More details emerge on Telecom NZ’s NGN network

Details of Telecom New Zealand Ltd.’s “Next Generation Network” are starting to emerge as customers enter into negotiations to use it.

The network, known by the acronym NGN, has been developed with Telecom’s network manager, Alcatel, since 2002, and will replace the existing voice and data networks. In August this year Telecom said the total investment for the NGN is around NZ$1 billion (US$718 million) over ten years.

Much of the money for the NGN will be spent on expanding Telecom’s fibre-optic network over the next five years. Some NZ$120 million has been allocated for fibre-to-the-kerb and NZ$10 million for the Flat Bush/Highbrook fibre-to-the-premises pilot in south Auckland.

For customers, the NGN will be a “smart” network that is managed end to end by Telecom 24 hours a day with service guarantees. Russell Locke, Telecom’s head of product development and management, says users won’t be troubled by implementation details. “The complexity of the network is shielded from the customer, who can pass a variety of traffic knowing that it will be handled correctly,” he says.

Expanding on the advantages of such a smart setup compared to a traditional “dumb” network, Locke says that customers currently need to shape and queue traffic appropriately to get it across the network. Even then, he adds, there may be bottlenecks deeper in a network or at a congested access point that cannot be managed from the customer’s viewpoint.

The biggest benefit of an end to end managed network, Locke says, is that it becomes predictable and simple to use.

To achieve the simplicity, Locke says it is necessary for Telecom to provide the network end-points and to manage them. That way, Telecom guarantees the Quality of Service (QoS) end-to-end, and not just across the core network, he adds.

Asked if this meant customers had to use Telecom-supplied routers, Locke says customer access from the end points to the core network is a critical part of providing an end to end service guarantee. According to Locke, to make this work, the parameters in the end equipment are always matched to the configuration of the core network, and the management systems control and monitor both ends.

The network endpoints are provided as part of the service, he says, and share routing information with customers’ networks. There is a raft of optional features including redundancy and it provides access speeds from 128kbit/s up to 1Gbit/s.

“We have initially settled on standard equipment and an end to end management system to make sure the QoS s measured and can be guaranteed. However, this may change in the future as technology allows,” Locke says.

Customers won’t be able to run their own routing protocols such as OSPF over the network. Customers’ routing protocols interact with the NGN rather than passing directly over it, Locke says. This is necessary to support high availability options where dual links may be provided, he adds. Potential customers have signed confidentiality clauses and declined to comment. However, Computerworld understands some are disappointed that Telecom won’t allow them to directly manage services across the NGN.

However, there will be some flexibility for customers who wish to modify QoS parameters on the network. Locke says there are different mixes of QoS parameters a customer can choose for each site. A customer can choose to tag their own traffic to the correct QoS value, or Telecom can do this for them in the endpoints.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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