Three companies have been awarded funding under the Australian government’s AUD2 million (USD1.6 million) ‘Alternative Voice Services Trials Programme’, it has announced. In a press release, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) noted that the trials aim to ‘find better ways of delivering voice services in regional and remote Australia’.
The first of the three companies involved is NBN Co, which will reportedly use its funding to trial voice services across Australia, including across its fixed-wireless and satellite networks, while it will also trial a low band fixed-wireless solution. Meanwhile, ConceroTel will deliver up to 200 trial voice services in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Norfolk Island, with a view to providing better VoIP services to mobile phones reliant on satellite links. Finally, Zetifi will deliver up to 50 trial voice services to provide improved Wi-Fi calling for farms in rural and remote areas of New South Wales and northern Victoria that currently experience poor mobile coverage. According to the regulator, some of the trials will include antennas or battery backup at homes as part of the service, with these ‘intended to provide a more robust service with better in-home call quality’.
Looking ahead, the government has said it is currently finalising grant agreements with other shortlisted applicants and expects to make further announcements about other successful projects ‘shortly’. Commenting on the matter, communications minister Paul Fletcher said: ‘The trials are a great opportunity for new players to demonstrate new ways to provide better voice services, more in line with changing consumer needs particularly for greater mobility.’