New subdivisions to get first taste of super-fast web services

By Helen Twose

Up to 1000 homeowners in 10 new subdivisions will be the first to try the phone and internet services of the future delivered by fibre cables to their doorstep.

Telecom is laying fibre instead of the traditional copper network in subdivisions under construction in Orewa, Papakura, Cromwell, Queenstown and Wanaka, teaming up with WorldxChange Communications to run voice services over broadband.

Telecom Wholesale chief executive Matt Crockett said partnership with WorldxChange reflected the new operationally separated world where Telecom's wholesale division needed to compete aggressively for service provider customers.

Under the agreement with the Government to split the company into three parts, Telecom is required to offer other telcos the same terms and conditions to run services over its network as its own retail division.

"In the old world it would have been Telecom Retail as a matter of course but in the new world we are committed to open access in the network," said Crockett.

WorldxChange director Paul Clarkin said the company already had experience providing its broadband and voice over IP (VoIP) products over fibre in business districts.

"This is the first shot to get full residential fibre to the home services."

He said the company would be able to offer competitive pricing because all the services ran over the broadband network and would not require a separate line rental.

WorldxChange now offers an array of phone features as part of its "basic" VoIP service, including call forwarding to a different number, email notification of calls to your phone, voicemail forwarded to email and three-way calling, as well as the traditional phone services.

Clarkin said customers would be able to get the services by plugging in their current analogue phone.

One of the issues with a broadband voice network is maintaining voice services in a power cut - the traditional copper network runs on its own power supply.

Clarkin said running a trial VoIP service - the pilot project is scheduled to run until September - will help to resolve issues of next generation voice services up for discussion amongst members of the Telecommunications Carriers' Forum.

New territory

* Ten new residential subdivisions, including Karaka Ridge Estate, Auckland, Peninsula Bay, Wanaka and Delamain subdivision, Christchurch, will be the first to experience the next generation of phone services provided over broadband in a tie-up between Telecom, internet and phone company WorldxChange.

* Telecom will begin to switch off its copper-based network in favour of voice over broadband, aiming to complete the transition to an internet-based phone network by 2020.

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