The Leading Trends In IP Telephony
BY GREG GALITZINE
As far as prognostications go, letï¿½s face it, no one can really predict
the future. But given some experience with a particular subject, and a fair
measure of expertise, it should be possible to extrapolate some short-term
tendencies about a given topic. So it is with Internet telephony. Pundits
and experts have been predicting that Internet telephony was going to
revolutionize the traditional telecommunications industry for years. Many
so-called specialists have been calling for the ï¿½big bangï¿½ announcement,
the killer app, the end-all event, in vain. Funny thing is, IP telephony has
been growing all along, and 2002 will see more deployments and more
announcements of companies undertaking trials of the technology than ever
I believe in 2002, IP telephony will continue to see tremendous activity
and make incredible gains in the enterprise space. Until the service
providers work their way through all that excess inventory, and are once
again ready to research new technology, you can rest assured that
next-generation telephony will be busy gaining traction in the enterprise
market. And if the broadband lobbyists have their way in Washington, which
is looking more and more likely, you can just imagine all that dark fiber
lying within reach of many small and medium businesses will light up like a
childï¿½s face on Christmas morning. And the United States will have won a
truckload of medals at the Winter Olympics by the time you read this.
But rather than regale you with my ever-changing, never-ending list of
what awaits us, Iï¿½ve decided to let several vendors give their opinions
regarding what lies ahead. Just to be perfectly clear, many of these
companies see their own area of expertise as the ï¿½next great hopeï¿½ for
next-generation telecom. Understandable. So take the ï¿½proprietaryï¿½
nature of some of these responses with a grain of salt. Rather you should
peel back the onion just a bit, and try to look at ï¿½the big pictureï¿½ of
all the responses to see what the future has in store for our industry.
ï¿½ Greg Galitzine
The most significant trend in IP telephony may, at long last, be its
adoption! Several data points have emerged indicating that IP telephony is
getting traction, both in the enterprise and with service providers. One
such data point is the majority of large service providers who are planning
(and yes, spending capital dollars) for deployment of managed VoIP services
in the first half of 2002. Another data point is Microsoft, which has given
VoIP a significant shot in the arm with the telephony feature rich Windows
Service providers have acknowledged that to capitalize on their
investment in IP networks, new IP-based services will need to be offered and
VoIP is on the top of the list. However, service providers would be wise to
realize that real-time communication is not just another data application
and the control and management of these services will be a significant
Service providers should give careful consideration to the issues of
management, control, and security, as they are key to the quality and
profitability of new VoIP services.
Aravoxï¿½s VoIP network services platform provides network services, such
as access control, dynamic NAT (bi-directional) and QoS to specifically
address the management and control of real-time IP communication.
ï¿½ Craig Warren, Co-founder, Aravox Technologies
An ongoing trend in the IP telephony industry that is certain to expand
in 2002 is the adoption of enhanced voice services by wireless consumers. As
cellular telephones are now commonplace and carriers are saturating the
market with competitive packages, service providers are being pressed to
deliver fresh and contemporary options that will enable them to retain and
even increase subscriber base. These new services include the implementation
of advanced voice services with hands-free options such as voice-activated
dialing and voice portals, as well as instant messaging and conferencing.
These functions directly address the expected real-time performance and
services that enable customers to gather information (news, stocks, weather,
To make these wireless options possible, service providers will more
readily accept media servers within their networks, enabling them to manage
and deliver concurrent media sessions from multiple network applications.
Advanced media servers provide this in any network, PSTN, wireless, and IP.
Upon the widespread integration of media servers, service providers will be
able to offer numerous advanced services that may become mainstream
offerings in future customer wireless communications packages. These
advanced services include: Text-to-speech abilities, automated speech
recognition, interactive voice response, and seamless voice and multi-modal
support, which will increase e- and v-commerce interaction.
