Crossing borders

PalTel has implemented Nortel soft switches as the first step of a major organisation transformation.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  July 6, 2008

PalTel has implemented Nortel soft switches as the first step of a transformation that will improve its international connectivity and equip the organisation with a next-generation converged network.

Palestine Telecommunication Company (PalTel) is one of a kind. Set up in 1997 to service the needs of Palestine nationals, the government funded telecommunications provider has been striving to improve services and provide more to its customers from the initial stages of its launch.

Information technology has been at the forefront of the company's continuing work to better its service provision.

The Nortel soft switches form the core of the next-generation network. The rest of it should start in late 2008 to early 2009, and we should be on a fully-fledged new network by 2010.

"PalTel deployed a state-of-the-art MPLS (multi protocol label switching) IP network. We are expanding our broadband access footprint by deploying MSANs (multi-service access networks) and DSLAM (digital subscriber line access multiplexer) in order to provide broadband services to our customers.

We are providing more than 1.5Gbytes of internet bandwidth to our customers.

What's more, we have a TDM/frame relay network to serve our corporate accounts," says Mohannad Al-Hijawi, general manager of the company.

The service provider has invested not only in the best of technology to ensure value-provision to its customers but also puts effort into ensuring an efficient IT team internally.

"We have around 35 people in the IT team and they take care of the technology needs across the organisation. We have well-trained engineers and staff as part of this team to install and operate our infrastructure, and we ensure that we give them continuous job training and renew their certifications at regular periods," says Al-Hijawi.

Call of the new

The company, which has grown exponentially since its formation, recently felt the need to provide more inexpensive international call facilities to its customers. It also wanted to meet increasing consumer demand for new and improved communication services in a simple and cost effective manner.

"We wanted to develop and deliver new revenue generating multimedia services as well as maintain the current quality of services.

We wanted to phase out our old TDM switches because they were old technology, they came with a high maintenance cost, and we wanted to launch services to compete with new entrants, which could not have been possible with the TDM switches," says Al-Hijawi.

Additionally, PalTel also wanted to create an international footprint for better hand-off of calls to other telecom providers. A new switching platform was found to be an immediate necessity to enable the company's plan for services and to ensure its future growth.

The hunt for new switches and a developed platform followed the established internal procedure for selecting technology solutions.

"We did due research on several vendors offering switching solutions. We checked out their distribution, their service and support capabilities, and we even got references from other operators. All this was taken into consideration, along with our own product testing and evaluation," says Al-Hijawi.

The provider finally picked Nortel as the vendor of choice for the solution based on the company's reliability, product quality, service assurance and price competitiveness.

"The Nortel solution involved two Communication Server 2000 soft switches, located in London and Ramalah, with six points of presence (PoPs) in the United States and the Middle East," says Al-Hijawi.

Business drivers for the implementation

• To reach world-class standards in terms of technology advancements and as part of the company's strategic plans.

• To diversify product offerings and satisfy customer needs.

• The need for inexpensive international calls.

• The need to satisfy increased demand for new communications services in a simple and cost effective way.

• Developing and delivering new revenue generating multimedia services and maintaining quality of services.

• High maintenance cost of the old TDM switches.

• Old TDM switches were being phased out.

• The launch of new services to compete with new entrants

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