Alcatel and Telecom 'married', says Alcatel head

Alcatel sees the relationship as world leading

Alcatel’s relationship with Telecom New Zealand goes far beyond the usual customer-vendor pitch. The partnership sees Telecom outsource its entire Next Generation Network platform to Alcatel, tipped to replace the PSTN in the next decade. Alcatel is treating the relationship as a prototype for future deals as well.

Newly appointed CEO of Alcatel for Australasia Hilary Mine says the Telecom experience has provided Alcatel with a great lesson.

“New Zealand is a very important case for us worldwide,” Mine says. “We are learning some great lessons for the rest of the world, particularly on the telecommunications carrier side.”

Mine sees the relationship as world leading and quite unique.

“The partnership has taught us so much about how to develop business practices, how to be a better partner to our carrier customers and, at the same time, how to help them reduce their operational costs,” she says.

“Telecom is acknowledged today as one of the most profitable carriers in the world,” she adds, saying that this is because of Telecom’s ability to keep costs down.

The Telecom-Alcatel partnership covers both operational and engineering areas, and has no time frame. Mine describes it as a “marriage”.

“It takes a lot of communication and commitment from both sides. Our relationship keeps getting deeper and richer with time. At this point, we are very much a part of each other’s day-to-day business.”

One of the benefits for Telecom is access to Alcatel’s global set of knowledge and economics, Mine says.

Her plan is to further develop the union with Telecom, and she says she can’t wait to bring triple play (next-generation broadband technologies for voice, video and data services) to New Zealand. Quite when triple play would be made available here is a question for Telecom, says Anna Perrin, corporate communications manager of Alcatel Australia and New Zealand.

According to the Ministry of Economic Development, the minimum requirement for triple play is an approximately 1Mbit/s uplink and 20Mbit/s downlink. Typical broadband in New Zealand runs at 128kbit/s up and 2Mbit/s down, which is not sufficient to provide such advanced services.

“In June, we are rolling broadband out in New Zealand,” Mine says. “And it is a mixed story: New Zealand is very far behind from an OECD perspective, but it is also true that Telecom more than doubled broadband penetration last year. So the right kind of activity is going on.

“But, does penetration need to be a lot higher? Of course is does. Should the [broadband] speed be higher? Absolutely,” she continues.

In Australia, Alcatel is hoping for a shift in the regulatory environment which would allow the company to build a network with its short-term partner, Telstra, providing a 12Mbit/s broadband service to Australians.

Broadband is a very important issue for both New Zealand and Australia, says Mine, and not just from a personal entertainment perspective.

“Areas like e-health and telecommuting; things like trying to keep emissions down over time, and quality of life, these are huge issues for people.”

She says that New Zealand and Australia are no different from the rest of the world – both have a large baby-boomer population, which means big health care costs looming. One way to keep healthcare costs down is to manage them as much as possible through e-health, according to Mine.

Besides continuing to develop the carrier market in New Zealand, Alcatel focuses on vertical markets such as health care, as well as defence and public safety.

Among the company’s other customers in New Zealand are Vodafone, TelstraClear and BCL. Customers in the Asia-Pacific region include Chinese Telecom and the Chinese Government, PT Indonesia, Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT) and Telecom Taiwan.

“If you are going to be a global player in this market long term, you have to be able to compete all around the globe,” says Mine.

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Tags broadbandAlcateltelecomtriple play

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