The ISP's managing director Stuart Marburg confirmed the plans to ZDNet Australia today, following a late December e-mail informing customers of the move.
Declining to specify the exact date of the customer launch beyond "the first half of 2006", Marburg said Netspace was currently conducting a "limited internal trial" of the technology. The service is being implemented using hardware from Cisco.
"We've used VoIP internally for the last 5 or 6 years," he said. "So a lot of the hardware in our network was already in place."
Marburg knows his company's solution well and uses it personally. For example, he placed VoIP calls back to Australia from his Apple laptop during a recent trip overseas.
While he did not comment further on technical or pricing details of Netspace's future offering, the December e-mail claimed customers could expect "substantial cost savings on phone bills", adding they would not be locked into the "restrictive and unattractive bundling options" sold by competitors.
Customers will be able to access Netspace's offering via PC-based "softphone" software similar to Skype, or hardware-based devices like those sold by Engin and MyNetFone.
A new VoIP offering isn't all Netspace has in the pipeline for 2006. When the Internet phone goes live to the market the ISP will simultaneously start offering customers pre-selection for long-distance, mobile and international calls.
The service will add to Netspace's existing long distance phone card service, which it has offered for several years through its Encircle brand.
That service keeps costs down by routing calls using VoIP within Netspace's own network. "But we haven't really promoted it in the last 12-18 months," admitted Marburg.
Lighting up dark fibre
Meanwhile, Marburg also confirmed at least some parts of Netspace's planned network expansion in Melbourne had been completed.
The ISP contracted local high-speed networking and peering specialist PIPE Networks in late May last year to provide network services over dark fibre in Melbourne.
Dark fibre is so-called 'unlit' optical fibre that allows users to connect their networks in the way they see fit, gaining massive amounts of bandwidth in the process.
The AU$1.2 million three-year contract gave PIPE the impetus to construct dark fibre between six datacentres and 15 telephone exchange in Melbourne.
"From what I believe, I think [the dark fibre rollout] was due to be completed, and I haven't heard anything contrary to the fact that it hasn't," said Marburg.
Netspace has thus far primarily sold Telstra's wholesale broadband services to customers, but the PIPE network will connect with the Ericsson-based ADSL infrastructure Netspace is building in Telstra's telephone exchanges and give the ISP some measure of independence.
The managing director added Netspace's new infrastructure in several of those exchanges had gone live as a result of the PIPE network, allowing Netspace to deliver high-speed ADSL2+ services to its customers living in those areas. However he noted pricing had not yet been finalised.
ADSL2+ is an extension of the ADSL broadband standard that allows speeds of up to 24Mbps, as opposed to the original 8Mbps, or the 1.5Mbps that Telstra's wholesale service is limited to. It is currently being sold by Netspace competitors such as iiNet, Internode and Adam Internet. In addition others like Telstra and TPG have recently announced huge rollouts of network infrastructure to support future services on the standard.