New T&T brings in portable numbers
The first application to be delivered on New T & T's Intelligent Network (IN) software platform is number portability, replacing the call forwarding system the company has been using through its Nortel DMS switch.
Control of the network has now been transferred from the switch to the computers in the IN, which will result in a range of as yet unannounced services.
All the fixed-network operators have to provide number portability to allow customers to change operators without having to change numbers. This is a key aspect of liberalising any telecommunications market, particularly in the business sector.
The company says it is the world's first IN-based number portability system in commercial operation.
Eddie Paterson, data applications markets manager for New T & T, said the IN-based portability system was far faster than the old method and could handle a higher call load.
'Now it will be far easier for us to expand. It had reached the stage where in some areas we were running out of capacity on the switch.' The IN is a computer system based on a Stratus Continuum platform layered above the already intelligent switch system in New T & T's network.
Calls come into the switch and if number portability or any other programmed service is required, a query goes to an Oracle software database in the network's Service Control Point (SCP).
The database contains a record of every ported (changed) number from every operator. The SCP sends a message back to the switch identifying the correct connection details and the call is directly connected to the right party in less than half a second.
New T & T uses the AIN 0.1 protocol for communicating between the switch and SCP.
'It is transparent to the customer,' Mr Paterson said. 'Each network operator is assigned a gateway number, which allows a call to switch quickly to Hutchison and New World, for example, whereas before all calls had to go through Hongkong Telecom.' 'The software has to run a big database very, very quickly and switch the call so the customer doesn't notice the delay. We spent a lot of time with Stratus tuning it for maximum performance.' Stratus developed the software with New Zealand subcontractor TSSC, a subsidiary of Telecom NZ. The design process began in June and, according to Mr Paterson, was split about equally between writing the specifications, writing the code and testing.
'It has to be designed very carefully, because you can't afford to have any calls dropped. You need to know it will work and work every time.' Stratus was chosen as the hardware platform largely because of its fault tolerance and extraordinary self-diagnostic technology which includes the ability to call in an engineer with the appropriate spares to fix the system.
Extra processors can be added to the Stratus hardware in the IN to meet demand.