In the year 2000 “convergence” was the buzzword in telecommunications. The world had just survived the Y2K bug, which had (falsely) threatened to bring computerized civilization to a grinding halt. Ten years later the convergence race has been decided. IP technology is the clear winner, leaving every other networking technology in the legacy dust. With the Internet available in such a ubiquitous manner, and touching so many aspects of our daily lives (from education to work to health and leisure), the leading trend in business communication technologies is now clear: All-IP. At the same time, an event of much larger scale is the mind-boggling speed at which mobile phones and networks (2G, 3G, 4G…) have penetrated the global market. In developed countries today, mobile cellular telephone subscriptions reach 120% of the population! And so another trend has emerged: All-Mobile And the third trend?
Communication technologies are evolving into IP-enabled software applications (the PBX or videoconferencing system can now be offered as a cloud-based service, for example). Which leads us to:
The transformation of the global telecommunications infrastructure into All-IP, impacts hundreds of thousands of Local Exchanges that connect a billion fixed-line telephony subscribers. Many small and medium operators, competitive carriers and over-the-top (OTT) providers have realized this transition and are already running Voice over IP (VoIP) in their networks. This universal adoption of VoIP technology experienced by network operators will be crucial to successfully scale up to mainstream and bring these one billion subscribers onto IP networks.
Businesses going All-IP will have high expectations for IP connectivity:
• Bandwidth: All-IP means substantial additional network load from HD voice and video traffic.
• Reliability: Communication over IP demands IP fall-back, multi-homing, bundling, or loadbalancing
technologies in order to offer reliable and high available (99,999%) IP connections.
• Quality-of-Service: Fluctuating voice quality and unreliable fax transmission are a regular
cause for frustration. The real challenge is managing traffic consistently in order to improve
the customer experience.
How to get to All-IP?
Companies, like technologies, have unique legacies that must be considered when drawing the roadmap to All-IP; there is no one-size-fits-all plan. However, scenarios can be created based on broad categories:
• Trunk: When communication cost is a primary driver, a company that adopts SIP trunking
can use a VoIP media gateway to extend the life of its PBX infrastructure while benefitting
from attractive flat-fee SIP-Trunk services. VoIP gateways also provide greater flexibility with
respect to IP-network integration, security requirements, and interoperability.
• Enterprise: The primary focus for an enterprise is on the user-experience, including unified
communications (UC) features for the various communication channels: chat, mail, voice,
etc. A VoIP media gateway will connect the IP-based, in-house infrastructure with the TDM
trunks while enabling the company to gradually migrate users, step-by-step, from the old
TDM PBX to the new IP UC system.
• Security: Security and fraud protection must concern both the subscriber and provider of All-
IP services. In this context an interesting question is “where does one network stop and
another begin?” This demarcation point defines the limits of control, responsibility and
liability between provider and subscriber. More and more integrators are opting to install an
enterprise session border controller (E-SBC) device to answer that question.
Opportunities and Conclusions
The transition to All-IP is happening here and now. Because it provides solid business values, the trend is accelerating and unstoppable.
At the same time, legacy will follow us for many years to come. We must not underestimate the legacy know-how required for the All-IP migration. The more burdens we pack on IP, the more mission-critical IP becomes. Quality will matter more and more. Maintaining quality—especially when it comes to real-time software—is no small feat. So we had better not opt for fast and cheap options! We must consider total cost of ownership, including maintenance, support, and upgrades for the anticipated lifetime of a network (and then some years on top). Finally, we must carefully evaluate and select services and products that will ensure the enduring quality of our IP networks. In conclusion, All-IP, All-Mobile and Everything-as-a-Service are forces that will shape the market.
Those who explore the opportunities these trends offer will become the competitive players in this, the era of All-IP.
Download the Patton White Paper: All-IP, All-Mobile Business Communication