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Tariffs can foil user's plans for quick ISDN payback.

An award-winning ISDN installation in Australia is paying for itself--but the payback is coming a bit more slowly than Bunge Australia Pty. Ltd. had hoped.

The company, a subsidiary of Bunge and Born of Brazil, is responsible for operations in Australia and the Pacific Rim. It employs some 3,000 people in Australia, mainly in food and textiles, with operations primarily on the eastern seaboard.

Bunge began working with ISDN two years ago, taking advantage of an attractive primary rate tariff from Telecom Australia.

The company now has 16 primary rate (in Australia that's 2 MB/s) nodes and one basic rate node.

Ramsay Gunasekera, group business systems manager, explains that with the way Bunge does business--operating in Melbourne, Sydney, and a number of regional centers--"We saw a multiplicity of lines running into these locations. It became apparent we needed to streamline.

"We were also having problems bringing in sites following a takeover or acquisitions. We hdd to move faster. We investigated satellite and ISDN. We opted for ISDN because of its numerous benefits which we believed we could access through General DataComm's multiplexer."

Going in, Bunge figured what it saved with ISDN would pay off the hardware investment in about a year and a half. The payoff is coming, but not as soon as planned, says John Kerr, communications consultant for Bunge in Melbourne.

Tariff up 15%

"Since the network was designed, Telecom Australia's tariff has increased roughly 15%," says Kerr. He adds that the cost of long-distance calls through the public switched network also dropped 3% since Bunge projected its cost comparison.

"Also, we have added a considerable amount of hardware into the network, which has increased its capital cost. For these reasons we are looking at a longer payback period."

The network has run voice at 16 kb/s and data at 64, which Gunasekera says means a lot of flexibility.

"We are able to meet peak load quite efficiently. We can reconfigure voice lines as data lines and vice versa as required. It's easily upgradable because GDC has continued to support open systems interfaces."

Despite the tariffing issues, Bunge is satisfied ISDN was the right strategy.

"We're very happy," says Kerr. "In fact, we would like to extend the network. There is still one division of the company that is not covered, and we may expand into that division of the company in the next 6 to 12 months. That potentially will increased it 30%."

Next move for Bunge's network is installation of low bit rate voice cards from General DataComm that will allow the company to use 9.6kb/s voice internally.

"The cards will allow us to squeeze five voice circuits onto each ISDN B channel, as opposed to three atthe moment," Kerr says. "We'll get more cost-effective PABX traffic, city to city. The cards also support fax traffic."

Plans for videoconferencing

Bunge plans to use the ISDN for video-conferencing within the next 12 months. It is holding back only because of the cost of video codecs.

Bunge has been a trailblazer in use of Australian ISDN. It won the Australian Information Technology Award for 1990, and now other companies, such as auto companies and a large retail store chain, are following its lead.

"A lot of these companies might run a 2 Mb/s link from capital city to capital city and only utilize half of it for their PABX channels," he says. "They find ISDN is much more cost-effective."

Kerr says that Bunge has had excellent teamwork with its vendor and telco but has had to overcome some hardware limitations.

Because the products are tailored for a world market, Kerr says, "we have not been able to use some of the functionality of the Australian ISDN network. For instance, until recently we weren't able to use switched calls or call number indication. Some of these are not important to Bunge, I'd have to stress that."

New software installed this year has enabled the company to take full advantage of ISDN services.

Kerr notes that partnering with the service provider was vital to the success of Bunge's ISDN installation.

"When we first jumped in, it was very much a learning procedure for Telecom. We had a lot of trouble with network problems in the early days. Today we have very few. The technical people within Telecom now appreciate the importance of our network to the company. Our company can't withstand great downtimes at all."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:ISDN Forum; Integrated Services Digital Networks in Australia
Author:Tanzillo, Kevin
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Column
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:Outsourcing: Is it a boon or boondoggle?
Next Article:Food for thought: how Arizona grocer upgraded its network.

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