Spark New Zealand has unveiled plans to upgrade its fixed line infrastructure, and will switch from its ageing PSTN to a next generation IP-based network over the course of the next five years. The telco notes that it has already successfully trialled the transition by consolidating and decommissioning ten of its smaller, more remote exchanges – out of the 482 PSTN exchanges scattered around the country. Another four exchanges will be decommissioned shortly. Spark is dubbing the new platform the Converged Communications Network (CCN), and notes that the upgrade will be ‘largely invisible’ to end-users, despite the massive technical and logistical undertaking.
Mark Beder, Spark’s chief operating officer, commented: ‘We’ve been talking about doing this for over a decade now, and many other countries are also in the process of retiring their PSTNs, so it’s great to finally be able to get on with it here. The PSTN has served New Zealanders extremely well for many decades, but it’s now nearing end of life and the clock is ticking. Its last big upgrade, to a digital switching platform, was over 30 years ago. Maintaining the network is becoming harder and harder – components are no longer manufactured, we’ve bought every second-hand part we can source from around the world, and people with the skills to maintain the technology are harder to find.’