Gibtelecom decommissions System X after 32 years
Gibtelecom decommissioned its fixed line telephone exchange System X after more than three decades of service to Gibraltar earlier this month.
Minister for Telecommunications, Sir Joe Bossano, officially powered down the system at a small reception on April 13, 32 years after he originally inaugurated the exchange back in 1990 as Chief Minister.
System X will be replaced with the new IMS platform which allows for converged services, greater features, faster deployment and takes up a smaller footprint.
Gibtelecom’s Technology Director, Jansen Reyes, said “The System X exchange has served Gibraltar tremendously well over the past three decades.”
“However, technology has evolved and moved on considerably.”
“There is now a much greater set of features and services which can be provided with equipment taking up a much smaller footprint and a considerable reduction in power consumption, whilst at the same time allowing for much quicker deployment times and greater flexibility.”
System X has a long history, a spokesman for Gibtelecom said.
“Before its installation in 1990, all telephone services were operated by the Gibraltar Government Telephone Department and international circuits were provided by Cable & Wireless, present in Gibraltar since 1870 as the Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company,” the spokesman said.
“Throughout the 1980s there was a shortage of local line capacity on the existing Crossbar exchange, which itself had replaced the relay and Strowger exchanges.”
“During the privatisation talks of the previous telephone department in the late 80s an agreement was reached between the Government of Gibraltar and British Telecom (BT) for the installation of a 14,000 line System X digital exchange.”
“This was commissioned and inaugurated on March 31, 1990, at the City Hall by the then Chief Minister, Sir Joe Bossano, who made the first call to the Managing Director of BT International, Tony Booth.”
“The digital exchange was installed on the top floor of the City Hall where the original 1926 Strowger Automatic Exchange was also homed.”
“This made Gibraltar one of the first small countries in the world to move to a digital telephone service.”
“Cable and Wireless, who provided international circuits installed a satellite earth station which made International Subscriber Dialling possible.”
“The capacity on the exchange was upgraded at various intervals throughout the years, ultimately reaching over 40,000 lines.”
In July 2017 Gibtelecom entered into an agreement with Ericsson, Cisco and Nokia to replace System X with an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) platform, the Gibtelecom spokesman said.
“IMS is an exchange that can serve both fixed line and mobile services,” the spokesman added.
“It also provides customers with new and improved services and features, including fixed-mobile convergence, Hosted-PBX functionality, high-definition (HD) calling using Voice over LTE (VoLTE), instantaneous call setup times on mobile devices, and facilitated the introduction of 5G in 2021.”
“IMS has also added geographical redundancy throughout Gibtelecom’s voice networks, as the various IMS technology components are duplicated across various locations throughout Gibraltar.”
With the IMS migration project is now complete, it has now fully replaced the System X exchange, which has served Gibraltar’s fixed line communications nicely for 32 years, the Gibtelecom spokesman added.
“The migration to the new technology ecosystem, which has been conducted seamlessly and with virtually no interruption to customers, has been a major project with all technical teams involved,” Mr Reyes said.
“Incredibly some of our senior engineers who were originally involved in the commissioning of the previous exchange have been key members of the IMS commissioning, having continuously kept pace with evolving technologies throughout the years.”
Previous technology managers, engineers and Directors who had worked on System X throughout the years were present at a small ‘power down’ reception as well as previous Ministers and Shadow Ministers of Telecommunications during the time the switch was active.