Utility launches RoIP project

Country Energy is implementing one of Australia's first commercial radio over Internet Protocol (RoIP) solutions.

The radio-enabled network will allow the utility's geographically dispersed workforce to communicate in real time, and interact with the company's existing IP network.

The project is being undertaken by an IBM Australia company Cerulean as part of a three-year agreement with Country Energy to design, build and maintain the network.

It will be used to integrate support teams spread across NSW reducing infrastructure and operating costs.

Country Energy manages Australia's largest power supply network - serving more than 780,000 customers. According to group general manager networks and infrastructure, Ken Stonestreet the solution will significantly enhance the company's reliability and responsiveness.

"By integrating disparate radio networks, this solution will allow our four operational service centres to operate as a single, virtual entity, allowing for greater efficiencies and cross-company collaboration," he said.

"Our regional support teams will be able to share workloads more easily, creating a more responsive, focused organization."

The innovative solution will enable the transmission of two-way radio traffic over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, using standards-based Voice over IP technology voice gateways. By installing radio-enabled gateway routers at base stations, repeaters, and dispatch consoles, standard radio voice signals can be converted into Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) packets suitable for transport over Country Energy's IP network.

Not only will the company's geographically dispersed teams be able to communicate by radio, but they will also be able to connect to internal phone extensions and reach external numbers, including mobile phones. In addition, the provision of services can be switched seamlessly between regional support centres, allowing Country Energy to respond more effectively in the event of an emergency.

Cerulean general manager Simon Walsh said the RoIP project is expected to reach completion by the end of the year.

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