestone in its plan to convert its circuit-switched public telephone network into an IP based network, dubbed the ‘Converged Communications Network’ (CCN), by switching on an IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) provided by Ericsson.

The IMS is, Spark says, “a key piece that enables the CCN to centrally switch voice calls regardless of the calls origin, whether the calls come from a landline, mobile or data based call.”

Spark announced in April 2017 a five-year plan to scrap its public switched public telephone network and replace it with an IP network to underpin fixed and mobile voice services, video services and what Spark called ‘data based’ communications.

The plan called for the replacement of 482 telephone exchanges and two nodes that support intelligent network services with three network nodes — two in the North Island and one in the South Island to provide redundancy – to deliver a wide range of IP based voice and data services including voice over WiFi, voice over LTE, videoconferencing and collaboration.

The upgrade was to be undertaken in three phases. Phase one, to be completed by the end of 2018 would see the new core network built along with two of the planned three nodes and existing exchanges being decommissioned. 

Spark said today that it had already decommissioned 10 percent of these exchanges, that a further two would be decommissioned each week over the next 12 months, and that all new fibre and wireless broadband customers who sign up for a landline would have their calls processed over the new CCN.

Spark technology director Mark Beder said the CCN “marks the biggest improvement to our voice communications platform that Spark has undertaken since we upgraded to digital switching 30 years ago.”

Spark’s network evolution lead Colin Brown said the CCN would bring all voice communications (landline, mobile, video or data-based) together in one platform.

“It will provide New Zealanders with a new, stable and robust voice platform that sets us up for the future. It’ll also means we’re able to deploy future voice services faster, such as voice over 4G (LTE).”


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