Spark un­plug­ging old land­line sys­tem


Land­line phone calls are in for a shake-up with Spark set to un­plug the tech­nol­ogy that has un­der­pinned phone calls since their in­ven­tion in 1876.

The com­pany will phase out the pub­lic switched tele­phone net­work (PSTN) over the next five years in favour of an in­ter­net­based phone sys­tem that it says will al­low peo­ple to do more with their phones.

With the right equip­ment peo­ple would be able to get a range of new fea­tures, spokesman Sam Durbin said.

‘‘For ex­am­ple a cus­tomer could start a voice call and seam­lessly change it into a video call.’’

Cus­tomers would also be able to trans­fer calls from their land­line to their mo­bile, and set up their phones so their land­lines and mo­biles rang at the same time so they could pick up a call on ei­ther.

Spark has been dis­cussing the end of the PSTN and tout­ing the ben­e­fits of smarter tech­nol­ogy for more than 10 years.

Net­work gen­eral man­ager Colin Brown said the mi­gra­tion would start in earnest early next year.

Brown agreed land­lines could be as­signed mul­ti­ple phone num­bers – for ex­am­ple one for each fam­ily mem­ber or sep­a­rate num­bers for work and per­sonal calls.

That raises the prospect that fam­i­lies could de­cide which calls they wanted to ring through, with the rest go­ing to voice­mail.

The sound qual­ity of calls would im­prove with the switch to what Spark is call­ing its con­verged com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work (CCN), Brown said.

How­ever, there will be some draw­backs.

While there would be no need for peo­ple to re­place their home phones, Brown said a small num­ber of older se­cu­rity and med­i­cal alarms and switch­boards would not work af­ter the switch.

Chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Mark Beder said that for most peo­ple the switch should be ‘‘largely in­vis­i­ble, with min­i­mal dis­rup­tion to ser­vices’’.

The PSTN was last over­hauled in New Zealand 30 years ago, and Beder said main­tain­ing and find­ing parts for it was be­com­ing 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.’’


De­com­mis­sion­ing the PSTN will in­volve scrap­ping more than 1300 tons of equip­ment at 482 phone ex­changes, such as this one in Pon­sonby, Auck­land.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.