You are on page 1of 10

University of Tasmania Communications Report - 1991 CAUSE INFORMATION RESOURCES LIBRARY The attached document is provided through the

CAUSE Information Resources Library. As part of the CAUSE Information Resources Program, the Library provides CAUSE members access to a collection of information related to the development, use, management, and evaluation of information resources- technology, services, and information- in higher education. Most of the documents have not been formally published and thus are not in general distribution. Statements of fact or opinion in the attached document are made on the responsibility of the author(s) alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the CAUSE Board of Directors, officers, staff, or membership. This document was contributed by the named organization to the CAUSE Information Resources Library. It is the intellectual property of the author(s). Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage, that the title and organization that submitted the document appear, and that notice is given that this document was obtained from the CAUSE Information Resources Library. To copy or disseminate otherwise, or to republish in any form, requires written permission from the contributing organization. For further information: CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301; 303449-4430; e-mail To order a hard copy of this document contact CAUSE or send e-mail to University of Tasmania Communications Report - 1991 1 The following paper is available by anonymous ftp to: /doc/ directory Text only format: Coms.Rpt.1991.text Macintosh MS/Word: Coms.Rpt.1991.Word3.cpt.hqx (Compact Pro, Binhex format) Internet email: COPYRIGHT (c) 1992 by Ray Jones, all rights

reserved. this text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the author.

University of Tasmania Communications Report - 1991 This report summarises major telecommunications events and changes affecting the University of Tasmania during 1991. Contents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Purpose of Communications National Telecommunications Changes Network Extent Telephone Network Data Network Inter-campus links AARNet Facsimile Equipment Dial-in Modems Teleconferencing International Standards Directories Future Directions

1 Purpose of Communications The communications network exists to provide electronic communications between all parts of the University, and with external destinations relevant to the University's teaching, research or administrative tasks. Having regard to cost and need, these services should be available with equal ease, speed and reliability on all campuses. Accurate, timely and easy to use directory services are an essential adjunct to an efficient communications network. Without good directories people cannot use the communications network efficiently.

2 National Telecommunications Changes 2.1 Competition and Regulation Major changes in Australian telecommunications were initiated some years ago as Government policy aimed at removing Telecom's monopoly of telecommunications in Australia. These changes continued in 1991 and the Telecommunications Act 1991 legislated Telecom's transition from its former position of both regulator and monopoly supplier into a competing supplier subject to outside regulation. Austel has been established to regulate the telecommunications industry and a second carrier (Optus Communications Pty Ltd, incorporating Aussat) will compete with Telecom from 1992. Telecom will merge with OTC to become the Australian and Overseas Telecomunications Corporation Limited (AOTC) on 1 February 1992. Optus is expected to concentrate on the Sydney-Melbourne market initially and should have little direct impact in Tasmania during

1992. In the longer term (five years) Optus is committed to establishing a national telecommunications infra-structure offering services in competition with Telecom. The most likely result for this University when Optus begins operating in Tasmania will be a choice of tariffs for telephone calls. This re-regulation of national telecommunications began some years ago and has introduced significant changes such as allowing customers to select PABX suppliers/maintainers and to assume responsibility for their own distribution wiring and handsets. Other changes have made it feasible for telecommunications users, such as this University, to establish private networks providing communications between separate sites at lower costs than would be possible using the Telecom dialled network. Changes in regulations and tariffs have been occurring in a steady stream requiring some effort to absorb and implement. 2.2 National Number Change Austel intends to re-organise all Australian telephone numbers to overcome a shortage of numbers in Sydney and Melbourne. The most likely outcome is that Tasmania's existing (002), (003) and (004) STD access codes will be replaced by the STD access code of (03) with 6 as the first digit in a new eight digit number for each telephone; i.e. normal Telecom telephone numbers will be eight digits long. The change will not take place for a few years and is not expected to affect the University internal extension numbering scheme which should remain four digits. 2.3 Operating standards Replacing Telecom as regulator of the telecommunications industry and provider of most services left a vacuum in operating standards. Austel (in conjunction with Standards Australia) has issued a draft recommended operating standard for private telecommunications networks which is being observed within the University of Tasmania. 2.4 Equipment approval Changes in regulations governing telecommunications have not removed the necessity to ensure that all equipment attached to the telephone network has been approved by Austel. The temptation to buy a cheap modem or telephone handset overseas should be tempered by the knowledge that equipment designed for Japan, Europe or America may not work in Australia; as well, current regulations include heavy fines for attaching unauthorised equipment to the telephone network.

