Multilayered services are the name of the next telecommunications game, says Nokia Corp., and they rely on something Telecom New Zealand Ltd. has already begun to implement -- the all-IP (Internet Protocol) network.
Telcos will begin to offer services that blur the lines between mobile and fixed-line connections and between voice and data, say Nokia's director of broadband access, Stephen Tsang, and the company's Kiwi expatriate director of marketing for broadband, Graham Ellis.
"Rich calls, where you combine voice with data, are the future," says Ellis, who says to do that telco operators must move towards an all-IP network. "Once you've merged all services into a single network you can reduce the cost of supplying a service and introduce new services -- you can optimize and extend your offerings."
Telecom New Zealand recently announced its plan to do just that, though in partnership with French telco Alcatel rather than Finland's Nokia.
"Once that's in place you can offer services that are customer-based rather than technology-based," says Ellis. Consider an e-mail that arrives on the network, he says. "The network will know whether you're at your desk and if not it will be able to send the e-mail subject line on to your cellphone."
Tsang offers another example in the consumer market. "When you log on to the movie server via your TV set, the system notes that you're using your TV and gives you an interface to match. Log on via your Nokia Communicator, for example, and a different interface will offer you perhaps only the movie trailers."
Ellis says the same flexibility can be used by an entire household. "If you're working from home and need to send out a large file you may need more bandwidth upstream, so the network realizes this and adapts. But once you've finished for the day and want to watch a movie, then the network shifts to allow you the maximum download possible."
Tsang says Nokia is already building the equipment needed to offer such services.
"We're building intelligent routers and servers that sit at the edge of an all-IP network as well as second-generation DSLAMs that can handle the throughput."
Once users begin to take advantage of multiple channels of data to a home, the demands on the DSLAMs and the exchanges will increase exponentially, demanding an upgrade in the technology deployed.
"Legacy systems aren't going to cope with the bandwidth demands of a home that has someone working, someone else playing games and a third person watching a movie over DSL."
While watching TV over your DSL connection may seem far-fetched, Ellis says Telecom's existing network could offer such a facility.
"You don't have to wait for VDSL (very fast DSL) and speeds of 20 to 52M bits per second download. You can offer TV services over ADSL at the moment." The problem is that the number of users making use of such a service at any one time may degrade overall performance. Ellis expects to see the VDSL offerings coming to market commercially in the next year or so.
"Germany, for example, has been trialling VDSL for the last four years."