ï¿½ Yogendra Jain, Chairman and CTO/Founder of ThinkEngine Networks
Internet telephony, like any technology, must answer the demands of
todayï¿½s enterprise ï¿½ the ability to provide secure worldwide information
access and reliable anywhere, anytime communications. As enterprises
virtualize, global, interconnected communications becomes the cornerstone of
business success. Itï¿½s critical for Internet telephony to ensure varied
access across multiple modes and media ï¿½ all the time and everywhere ï¿½
for collaborative, converged communications.
VoIP brought the concept of convergence to the enterprise. By eliminating
the physical distinction between voice and data, businesses have been able
to improve relationships with customers, partners, and employees with
seamless communications through unified communications, interactive call
centers, and multichannel CRM. Of course, VoIP has only created a launching
pad for other standards and technologies that provide infinite possibilities
to take convergence to greater levels.
Avaya believes Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) is an IP technology with
the potential to create revolutionary integrated communication services,
providing lower cost of ownership and rapid application development. Users
can easily redirect calls, instant message and conduct collaborative work
sessions at the touch of a button. SIP is quickly gaining traction because
it derives the most value from the converged network ï¿½ providing a
consistent, multimedia/multimode experience for the user ï¿½ in order to
offer true converged communications.
ï¿½ Micky Tsui Vice President, converged enterprise solutions, Avaya.
One of the up and coming solutions and somewhat neglected areas of the
VoIP arena has been the Local Access Solution for the SoHo market.
Enterprise solutions can be quite costly to say the least and many small to
mid-size businesses have been bypassed, as industry leaders continue to
pursue the Fortune 500 type clientele with solutions that interface with
Digital PBX systems, as opposed to basic analog and black phone systems.
D-Link out of Irvine, CA has created a two-port and four-port VoIP
Station Gateway that links traditional telephony networks to IP networks
with conventional telephony devices. The gateway is available with H.323,
MGCP, and-soon-to-follow SIP stack. What makes it special is a suggested
retail that is expected to see a $99 price point later this year.
The Local Access solution using D-Link has been commercially deployed by
Aventura Networks, which acts as the ASP and offers service providers a ï¿½Telco-In-A-Box.ï¿½
The gateway operates across most broadband environments and has had
surprising initial success with satellite broadband such as Direcway,
offered by Hughes.
Two-way satellite broadband has inherent latency issues, but with some
adjustments to the jitter buffers on gateway devices, the future is bright.
Achieving the ability to transmit by inexpensive satellite communications
will catapult the IP telephony market, as the impediment of connectivity is
ï¿½ Jack Cabassso, Aventura Networks
AG Communication Systems
In 2002 expect to see exciting news from the RBOCs, who will get behind
one (or a small number of) IP telephony systems, especially IP Centrex.
Since there are so many conflicting systems, a major RBOC announcement will
serve to quell the proliferation of different, incompatible VoIP ï¿½islandsï¿½
that to date has really impeded deployment. This will occur not only because
of the influence that RBOCs have, but also because of the RBOCsï¿½ historic
insistence on reliability, robustness, and feature-richness. Any announced
services will likely be of a quality that makes them legitimate offers for
broad enterprise deployment.
Also, the hype that surrounds SIP will dissolve into a more reasoned,
rational understanding of its potential. SIP will be viewed as a tool that
has uses within a multi-protocol world, but will no longer be viewed as the
panacea it was promoted to be over the past year or two. Applications in
which SIP would prove useful might be instant messaging or collaboration. On
the other hand, SIP is likely to get rebuffed in the areas of unified
messaging or e-mail.
ï¿½ Mark Boundy, Manager, iMerge Product Marketing AG Communication
One of leading trends that Brooktrout is addressing in the IP telephony
industry is the need to measure and manage voice quality, or QoS, on packet
networks. Solving QoS is a significant hurdle to converting mainstream
carrier networks to voice over packet. Traditional bandwidth-management
approaches only address the problem indirectly, measuring and managing
surrogates for voice quality at the macro network level. Very few VoIP
products today have a way of dynamically monitoring QoS, let alone
intelligently adapting to changing real-world QoS conditions. To date,
service providers offering VoIP services have been forced to invest in
costly proprietary, stand-alone equipment to ensure network performance or
to over-provision their networks, also at great cost, in order to achieve
reliable voice quality. Recent technology advances have made possible a
comprehensive framework for addressing QoS in voice-over-packet services. To
solve the problem more directly, Brooktrout has partnered with Telchemy,
Inc., to integrate new standards-based QoS monitoring, called VQmon, on our
TR2020 VoIP gateway platform, VQmon measures and reports actual
human-perceived voice quality on every call, without disrupting other
network functions. With this capability, gateway developers will be able to
support meaningful Service Level Agreements (SLAs), a key competitive
differentiation in for the downstream service provider market.