3 Network Extent At the end of 1991 the University of Tasmania comprised the four Hobart campuses (Sandy Bay, Clinical School, Centre for the Arts at Hunter Street and the Conservatorium of Music on Mount Nelson), the Launceston campus and the study centres in Burnie and Devonport.

4 Telephone Network 4.1 PABXs Each Hobart campus and the Launceston campus has its own PABX with lines to and from the public telephone network operated by Telecom. University PABXs

are also inter-connected by tie-lines allowing telephone calls to be made between campuses without incurring the usage charges due for calls made via the Telecom network. Devonport and Burnie study centres are not yet connected by tie-lines. 4.2 Telephone Use Telephone use continued to increase during 1991; 1,200 telephone extensions on the Sandy Bay, Clinical School and Centre for the Arts campuses recorded 1.5 million metered units (metered units are charged by Telecom against extensions when calls are made to the public telephone network - each local call accumulates one metered unit). This is a ten per cent increase in metered units recorded for 1990. 4.3 Numbering scheme A single extension numbering scheme covering all University campuses was implemented during 1991. Common numbering allows extensions on Universityowned PABXs to call other University extensions using a four-digit number and avoids the use of clumsy tie-line access codes. 4.4 Traffic analysis Traffic analysis is the process of measuring demand for PABX lines and applying statistical theory to determine the probability of a line being available for a caller at the busiest time of the day. This probability of obtaining a line (known as the grade of service) is the accepted measure of telephone network performance - the usual grade of service is 0.01, i.e. a caller has a 99% probability of obtaining a line from the PABX. Determining the busiest time of day for the telephone network is a preliminary to calculating grade of service. Demand on the Sandy Bay PABX has been monitored since October 1991 using locally developed software and 10.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. has been identified as the busy hour. Results for the last quarter of the year show that the Sandy Bay network meets the 0.01 grade of service recommended by Austel for private networks with respect to lines to and from the Telecom network and for most tielines. Growth in demand on the Hobart-Launceston tie-line route appeared to level off in November 1991 but rose again in December. Even at the busiest period just before Christmas, capacity on this line is more than adequate for the demand. The tie-line route to the Clinical School was below the standard until additional lines were installed on 3 January 1992.

Using traffic figures a 'mean busy day' has been described in terms of demand on the telephone network. This model contains interesting items such as the average length of an outgoing call from Sandy Bay PABX extensions to the Telecom network (2 minutes 8 seconds) with 70% of calls being less than three minutes or that the three per cent of calls dialled to international destinations incur fifteen per cent of use charges. Such information has more than curiosity value; it indicates the general health of the network and is an essential tool when assessing the value to the University of potential new equipment or services. Availability of this model also permits the least inconvenient time to be selected for maintenance work and indicates when additional facilities may be needed. Ability to measure demand on tie-lines connected to the Sandy Bay PABX is an important management tool because the Sandy Bay PABX functions as the central transit switch for the telephone tie-line network.

