Telstra today announced that it would make Voice over IP (VoIP) services available to its residential broadband customers next year.
The carrier said that the number of residential broadband subscribers supported on its network was now approaching mass-market proportions.
According to a statement that the carrier released on the Australian Stock Exchange today, Telstra has already begun trialling the service and has committed to deploying a nationally scalable version of the technology across its network by the end of 2005.
Telstra said it would slowly divert capital expenditure on its conventional local switching technology, Voice on Packet, to software-based IP switches.
However, Telstra technology group managing director, Ted Pretty today argued that revenues from its conventional Public Switched Telephone Network would continue.
VoIP is not yet a replacement for Telstra's PSTN network, in which substantial investment continues to be made. "Instead, voice over broadband using IP is expected to be initially attractive as a second or additional fixed line," said Pretty.
He added that initial widespread adoption would be limited by service quality constraints on the technology, such as caller location for 000 calls, poor user familiarity, and the need for new handsets to access advanced features of IP telephony.
The telecommunications giant's announcement comes hard on the heels of fledgling wireless broadband provider Unwired's decision to go public with its VoIP plans.
Unwired late last month said it would start trialling the service before the end of the year with a view to making it available to its subscribers by the beginning of next year.
The wireless provider is yet to announce which carrier will provide it with termination services to access the publicly switched network.