ï¿½ Josh Adelson, Director of Product Marketing for the New Public
Networks Group, Brooktrout, Inc.
Gradual migration ï¿½ The changing economy forced the telecommunications
industry to focus on its core business again. At the same time, the
overwhelming strategy of service providers is to steadily migrate to IP,
while leveraging existing infrastructure and maintaining the carrier class
reliability and quality of service their customers have come to expect.
Reliability ï¿½ Service providers, especially the ILECs, feel they have
more ï¿½timeï¿½ to wait on IP telephony to become more reliable,
particularly softswitching technology, now that the failing economy has
wiped out much of the competition by CLECs. As a result, they expect vendors
to provide products that meet or exceed the reliability provided by their
Standards ï¿½ Service providers want the option to choose best of breed
technology from a variety of vendors. Multi-vendor networks are only
deployable in a standards based environment, so standards and
interoperability testing will be a key trend in 2002.
End-to-end IP ï¿½ The first wave of VoIP deployments flourished in the
service providerï¿½s core networks and enterprise environments. Service
providers are now looking to connect those two islands over ï¿½last-mileï¿½
broadband connections. This gives rise to a number of issues (such as
quality of service, bandwidth utilization, provisioning, lawful
interception, and security), which the industry, including OpenVoB will be
addressing during 2002.
ï¿½ OpenVoB Board of Directors
- IP PBXs will take 50 percent of the PBX market by 2005.
If you have ever moved into a new office and had to wire all the offices
and cubes with phone lines, you know that the cost of the wiring far exceeds
the cost of the phone gear thatï¿½s connected to it. So even if IP PBXs and
handsets are never any cheaper than traditional TDM equipment, eliminating
the extra wiring has a huge cost savings. You simply run Ethernet around
your office and use it for phone and data. However, IP PBXs will eventually
be cheaper, too, especially when you can call your local phone company and
get your telephone calls trunked in as IP calls, thereby saving the PBX from
having to convert TDM to IP.
- International telephone calls will continue to move to IP, especially
in the developing world.
Companies like iBasis and ITXC have shown that, with clever network
management, the public Internet with no guaranteed QoS, can provide carrier
grade phone service to the far ends of the earth. Itï¿½s not that IP
transport is inherently less expensive than other formats such as ATM, but
itï¿½s more an issue of capacity and availability. If you need additional
capacity in most countries outside of Europe and North America, you may have
a very long wait ï¿½ sometimes years ï¿½ before new international phone
lines are laid. On the other hand, excess IP bandwidth is available in most
places in the world today and is constantly being upgraded, so IP carriers
can bring up new circuits more quickly than the traditional international
carriers. Nearly every major carrier today, including the tier one carriers,
handles a portion of their traffic over the Internet. Because IP pipes have
many other uses other than voice, and because voice carriers seem to be able
to coax carrier quality voice from non-QoS IP networks, whatï¿½s the point
in laying a lot more old-fashioned international phone lines?
- Conferencing and Collabortion will take the place of face-to-face
One of the only businesses that appears to have benefited from the Sept.
11 attack is conferencing. Audio conferencing, Web conferencing, and video
conferencing are all up substantially and show no signs of backsliding. The
social acceptability of the ï¿½virtual meetingï¿½ seems to be increasing.