4.5 Sandy Bay Campus Distribution Much of the underground telephone wiring on the Sandy Bay campus is old and original spare capacity has been used up. In the past eighteen months underground wiring to some buildings has been augmented to meet the demand for additional telephone services (including facsimile extensions). Additional cabling has been installed to Life Sciences, Law, Administration, Union Building and Hytten Hall. The Medical Sciences Building will gain additional capacity as part of the Foresty building telephone installation early in 1992. Planning is in progress for additional cabling to other buildings. 5. Data Network 5.1 Fibre Optic Backbone The Sandy Bay campus fibre optic backbone began operating in January 1991. Optical time domain reflector testing of the installed fibre optic cable in June 1991 confirmed that light loss in the fibre pairs in use was quite acceptable. The Launceston campus fibre-optic network is expected to be operating before the beginning of the 1992 academic year. These optical fibre cables provide a data backbone between main buildings on both campuses; each building has at least one node for connecting departmental or school data networks. 5.2 Fault Detection & Isolation The Isoview network management package used at Sandy Bay and specified for the Launceston network has proven to be an excellent tool for identifying faulty equipment within the campus data network. Major network faults are detected by an hourly test of main telecommunications links carried out seven days a week by a computer in the Computer Centre. Faults on any line trigger a warning message to a pager carried by a member of the Communications Unit who responds accordingly. The pager can also be used by AARNet management staff in Canberra to alert this University to major problems elsewhere in the AARNet network. This procedure works well and has allowed rectification of significant problems before network users were affected. 5.3 Electronic Mail Names An electronic-mail naming scheme covering staff at all campuses, schools and departments was implemented during 1991. This naming scheme provides a formal e-mail address independent of computing equipment names and can be used on business cards and other business stationery in the knowledge that the formal e-mail name will not change when computer equipment is upgraded or different e-mail packages used. Formal names have also been assigned to some departmental positions (such as Secretary) to facilitate e-mail to departments. 5.4 Traffic Measurement Preliminary work has begun on measuring the volume of traffic on the data network with the aim of understanding network use in broad terms giving warning of potential congestion and indicating desirable equipment alterations. First priority is to measure the data demand on the Megalink between Sandy Bay and Launceston then to extend the measurement to cover all other switched circuits and Ethernet nodes. 5.5 Network Performance

The data network is growing quickly with several departments having significant local networks attached to the campus backbone. Network complexity has reached the stage where changes must be made only after careful attention to desired and undesired consequences. In an Ethernet network a fault or unwise change on any LAN attached to the backbone can adversely affect every other LAN (high-speed links between campuses allows the consequences of a mistake or fault on one departmental network to spread rapidly between campuses). A review of network reliability and performance is in progress. 6 Inter-campus links 6.1 Hobart - Launceston The Megalink carrying telephone and data traffic between Launceston and Hobart was put into service on 26 September 1991 for telephone traffic and a few days later for regular data use. This Megalink carries multiple telephone channels and a single 1.544 megabits per second data channel linking the Sandy Bay and Launceston data backbones. The number of protocols used in the Megalink data channel has been minimised to ensure most efficient use of the service and to facilitate fault diagnosis. The Ericsson/Network Equipment Technology IDNX multiplexers at Sandy Bay and Launceston monitor performance of multiplexers and Megalink. Except for 5 December, when software changes to allow full FMS functionality over the Megalink were incorporated, the Megalink has worked well. Claims that the Megalink was slow or had failed have been traced to convoluted paths through multiple computing equipment within user departments or to failures of data or telephone equipment in use. However, there is some concern at the reliability of the HEC supply to the Launceston campus. The Hobart termination of the Megalink is on the Sandy Bay campus. Telephone and data traffic between Launceston and the other Hobart campuses (i.e. Conservatorium of Music, Centre for the Arts and the Clinical School) is routed via the Sandy Bay campus. Each of these other campuses is connected to Sandy Bay via telephone tie-lines and data connections of varying capacity. Telephone tie-lines were upgraded during 1991 and early 1992 to comply with Austel recommendations for private networks. Common telephone extension numbering and electronic-mail naming schemes ensure that all campuses are part of single telephone and data networks. 6.2 Sandy Bay - Clinical School The Clinical School was connected with the Sandy Bay campus network via a Telecom digital metropolitan service in July 1991 making the Clinical School network electronically part of the Sandy Bay campus network. Telephone tie-lines between Sandy Bay and the Clinical School were found to be inadequate; additional lines were put into service early in January 1992

6.3 Sandy Bay - Centre for the Arts The Centre for the Arts is connected with the Sandy Bay campus via a lowspeed Telecom service which provides limited data connectivity to the Sandy Bay network. Plans are in hand to upgrade this link early in 1992. Telephone tie-lines between the Centre for the Arts and Sandy Bay are sufficient for the demand.

