Telstra opens $50m IP network lab

Telstra has launched a $50 million laboratory in Melbourne to test its new IP network which is slated to deliver data and voice services to some 5.3 million customers in five years.

The Telstra Integration Laboratory was officially opened by chief operations officer Greg Winn, who said it is a key part of the company's partnership with global suppliers to accelerate the roll out of its new IP-based core network.

The new IP network is based on fibre optic cable and will supplement the traditional PSTN core network.

"It will deliver multiple services at lower costs and faster speeds, driving information over a fibre optic core network which will have 77 times greater capacity," Winn said. "The new laboratory will conduct end-to-end testing of the IP network and associated new products, enabling their smooth integration into Telstra's network."

Telstra's global partners - Alcatel, Cisco, Juniper, Tellabs and Ericsson - have equipment and teams on site at the laboratory to test and deploy the new technology.

"This laboratory is one of a kind - it contains a unique combination of next-generation equipment and technology, and on-site expertise from global partners to deliver the best outcomes for our customers," Winn said. "Industry leaders who normally compete with each other are now working side-by-side to build this new IP network and transform the way our customers work, communicate and access information and entertainment."

Winn said the laboratory will test the only operational softswitch in Australia to ensure its seamless transition into the IP network.

Telstra will replace 116 exchange PSTN switches with five mated pairs of Alcatel softswitches in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney by the end of 2008.

"Each softswitch is roughly the size of a refrigerator and can handle up to a million customers unlike current generation exchange switches which take up the size of a small building and can only service 120,000 customers," Winn said, adding they will result in a 90 percent reduction of hardware with up to a 2000 percent increase in capacity.

The lab can also diagnose the root cause of any significant network problems and test procedures associated with network upgrades and migrations.

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