This benefits users greatly as many face-to-face meetings donï¿½t really
need to be face-to-face and in general they chew up a lot of time and travel
and are very costly compared with a virtual meeting. The technology for
virtual meetings is improving rapidly and companies like Sonexis are coming
out with low cost appliances that are simple to install and give any company
the ability to host virtual meetings at any time without paying a service
ï¿½ David Friend, Chairman & CEO, sonexis
The common theme throughout these trends is the continued ï¿½ and
accelerated ï¿½ proliferation of open, modular building blocks for packet
voice communications networks. Benefits to the industry go beyond lower cost
infrastructure. We will all benefit from a richer, more diverse ecosystem of
companies providing voice-over-IP products and services.
Specialized voice over packet (VoP) silicon delivers significantly higher
performance and lower per-channel power consumption than the general-purpose
DSPs commonly used in todayï¿½s systems. For example, the Intel IXS1000 can
achieve channel density an order of magnitude greater than a general-purpose
DSP. Two factors account for this improved performance. First, these are
true ï¿½systems on a chip.ï¿½ Control processing, memory, high-speed bus,
and multiple DSP cores are all implemented on a single chip. Traditionally,
these functions have been implemented using discrete components. Second, the
DSP cores are optimized for packet processing.
General-purpose network processors simplify system design and allow
developers to more easily implement new standards, features, and services:
- General-purpose, programmable network processors such as the Intel
IXP1200 will be a key component of VoIP system designs. By offloading
host processors and DSPs from control- and memory-intensive tasks such
as packetization, jitter buffering, and packet loss recovery, network
processors enable greater channel density and simplified design. They
also offer significant advantages in terms of flexibility: These chips
are highly programmable, making it easier and more cost-effective to
implement new standards, features, and services compared with ASICs or
- The price/performance of general-purpose computing platforms continues
to dramatically improve (Mooreï¿½s Law). This phenomenon, combined with
media processing software optimized to run on these platforms, will
significantly lower costs and deployment barriers for VoP applications.
It is now possible to develop low- and mid-density media processing
solutions without the use of expensive DSP boards. Lab tests have shown that
a single 1 GHz Pentium III processor can handle between 30 and 60 ports of
unified messaging. At Intel, we are optimizing the same software features
services that run on our DSP boards on host processors such as Pentium and,
in the future, Itanium. At the same time, we are preserving the programming
interfaces so the thousands of applications that current run on our boards
will be able to run on ï¿½boardlessï¿½ platforms. The result is reduced
system cost and simplified development and deployment.
Two developments in the standards arena are also worth mentioning:
- The evolution of the PICMG standards, from 2.16 to 2.19 and beyond,
will provide a standards-based hardware and software infrastructure that
supports the density, reliability, and management requirements of
carrier networks. Thus, high-end solutions based on open building blocks
will increasingly replace closed, proprietary, more expensive systems.
- The availability of SIP in the Microsoft XP operating system will
dramatically increase the number of SIP-enabled endpoints. This will
lower entry barriers to deploying SIP applications. In parallel, it will
create additional momentum behind the SIP protocol.
ï¿½ Peter Gavalakis, Marketing Manager, public network products,
Telecommunications & Embedded Group, Intel Corporation
In 2002 we continue to see accelerated deployment of VoIP, across both
enterprise and consumer markets. For so-called next-generation service
providers, all of whom have heavily invested in their IP backbone
infrastructure, packetized voice is simply a more efficient use of that
infrastructure than switched circuits. With the high-speed backbones such
providers have deployed, they continue to have excess capacity. For these
carriers, and their incumbent competitors, the issue is no longer hardware
ï¿½ they have enough of that ï¿½ but software, from softswitches to advanced
The challenge is to offer the same assuring level and range of services
and functionality that customers expect from their circuit switched
networks. Cost advantages are still a factor, especially in international
markets, where the tariff savings are significant. However, over time VoIP
offers such an advantage in terms of service options, that this will become
the differentiator between competing IP providers, as well as between VoIP
and switched circuits offerings.
As providers build out their infrastructure they are incorporating
mediation functionality that can not only handle complex billing
requirements, but can also monitor and act on quality of service metrics
and, most importantly, can allow them to capture the total value of each and
every transaction over their network.
ï¿½ Mark Stone, CEO Narus, Inc.
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