6.4 Sandy Bay - Conservatorium of Music The Conservatorium of Music at Mount Nelson has a telephone tie-line to the Sandy Bay PABX for access to the University telephone network. A dial-up modem provided data access in 1991; upgrading of this service with a dedicated line allowing faster access began at the end of 1991. 6.5 Study Centres The Devonport and Burnie Study Centres do not have fixed services (i.e. tie-lines) connecting them with the rest of the University. Options for telephone and data services to both study centres are being investigated 7 AARNet 7.1 Scope of AARNet The Australian Academic Research Network (AARNet) was established by Australian universities and the CSIRO to facilitate their operation and continues to grow in importance for research, teaching and administration. Networked computer users have electronic access via AARNet to all other Australian universities and many CSIRO divisions as well as to a growing number of affiliate members in Australia. AARNet also provides access to a large number of international academic and research institutions. 7.2 National Link Reliability The AARNet Tasmanian hub at the Sandy Bay campus is connected via a Telecom digital service to the AARNet national hub at the University of Melbourne. For most of 1991 this national link operated satisfactorily but in early December began to fail for a few seconds at a time interrupting any sessions in progress and requiring users to log-on again. Telecom traced the fault to the section between Sandy Bay and central Hobart. This problem lasted for some weeks but has now been resolved. 7.3 Membership The University of Tasmania and the CSIRO Marine Laboratories at Castray Esplanade are the only full AARNet members in Tasmania. Other CSIRO divisions in Tasmania are not yet connected. 7.4 Antarctic Division The Antarctic Division headquarters at Kingston was connected to AARNet in November 1991 as an AARNet development project proposed by this University. This link to the Antarctic Division's headquarters can be extended to include research stations in the Antarctic after data services between Australia and the Antarctic are enhanced. 7.5 State Government Connections Elizabeth Matriculation College is connected to AARNet for mail and news. Several state government agencies have expressed interest in affiliate membership of AARNet but none has formally applied. 8 Facsimile Equipment 8.1 Numbers The number of University facsimile machines continues to increase and more than 70 were in use at the end of 1991. 8.2 Traffic Facsimile messages have become a significant proportion of University telecommunications traffic and four per cent of traffic (394 calls) through the Sandy Bay PABX on the 1991 mean busy day is facsimile traffic.

Facsimile messages are a high proportion of international telephone traffic to and from Sandy Bay. 8.3 Plain Paper Facsimiles Departments and schools considering facsimile purchase may wish to consider a plain paper facsimile machine which provides photocopier quality output on normal paper. While more expensive than the more usual thermal paper facsimiles (approx $3,000), a plain-paper facsimile also acts as a photocopier, uses lower price paper, and delivers a copy which does not fade with time or in sunlight in the way copies on thermal paper fade in time. 9 Dial-in Modems 9.1 Access via dial-in modems to the University data network is available at Launceston and Hobart. Modem access is an important facility allowing wider access by staff and students to the data network; it is relevant that the Hobart modem pool is in heaviest demand between 8.00 p.m. and midnight. 9.2 Hobart Modem Pool Demand on the Hobart modem pool is heavy and the lines were often fully occupied for hours at a time towards the end of the 1991 academic year. An additional modem pool with access controlled by user identity and password is being established. 9.3 9600 bps Modems Higher speed (9600 bits per second - bps) modems have been too expensive to be widely used in the past and existing modem pools have not catered for that bandwidth. As the prices of these technically desirable modems reduces they are expected to become more widespread and a 9600 bps modem pool will be established at Hobart

