NBN Co confirms analog phone support

The company charged with building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), NBN Co, yesterday said that the network will support legacy analog telephone services.

The company charged with building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), NBN Co, yesterday said that the network will support legacy analog telephone services.

Speaking in Sydney at an Australian Telecommunications User Group event yesterday, senior advisor for NBN Co Matthew Lobb, confirmed that the government-owned company will offer the capability to retail service providers (RSPs).

"We are developing a solution that enables legacy voice solutions to operate over the network," Lobb said. The model he showed appeared to have been gathered from Communications Alliance's public consultation discussion paper on the idea.

"The analog device ... can plug into our network terminating unit. There will be an [Analog Telephone/Terminal Adapter] ATA port that will enable that to occur," Lobb said.

The service's speed will be offered at 150 kilobits per second both upstream and downstream, which Lobb said was "a very generous allocation". It will enable the experience to be "exactly the same" as services currently offered today, Lobb said.

NBN Co had said back in March that it had received support for placing an ATA in the optical network termination unit (ONT).

"While voice via an ATA can be characterised as a transition technology and does involve extra costs, NBN Co believes its inclusion is likely to be in the interests of retail service providers and end users," it said at the time. "Built in POTS [plain old telephone service] is also an ideal scenario for migration from existing copper services where in-home wiring changes can be minimised," it said.

However, Optus and Symbio Networks had not been happy with the idea.

"The provision of so-called legacy voice by means of integrating an ATA with ONT is totally inconsistent with the minimalist approach publicised widely by NBN Co. The provision of voice service in the form of voice over IP (VoIP) via an ATA, just like other services and application, is best provided by [retail service providers] to maximise competition and innovations while delivering the best possible value to customers," Symbio Networks said.

Asked by ZDNet Australia yesterday if analog support will be available to those in the first stage roll-out of the broadband network in Tasmania, Lobb said he believed so, but that he wasn't quite sure. "I'll have to get back to you on that one."

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