The ability to make telephone calls is so embedded in our everyday lives that it is largely taken for granted. That ability is of course backed up by a huge investment in infrastructure.
In urban areas, there is usually the choice of fixed and mobile networks to make calls. In rural and remote areas, callers are often dependent on a single network operated by Telstra and supported by Commonwealth and industry funding that offers one basic product: a plain old telephone service.
The $2 million Alternative Voice Services trials program (or AVST) aims to identify new ways to deliver voice services, including by new providers, assess their effectiveness, and raise awareness of alternative solutions to provide better services and functionality.
Six AVST grants have now been awarded to Concerotel, NBN Co, Optus, Pivotel, Telstra and Zetifi to deliver up to 885 trial services in different rural and remote locations across Australia.
- NBN Co will deliver up to 260 trial services nationwide. It will trial voice services over data on its fixed wireless and satellite networks, and also trial voice services using a new low band fixed wireless solution. It is in a consortium with Australian Private Networks, Field Solutions Group, MultiWave and Telstra.
The trial services typically involve new applications of technologies like wireless and satellite. They often provide new functionality such as the ability to make and receive calls using the customer’s mobile handset in the home even if mobile network coverage is poor or absent.
Most of the trials include equipment like external antennas and back-up batteries to increase service reliability.
The trials are now ramping up with grantees recruiting participants. The trials will run for a year, concluding in June 2022.
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