Telecom’s Switched Network Becomes 100 Percent Digital
It was the end of a mechanical era as traffic on Telecom’s last two analogue ‘crossbar’ exchanges at Browns and
Hedgehope in Southland was changed over last night, making Telecom one of the few telecommunications companies in the
world to have a fully digital switched network.
The crossbar exchanges have been replaced with modern cabinets and kilometres of fibre cabling that are essential for
the future development of new broadband services into the area.
The Browns exchange serviced 147 customers who are now connected to the Winton exchange. The 160 customers using the
Hedgehope exchange are now serviced by Invercargill exchange.
Telecom’s Access Planning Manager Colin McCoy said the full range of modern exchange services such as call waiting, call
diversion and faxability are now available to Hedgehope customers through the Invercargill exchange with a slightly
modified selection for those at Browns.
"Rural customers in the area who had longer lines from the existing exchange will notice improved service as the length
of their existing copper lines has been dramatically shortened and connections speeded up as a result," said Mr McCoy.
Even though the exchanges appear to be little more than unremarkable five by ten metre huts in rural Southland, they
have an intrinsic historical value for some. The crossbar switching equipment from Browns will be dismantled and
reinstalled in full working order in the Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch.
Mr McCoy said the exchanges were going to the Post Society – a group of telecommunications enthusiasts who restore and operate telecom equipment from all mechanical ages.
The society will remove the frames containing the crossbar equipment and reconstruct them at Ferrymead.
"The Browns and Hedgehope equipment are classic examples of the last mechanical exchanges before the electronic age,
which is the era we're in now. We're really pleased one will be restored to full working order so visitors to the park
will be able to use them to make calls,” he said.