Qantas launches massive network

Qantas yesterday officially launched a new domestic telecommunications network, believed to be worth $300 million.

Linking 150 Qantas sites and 6000 workstations across the country, the new network, dubbed QIPNet (Qantas Internet Protocol Network), will provide integrated telephony, data, internet and intranet services.

Partly operational now, the network has been under construction for the last 18 months and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

James Strong, CEO and managing director of Qantas said QIPNet replaces Qantas' existing network which was "costly to maintain" and "inflexible".

Strong said the new network will provide improved service levels, including faster speed, high network availability, network reporting capability, year 2000 compliance and the ability to deploy internet and intranet applications and other emerging technologies.

"It doesn't fundamentally change what we're doing," Strong said.

"It means we will have better linkages between our booking centres . . .better connectivity, more reliability, more stability."

Strong said the greatest benefit would be improved service for customers.

Whilst Strong declined to put an exact figure on the project, Computerworld Today understands the six year contract is in the order of $300 million.

Ziggy Switkowski, CEO of key provider, Telstra said the core of the network is based on high speed high capacity ATM technology, with Telstra frame relay used to connect peripheral sites.

Telstra, along with consortium partners, Advantra, Cisco, Nortel and Memorex Telex were selected in 1998 following a tender process which included a three month interim consultancy agreement in February 1998. The contract was officially awarded and signed in July 1998.

According to David Burden, IT manager for Qantas, pricing was not the sole determining factor for Telstra's selection.

"The determining factor was the partnership. [Qantas wanted to] create a partnership to focus on delivering something tangible to Qantas' customers, " Burden said.

"It was Telstra's agreement to work that way that made the decision."

A combined Telstra Qantas Care Team, of 30 staff located at Telstra's Pitt Street office, has been operational since the start of the project and manages and monitors the entire network around the clock.

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