West Australian ISP Swiftel will soon commence trials of a second phone line service for its broadband customers to run over their DSL connection.
Swiftel director Colin Marland said the ISP is in the process of launching its "alternate second phone line" service, which will give users an additional phone line with dial tone and phone number over their existing DSL circuit. Customers will be able to use any analogue phone to make and receive calls over the second line.
Marland coined the service "hybrid VoIP". The second phone line operates through an interface (black box) that converts the Voice over IP (VoIP) transmission from the customer's DSL Internet connection to analogue at the gateway between the PSTN and IP networks. It will also do the reverse, allowing customers to receive analogue calls.
Swiftel currently has phone number ranges for its forthcoming phone service in Perth and Sydney, and will eventually extend into Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. The second phone line will only be available to customers on 512Kbps/126Kbps ADSL plans or better.
The solution was devised by New Zealand CallPlus director and Swiftel stakeholder Malcolm Dick. It is currently being offered in New Zealand as a managed phone services solution called Commverge.
While initial local trials of the alternative phone line service will be run out of CallPlus's switch in New Zealand, switches for Swiftel's commercial service are expected to be deployed in Australia within the next month.
Calls over the second phone line from Swiftel to Swiftel customer, or those which bypasses the public network (IP to IP calls for example), will "probably be free or only a few cents per minute", he said.
Marland added Swiftel's second phone service will also incorporate a message bank, call diversion and message waiting light.
Customers will be billed for the second phone line as well as their ADSL service via a single bill from Swiftel.
"The biggest problem for ISPs is that they don't know how to bill these services," Marland said.
Swiftel has an interconnect agreement with AAPT for the IP phone service to connect with the PSTN network, and also uses People Telecom's call centre support facilities for all of its customers.
Marland said the ISP's overall plan is to offer customers all communications services (Internet, phone line rental, GSM, CDMA) via one point of contact.
Swiftel will be calling for 50 customers to "crash test" the second phone line system in Australia shortly.