New Zealand telco Spark has launched the next phase of its landline voice calling upgrade, starting with 1,000 home and business customers spread across Devonport, Auckland and Miramar, Wellington. The company considers the PSTN to be ‘at the end of its lifecycle’ and will move customers currently on copper connections to ‘voice over wireless’ or ‘voice over fibre’ technologies. Spark has also made the decision to withdraw all its copper-based broadband services in these areas.
In September Spark will send customers in Devonport and Miramar information on the options it can provide at their address. Customers opting to move to the company’s voice over wireless will receive a new modem and two new wireless handsets free of charge, while customers in areas covered by fibre will be offered free installation and a new handset. Spark plans to stop providing services over the old PSTN network in these areas from 18 December 2020.
Spark Customer Director Grant McBeath said the upgrade is about ensuring Spark’s customers have access to modern technology that will keep them connected. ‘The reality is that the old network of switches that currently underpins voice calling is end-of-life. Its components have not been manufactured for 17 years, and the people with the skills needed to maintain this technology are also getting harder to find,’ he noted.
Spark reports it began the process of migrating over a million customers from its PSTN network in 2017 and the figure now stands at 400,000 subscribers, with another 10,000 customers on average making the switch every month.