|How Will Internet Telephony Revolutionize
We asked several vendors for their views
on the Internet telephony industry:
- Patrick Fetterman, Market Segment Manager, IP
- Michael J. Sargent, Vice President Marketing,
- Dr. Elon Ganor, Chairman and CEO, VocalTec
- Laurence J. Fromm, Vice President, New Business
Development, Dialogic Corporation
- Peter Alexander, Executive Director, Marketing,
- Kathy Meier, General Manager, Internet
Patrick Fetterman, Market Segment
Manager, IP Telephony,
Most people talking about IP telephony today are really
talking about just one application of this technology -- long-distance replacement or toll
bypass. Making "free" telephone calls over the public Internet or over corporate
networks has created great excitement among the press. In reality, toll bypass is only the
tip of the IP telephony iceberg. The true advantages of IP telephony come from treating
voice as another form of data, and will result from fundamental changes in network
architecture. While no one will claim that packet-switched networks will completely
replace the circuit-switched Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in the next five to
ten years, the advantages presented by IP telephony are clearly recognizable today.
First, IP telephony dramatically improves efficiency of bandwidth use for real-time
voice transmission, in many cases by a factor of 10 or more. This increase in efficiency
is the real long-term driver for the evolution from circuit-switched to packet switched
Perhaps more importantly, though, IP telephony enables the creation of a new class of
service that combines the best characteristics of voice communications and data
processing, such as Web-enabled call centers, collaborative whiteboarding, and remote
teleworking. By combining real human interaction with the power and efficiency of
computers, an entirely new world of communications is opening up.
Michael J. Sargent, Vice President
Marketing, Inter-Tel, Inc.
IP Telephony is one major driving factor in the ultimate evolution to packet-switched
transport from circuit-switched. Currently, IP telephony is being driven because of toll
bypass arbitrage opportunities. There is a lot of money to be made out there, particularly
due to the high cost of international calling. Ultimately, combining IP voice with other
information over the "universal language" IP networks of the world (both public
and private) will allow users the seamless use of terrific enhanced services - like
voice-enabled Web pages, voice/video/application whiteboard conferences, and more. These
services are much more readily delivered over packet networks. Plus, business users and
consumers will receive these enhanced services from a wide range of new delivery systems,
such as cable providers and power companies.
Dr. Elon Ganor, Chairman and CEO,
VocalTec Communications LTD.
Internet telephony is a category that has grown from a hobbyist's toy to a
global market expected to reach nearly $2 billion by the end of 2001. Many people perceive
Internet telephony as simply voice applications or "free" calls. This limited
view fails to consider the convergence of voice, data, fax, text, and video in
point-to-point and multi-point applications communicating over mixed circuit- and
packet-switched networks. Because these applications are outside of traditional telephony
and beyond the Internet, VocalTec feels a broader, more dynamic market called IP
Communications has emerged and will continue to rapidly evolve.
End-user applications and gateways between networks have received much attention
recently. However, the most important development for 1998 will be the addition of
software-based intelligence to control the operation of networks and applications.
Intelligent agents will give carriers and users more options for meeting a variety of
performance, cost, or application-specific requirements, with examples that include
least-cost routing, and failover, or follow-me calling. It's just the beginning for IP
Communications and a marketplace that will rightfully be the focus of great attention.
Laurence J. Fromm, Vice President, New
Business Development, Dialogic Corporation
Circuit-switched telephony is the last great proprietary
communications protocol to be swallowed by the Internet Protocol. As IP has built critical
mass - the whole product infrastructure - it has subsumed any number of proprietary
communication protocols (IPX, AppleTalk, SNA, and the like). Circuit-switched telephony is
Separate circuits for real-time, full-duplex audio communication (i.e., telephony) made
sense when they were deployed. By just as Moore's law and the rise of the telecoms has
rendered many architectures and business models obsolete, so too do they for
circuit-switched telephony. With IP network bandwidth doubling every year, with
increasingly intelligent endpoints becoming increasingly cheaper, and with the massive,
well-funded, highly competitive Internet community addressing needs for real-time
communications and security, there is less and less need for a separate network for
real-time audio communications.
Adding real-time audio communications to IP networks had advantages in both cost and
features. Regarding costs, organizations and service providers can now deploy and maintain
a single network for their communications needs. Because this network is IP-based, the
market for equipment, services, and bandwidth is competitive, rapidly evolving, and
standards-based. As for features, adding audio to our other communication means, including
video and audiographics, enables richer communication. Another advantage is that
standards-based IP solutions can be readily extended to offer a wealth of new
Over the next several years, these factors will inexorably drive full-duplex, real-time
audio onto IP networks, diminishing the need for circuit-switched telephony.
Peter Alexander, Executive Director,
Marketing, Cisco Systems
The emergence of Internet telephony is important in that it signals two key beginnings;
the beginning of the end of circuit-based infrastructure, and the beginning of the
Internet's ascendancy as the general-purpose communications infrastructure for the 21st
While the megatrend of global migration from circuit-based to packet/cell-based
infrastructure is widely recognized, the migration can never be completed until the
primary traffic of the circuit-based infrastructure, voice, can be carried better over
packet. Circuit switching has been used for everything from leased lines to private TDM
backbones, but has seen most applications migrate to ATM and IP for reasons of efficiency,
flexibility, and performance. Voice remains the ongoing raison d'être for circuit
switching. Make voice over the Internet as good in quality, as reliable, at least as
cheap, and throw-in some cool, added value like quality/cost selection or real-time
billing updates, and it's all over.
Ask the casual user for their two biggest issues with their Internet service, and
they'll directly or indirectly respond with quality of service and reliability. These are
the two biggest capabilities the Internet must provide to be viewed as -- and then become
-- the general communications infrastructure for the 21st century. Internet telephony will
precipitate the development and finance the deployment and the profitability of these
capabilities through service demand and service revenues. And as voice is just about the
most sensitive application, solving these issues essentially solves them for all other
applications. The rest is just a matter of bandwidth.
Internet Telephony signals the coming of age of the Internet.
Kathy Meier, General Manager, Internet
A revolution is taking place in how voice calls are routed
over the network. Customers are now moving from dedicated Public Switched Telephone
Network (PSTN) to packet-based IP networks. The PSTN is rapidly becoming the "IP
network of the future" because it's a global phenomenon touching corporate
enterprises, network service providers, and next-generation telcos.
The reason corporate customers and ISPs are moving to this new paradigm is because of
cost savings and the efficiencies of a converged voice and data network.
This first revolution in Internet telephony is called phone-to-phone voice
communications. The goal is to give customers seamless, universal access to the telephone
from anywhere in the world with the same dialing patterns they have today. In addition,
Internet telephony gateways with powerful DSPs and speech codecs are enabling customers,
service providers, and telcos to deliver a richer voice-over-IP environment.
The next phase is the maturity of the Internet telephony market. Soon, customers and
ISPs will be able to use more powerful multimedia applications for the Internet. Companies
such as Lucent are also focusing on providing better voice quality performance,
reliability, and telco-grade products that will enable interoperability between corporate
and ISP networks. Work is already being done to improve the quality and decrease the
latency for voice, music, and video over the intranet and Internet with innovations from
Bell Labs' elemedia venture.
Lucent will be an industry leader in pioneering the revolution of Internet telephony
for voice networks by moving customers to the IP network without sacrificing the
performance and reliability of the phone call.