Commander set for IP telephony

Commander set for IP telephony

Summary: Upgrading its core national network to interconnect with ADSL infrastructure is a priority for corporate comms specialist Commander as it moves toward an Internet Protocol-based (IP) telephony platform.In addition, the company is consolidating previously disparate customer relationship management systems into one system based on Microsoft's CRM package.

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Upgrading its core national network to interconnect with ADSL infrastructure is a priority for corporate comms specialist Commander as it moves toward an Internet Protocol-based (IP) telephony platform.

In addition, the company is consolidating previously disparate customer relationship management systems into one system based on Microsoft's CRM package. In April of last year the company had around 1,000 staff nationwide.

Commander's managing director Adrian Coote told ZDNet Australia  his company will upgrade its core network to a carrier class 5 IP environment, spending a total of AUD$27.5 million on its infrastructure over the next year.

"That means we can prioritise voice packets [over other data traffic]," he said, pointing out this was essential to provision of business-class IP telephony services.

The move represents a gradual change in direction for Commander, which has built its success on providing traditional analogue phone systems to corporate and SME customers. In April of 2004 the company had around 150,000 of those systems active in the market.

Key to Commander's plans is the provision of so-called "last-mile" access from its network to businesses' facilities. A multifaceted strategy will tackle that hurdle, utilising other telcos' -- and potentially Commander's own -- ADSL infrastructure, with recently acquired iBurst wireless technology filling the gaps.

Coote said iBurst -- which came with the purchase of wireless telco Personal Broadband Australia -- would connect those of its customers that were located too far away from a phone exchange to get ADSL services, or in areas where ADSL could not be provided for other reasons.

The Commander boss would not rule out the idea that his company would install its own digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAM) in Telstra's telephone exchanges, but said the option of using other people's hardware was preferred.

Coote said iBurst manufacturer Kyocera had committed to providing a last-mile capability to Commander. "With the large number of customers that we've got, that ability to effectively bypass the [Telstra-owned] copper loop is attractive to us," he said.

On the CRM front, Commander is "giving our customer care and sales staff a single dashboard appearance for multiple customer sets within multiple product disciplines," said Coote.

He said Commander's string of acquisitions had come with a multitude of customer management techniques. "We're unifying in one aspect against all customer types and against all staff types," he said.

Bush bashing
Although Coote sees iBurst as a useful last-mile enabler for businesses, he also acknowledged it could help fill in the gaps in broadband access for rural Australia.

However, as much as Commander would love to roll out iBurst to rural areas, Coote claimed current government incentives to do so weren't sufficient.

"The way the subsidies in the bush currently work is that they assist people who already have infrastructure there," said Coote, flagging the per-subscriber nature of government funding as a downer. "In our mind that's not really the right solution."

He noted Commander would be talking to the government about iBurst's suitability for service provision in rural areas.

The iBurst service is currently available in selected areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Topics: Unified Comms, Telcos

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