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Erin Harrison
Senior Editor

Service Provider Opportunities in the New Telecom Marketplace

With the birth of VoIP 10 years ago, some were predicting the end of the traditional PSTN. However, with the 2001 telecom slowdown, and the list of technical issues initially impeding VoIP deployments, the replacement of the PSTN has certainly slowed. But most service providers have since recognized the need to enhance their offerings by providing VoIP, although many are only now implementing it. I recently sat down with Philippe Babin, general manager of Media5 Corp., to discuss VoIP as it relates to service providers.


EH: Is the PSTN facing an impending demise?


PB: As the number of VoIP residential and enterprise offerings from the traditional telcos, MSOs or new ITSPs keeps growing, the percentage of VoIP users will keep increasing. When you add to this the growing number of wireless users, the traditional analog and ISDN lines are being dramatically reduced.


Now that more than 25 percent of North American traditional analog lines have been disconnected, many providers are looking at replacing their legacy infrastructure.Yes, traditional PSTN will slowly die and be replaced by 'over IP' technologies.


EH: Will VoIP technologies be the industry driver?


PB: Yes, if the levels of quality required for residential and business applications are met from VoIP. Service providers looking to offer corporate users IP Centrex or SIP trunking need to be able to provide comparable reliability before replacing traditional PSTN offerings.


They also must find the right 'over IP' technology that will provide this reliability, but that will also protect and support legacy equipment during a transition process that may last a few years.


EH: VoIP reliability and voice quality have always been issues of importance to service providers, but companies like Media5 have made strong efforts to address these issues. Explain how.


PB: PSTN-quality voice and reliability have been key issues that we, at Media5, address when working with service providers. We are now seeing more and more companies replacing traditional fixed PSTN lines with PSTN connectivity via SIP trunking 'over IP.' Solutions such as SIP trunking can offer significant cost savings for both the service providers and their enterprise customers - and going forward, these savings will increase when deployed in an IMS architecture.


The replacement of PSTN lines by IP networks has brought up other issues. One is frame loss and clock drift between two remote data devices, causing the impossibility of using a common external clock signal.


EH: Media5 recently developed a unique feature for this PSTN line replacement dilemma, called remote clock synchronization. Tell us about it.


PB: By definition, IP networks suffer from impediments like packet loss and jitter issues. With packet loss concealment and jitter buffer technologies implemented on VoIP devices, very good voice quality can be achieved. Moreover, next-generation IP networks now also offer lower packet loss rates and lower jitter delays with good possibilities for quality of service.


Data calls, however, made by devices such as fax, modems and ISDN video conference terminals are extremely sensitive to data loss on networks.


Now, even in a service provider's robust IP network, the lack of a common clock signal between two remote data devices will generate clock drift and consequently will lead to frame loss. This means that data applications - faxes, modems, point of sale and video conference terminals - may suffer call failure.


Media5's new feature - remote clock synchronization - is an industry-leading solution to the problem of traditional data calls over IP. By eliminating the ISDN clock issue, remote clock synchronization provides reliable and stable video and data calling conditions.


EH: How does it work?


PB: Remote clock synchronization utilizes a 'master-slave' configuration of digital gateways.


The 'master' unit uses a standard clock signal from a central source and sends IpSync packets every few seconds to all the slave units, allowing them to adjust their own clocks, thus synchronizing all units in a given network to one specific source.


Initial synchronization requires only a few minutes, and once synchronized, the unit will keep its synchronization, even if the gateway is rebooted.


New units will also be synchronized automatically the first time they are connected to the network. The end result is that frame loss will not exceed 1 PPM, which is comparable to traditional networks, and means virtually no dropped calls.


It took over 40 years to reach the existing PSTN reliability. VoIP is now 10 years old, but with the right technologies, is well on its way to achieving the same levels of reliability.


To learn more about Media5 Corp. and its VoIP solutions and services, visit www.media5corp.com or [email protected].


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