TelEm begins migration to new local/international switch Sunday


POND ISLAND – TelEm Group’s technical division has announced plans to migrate residential and business customers on St. Maarten from the company’s outdated CS2K switch to a brand new Metasphere Softswitch.

The migrations are set to begin Sunday, August 21, and will continue for three weeks until all customers have been transferred to the new equipment.

According to Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Eldert Louisa, the migrations are scheduled to take place during the night and early morning hours in order to have the least impact possible on customers.

“In most cases the transfers will be seamless and the customer will not even know they have been transferred,” assures the CTO. He said technicians and engineers from the Technical Division have already started the migrations by connecting some business clients in the Philipsburg area in the past weeks as a test run.

“Based on these tests, a strategic plan was established to efficiently connect all customers in the TelEm Group network to the new switch, and at the same time clean up customer databases to also make billing processes more efficient and accurate,” continued Louisa.

He said the schedule of migration works on the landline and international circuits is scheduled to end September 4, with a second phase of migration of TelCell’s mobile pre-paid platform from vendor Comverse to vendor Streamwide set to begin September 11.

The CTO also informed that the migration tasks are being carried out by TelEm Group staffers exclusively, with project management assistance from telecommunications consulting firm WIREIE based in Canada.

“We have informed the local telecommunication regulating authority (BTP) of the work we will be doing from Sunday, and now we are taking this opportunity to inform customers and the general public, in the event they experience any interruptions in service during the time of the migration,” said Louisa, noting that while no extended interruptions are anticipated, it is still wise to keep customers forewarned and aware of these developments.

The migration and cutover to the new switch is being carried out because the present CS2K switch has reached what is termed in the industry as “end of life” and needs to be replaced.

It also means the new replacement switch can be configured for more advanced customer features, and also to better accommodate capacity needs that could not be met with the previous switch. There is also the possibility of improving several processes, including billing, once all customers are fully connected.

Louisa said the migrations are exciting for the company, not only because TelEm Group will be decommissioning one switch and replacing it with a brand new one, but also because the end of the operation will almost immediately signal the long-awaited start of migration to TelEm Group’s new LTE/4G mobile network.

“By November, and certainly before Christmas, TelEm Group expects to have in place a superior telecommunication network infrastructure serving landline, international and mobile customers. If you add that to the new fiber optic infrastructure we are developing throughout St. Maarten and the new Internet Service Provider (ISP) core we recently commissioned for internet users, it is clear to see that we will be ending the year on a very high technical note,” said Louisa.

The CTO says TelEm Group is working hard with its employees to ensure the company remains #1 in providing telecommunication services to its customers and for the long-term economic benefit of Country St. Maarten.