Telstra expects to make its final major decision in the rollout of its massive Data Mode of Operation project in a matter of weeks.
The carrier is close to finalising suppliers for its IP-enabled new-generation telephony network, said Graham Shepherd, managing director of Telstra's customer solutions.
While this announcement is regarded as the last big decision for Telstra under the DMO project, Shepherd said new value-add services will be rolled out on the new infrastructure "for quite some time".
Telstra announced on Monday it is in "advanced negotiations" with KPMG Consulting for the provision of stage three of the project.
Under the deal, which is estimated to be worth in the tens of millions of dollars in its first year, KPMG will supply new architecture for an online service management solution or customer service offering, Shepherd said.
"We expect to put more and more services, systems and processes on the (new architecture) and I expect KPMG will win a good proportion of (those deals) in time," Shepherd said.
The new technology will enable Telstra's corporate and residential customers to view their accounts, bills and services online without necessarily contacting a customer service representative. Customers will be able to switch plans online, Shepherd said.
The architecture provided by KPMG will provide an online front-end interface for customers as well as a methodology for developing new services to get to market faster and at lower cost, Shepherd said.
"We are currently doing some online (customer service) through the Telstra Online Channel. This will empower that enormously," he said.
According to Shepherd, KPMG was selected from a short-list comprising Andersen Consulting, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, following an intensive tender process launched late last year.
Although the deal is not yet signed and sealed, KMPG has already started work on the contract.
"I have no expectations that it is not going to go through. It's all systems go as far as I'm concerned," Shepherd said.
"The first series of deliverables will be rolled out in the August to November time frame. From there on, more things will be coming."
Meanwhile, Shepherd said rollout plans to the DMO continue to run on track: Telstra's ATM and frame relay networks have been integrated to new networks and are carrying traffic; trials are underway for the wholesale and retail ADSL services, with the commercial launch slated for August; and the GPRS network for mobile data is well advanced in Sydney and Melbourne, he said.