10 Teleconferencing Teleconferencing includes all forms of telecommunications conferencing. Two common forms are telephone (voice) conferencing and video-conferencing. 10.1 Telephone Conferencing Telephone conferencing is growing in use within the University. The most common form uses a handset with inbuilt loudspeaker and microphone. This is adequate when two or three people are using the handset but can be hard to use for larger groups when room reverberations and related audio problems can cause difficulties. Most purpose-built telephone conferencing equipment providing better quality audio is expensive (more than $10,000) but one reasonably priced unit is available from NEC. This unit has been tried within the Library with good results. An alternative form of telephone conferencing takes the form of several participants each in their own office sharing a common conversation using standard telephone extension. This is a standard PABX feature for most campuses and can be arranged through Telecom for conference calls with telephones outside the University network. 10.2 Video-Conferencing Video-conferencing is the use of television cameras and monitors to allow participants in a video-conference to see and hear speakers at the other

end of the video-conference link. Provision of video-conferencing facilities between the Hobart and Launceston campuses is being investigated. 11 International Standards Access to international telecommunications standards is often useful in dealing with suppliers and preparing specifications. Copies of some relevant standards agreed to by the International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee (CCITT) and printed in the Blue Book series. Recommendations G.700-G.772, H, J, K and L Series, X.400-X.420, X.500-X5.20 are held in the Sandy Bay Computing Centre and are available for reference. 12 Directories 12.1 A single communications directory including telephone and electronicmail addresses has been prepared for the amalgamated University. Printed copies are expected to be available early in the 1992 academic year. Directory lay-out has retained the major departmental and alphabetic sections but changes have been made to facilitate finding entries. 12.2 Electronic directory The amalgamated communications directory is already available in electronic form. Copies of the directory in text file format are on CC Appleshare (now in CC Maclab Zone CC Info) for networked Macintosh users and on tasman for file transfer by all networked computer users. Electronic directories can be copied into individual computers and then printed or loaded into special purpose applications such as 'Address Book'. These electronic versions of the directory are amended on the first working day of each month and will always be the most up-to-date telecommunications directory available for the University. 12.3 Directory Development The electronic directory in use at this University successfully provides a telephone and e-mail directory which is more up-to-date than a printed directory can ever be but it barely touches the potential of electronic directories. Interest has been expressed around the world in directories and the CCITT has issued the X.500 recommendation for a distributed data base intended to allow users to find telephone numbers and e-mail names of people anywhere in the world by using key-word search techniques on a single data base which can be amended daily by each institution. Considerable development is needed before this goal is achieved and many more Australian universities will have to make their communications directories available for the idea to be effective. As well, applications which are fast, reliable and easy to use are needed to allow people to use this directory. Applications on trial within the University for this purpose (Eudora - Ph and PS IWP) are the best available but are not fast, easy to use, nor reliable enough to be considered for routine use.

13 Future Directions 13.1 Telephones Adapting the University communications network to make best use of external changes as Optus becomes a competitor to AOTC (formerly Telecom) is the major task for 1992. More effective use of tie-lines to reduce recurring costs is being investigated. Lines to the CSIRO Marine Laboratories and to the State

Public Service in Hobart and Launceston will be installed during 1992. More than 150 calls are made each day from the Sandy Bay PABX to Public Service telephone numbers in Hobart so there is considerable potential for financial saving by using fixed cost tie-lines. PABX programming to direct outgoing telephone calls by the cheapest route regardless of the numbers dialled will probably be implemented. Upgrading of wiring between buildings on the Sandy Bay campus will continue and the capacity of existing wiring on the Launceston campus will be investigated and, if necessary, improved. 13.2 Data Communications As information is gathered on data network performance, and the busiest sections are identified, steps will be taken to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible. These measures may involve partitioning the network in some way to control data flow. The structure of the data network is expected to continue changing to comprise a fibre-optic backbone joining building networks serving the particular needs of departments and schools.

Ray Jones Communications Manager 30 January 1992