New Zealand incumbent to phase out ageing PSTN over next five years.

Spark New Zealand on Wednesday detailed plans to retire its ageing PSTN and upgrade to an IP-based network.

The new network will be phased in over the next five years. The telco has already trialled the transition by decommissioning 10 of its smaller, more remote PSTN exchanges. Another four are due to be decommissioned soon, Spark said. In all, the company has 482 exchanges scattered across the country.

"We’ve been talking about doing this for over a decade now, and many other countries are also in the process of retiring their PSTNs, so it’s great to finally be able to get on with it here," said Mark Beder, Spark’s chief operating officer.

"The PSTN has served New Zealanders extremely well for many decades, but it’s now nearing end of life and the clock is ticking. Its last big upgrade, to a digital switching platform, was over 30 years ago," he said.

End users should not notice the upgrade taking place, and most should not need to buy a new device, Spark said. However, those with legacy dial-up services, including older medical and house alarms, point-of-sale terminals, and PABX systems will need to upgrade to new, IP-based products.

Spark’s new IP network will form the basis for a whole host of communication services.

"Increasingly, customers are choosing alternatives to the old copper-based PSTN as their use of digital voice applications increases. Already, around 50% of New Zealand homes and businesses are using other technologies like voice over fibre, voice over wireless, using their mobile for voice communications or relying on messaging applications," Beder said.

"It’s time to make the switch."