Council showcases broadband technology

A city council in Western Australia is boasting the implementation of Australia's biggest computer-based, wide-area network telephone system.

The telecommunications system implemented by the City of Melville works over its computer network and links outlying sites using fibre optics.

It caters for more than 300 users including 10 remote sites and provides high-speed broadband Internet access at five libraries.

The council claims the system, provided by Marconi Australia and Cisco, has reduced costs by eliminating 60 individual telephone connections; it has also introduced live video links to reduce regional travel by staff.

John McNally, City of Melville CEO, said the telephone handsets being used by the new system are miniaturised computers that have the ability to link the phone user to a database and display retrieved information on a small screen.

He said the new system is quicker than traditional switchboards and has turned the council facilities, including libraries and recreation centres, into customer service points for the payment of rates.

"The technology is easily updated which makes our communications futureproof for the next decade," McNally said.

Marconi is using the council as a showcase for broadband technology in presentations to government and the private sector across Australia.