NBN Co picks Primus for voice trial

NBN Co picks Primus for voice trial

Summary: After strong lobbying, Primus has been selected by NBN Co to test a software fix that will allow retailers to provide voice-only services over the National Broadband Network's (NBN) fibre.

TOPICS: NBN, Broadband

After strong lobbying, Primus has been selected by NBN Co to test a software fix that will allow retailers to provide voice-only services over the National Broadband Network's (NBN) fibre.

Primus CEO Tom Mazerski had been pushing NBN Co for a number of months to develop a voice-only product, telling ZDNet Australia in February, that there will be millions of pensioners and low-income households that won't be able to afford broadband services, and will only want a voice service. Until now, retail service providers, such as iiNet or Internode, have been providing voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services, through the data port on a network-terminating device, as part of a bundled package with a customer's broadband service.

Now, a four-week trial with Primus will test software that will make it easier for the retail service providers to deliver phone services through the UNI-V (user network interface-voice) port using the TR-069 standard, developed by the Broadband Forum. This port has an analog telephone adapter, which will allow customers to keep using their existing analog telephone equipment and retain the same phone number, after transitioning from the copper network.

There has been no change to NBN Co's product offering, however; NBN Co will still charge a retail service provider selling a voice-only service $24 per month, as it would for the basic 12 megabit per second broadband service.

NBN Co's chief operating officer Ralph Steffens said the test was designed to make it easy for retailers to offer voice-only services on the NBN.

"We understand that there will be a number of people who only want a telephone service, and that we need to offer quality telephone services, while making the transition to fibre as easy and straightforward as possible," he said in a statement.

Mazerski said Primus' objective is to ensure customers can get a better-quality voice connection after transitioning from copper to fibre.

"We believe this program will enable us to offer a quality voice product to all NBN consumer and business fibre customers."

Topics: NBN, Broadband


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Very good, the device will need to be mains powered, not so good for the hall table. I hope this service will offer emergency services.
    Knowledge Expert
    • Fortunately, with mobile phone penetration rates hovering around 125% of the population, it's not really an issue.
      People with just a lamp on their hallway tables may be forced into buying a double adaptor from Dick Smith, which is just another disgusting way the socialist government is using your tax dollars to prop up their mates from the power adaptor cartels.
    • The typical installation won't interfere with the lovely old hall telephone table.

      The powered box will be mounted on the wall, probably near or at the level of a power point. A traditional, wired phone can then be connected as before, with the only difference being that it has a new shiny port to plug into.
  • "Until now, retail service providers, such as iiNet or Internode, have been providing voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services..."

    All phone services on NBN are VoIP services, even the ones via the UNI-V port. The UNI-V port is just a simple ATA allowing a PSTN phone to talk SIP out the back of the NTD. What I don't get is how NBN Co has the gall to charge $24 for what is essentially a 150kb/s data link - the same as what they charge for a 12/1Mb/s link plus the same 150kb/s link. The same phone service on copper costs the SP $16 per month. With a 50% increase in the wholesale access price, how is any RSP supposed to break even without jacking up the retail price?
    • Well, that's legacy systems for you.

      NBN Co has prepared its wholesale prices on the grounds that it is providing a BROADBAND connection, one suitable for the 21st century and beyond.

      At this point in the game, complaining about there being little attention paid to "voice only" legacy customers is a bit like complaining that their are no feeding troughs for horses on the latest freeway.
      • The problem is that the NBN is replacing something that provides telephone services as well as broadband. If all it was replacing was the existing broadband services, you would have apoint, but it isn't.

        Also, the notion that phone services are "legacy" or the domain of little old ladies (I know you didn't, but others have) is the height of arrogance. Not everyone wants or needs broadband everywhere. In fact, the point behind the story is that not everyone needs or more importantly, can afford broadband. One of the early NBN documents said that more than a quarter of households had no internet access at all. Many of them didn't even have a computer. I have heard the argument about NBN delivering other services such as pay TV, but really, could a person who cannot afford a computer afford pay TV?

        Many retailers are too busy dealing with customers to need 100Mb internet access. All most would want is a phone. Even broken down next on a highway out of mobile coverage? If so, I'll bet you appreaciated using one of those roadside phones. I doubt you would be upset about not being able to update your Facebook status or posting a photo of your steaming radiator.

        With a little effort, I am sure you will be able to come up with many scenarios where a phone is needed but broadband isn't. Why can't the NBN address this large area of demand?
  • Good point, Gwyntaglaw, because anybody rabbiting on about how their phone has to go on the hall table will certainly be somebody who is likely to want to be able to feed and water their horses on the freeway.

    Yes, everything was so much better in the old days. Why did they ever get rid of the manual exchange system where you just turned a handle?

    No wonder he calls himself Doubt...
    • Thanks everyone for your kind and helpful comments. My reference to the telephone in the hall was a passing comment mainly on behalf of those people who really did not want to be bothered by all that technical stuff. Yes some people still like riding horses and that is ok with me. I like fast cars and new technology. My post was really seeking confirmation whether the NBN voice service would offer emergency services (000). No one seemed to address that point.
      Knowledge Expert
      • I think your '000' point is a legitimate one, but your question can be summarised as 'will I be able to call '000' on the NBN'. Obviously, you would be able to (I don't know many national communications networks where you can't) and until we're told otherwise, it's not worth discussing.

        I have a feeling you're getting your liberal party talking points mixed up. I believe the libs were originally trying to manufacture a drama by pointing out that dialling '000' won't work if the power is out (like in a bushfire or something) whereas you'd have a dial tone if using copper. Again, I think this is mitigated by my mobile phone point above, but even if we put that aside for a second, the benefits of fiber far outweigh this fairly trivial negative.
        I'm fairly certain even those living in bushfire prone areas will be willing to forgo the ability to make a landline call when the power is out for the benefits that the NBN brings.
        • RealismBias,
          The question was framed against the background that Skype (for example, although not a national carrier) who provide IP based telephony services on the Internet do not currently provide 000 services. If you procure a telephony service via Primus or other provider, who will provide the emergency service, which is currently supplied by Telstra?
          Knowledge Expert
          • I get where you're coming from, it's a valid point. I understand this has been catered for- more here:
        • Anyone can call 000 but the problem is identifying the caller's location. If you move a PSTN phone to an alternate location, the phone number of that alternate location does not change. In VoIP it does. This means that if someone moves a phone, their number can move with it. This may sound convenient for when you move house, but there are problems. It is important for the 000 operator to know where you are calling from. With PSTN, the database that maps your phone number to your address is reliable assuming it was correctly populated in the first place. With VoIP, it cannot be entirely trusted.

          So yes, you will be able to call 000, but will the operator be able to handle your call as effectively as they could in the past?
          • Oh FFS, if there isn't any FUD to spread, some will just create it.

            Tip, the operator asks where are you (as they would now) and the callers tells them where they are.. end of FUD...

            What a revelation...
          • Get a clue, then comment. The way it works is a lot more complex than you obviously think (and I use that last word very loosely).