The data, voice and video over IP segment is likely to find itself pitted against public switched telephone network (PSTN) despite its ability to achieve greater cost and productivity savings. This is largely due to the security standards and quality of service (QoS) that still need to match up with those offered by traditional telephony networks.
As opposed to conventional telephony that provides 99,99% reliability, the Internet is prone to serious security vulnerabilities such as viruses, worms, denial of service, eavesdropping and hacking. In addition, since several mission-critical media contents are transferred over IP networks, reducing security threats has become all the more pertinent.
"Since end users give very little importance to the underlying network, IP functionalities need to have a QoS, which is on par with or better than what is available over traditional telephony networks," says Technical Insights research analyst, V.R. Yoges.
While a traditional telephone network uses a dedicated end-to-end connection for the purpose of a single call, IP networks use permutations and combinations in allocating the resources through statistical multiplexing.
"While statistical multiplexing leads to optimal utilisation of network resources and associated cost savings, it does so by compromising the overall QoS offered to the end users," observes Yoges. "Delay, jitters and the packet loss experienced in a network are some of the key features that require close attention while establishing a QoS."
Researchers in Italy have formulated a QoS framework for mixed-technology networks at all levels of the integration from the hardware layer to the application service. This is expected to provide wider roaming agreements between converged access networks.
Although the guaranteed QoS must be available to the user at all circumstances, several external disturbances such as unexpected surge in traffic could degrade the QoS offered by the network.
"Traffic disruptions include those events that initiate a large variation in network traffic characteristics," adds Yoges. "In order to maintain the desired QoS, it becomes necessary to have unique methods for detecting and reacting to such disruptions."
In France, researchers are using network management for regulating the QoS. Such a process is likely to optimise the use of network resources in controlling traffic and improving the related QoS for all applications, from streaming to videoconferencing and realtime control-command. Apart from a QoS, standardisation has also become essential to drive uptake of voice and video over IP. While SIP has emerged as a clear favourite, H.323 is not to be underestimated given the large installed base of H.323-enabled devices both in the carrier as well as enterprise segments.
In Europe, both carriers and service providers are rolling out cutting-edge voice, video, data and fixed and cellular converged services for both residential and enterprise customers. Most of these products are software modules that can be interchanged with other modules and can enable the highest level of seamless communications across domains, irrespective of the carrier involved.
In Israel, a high-end video- and audio-conferencing device has been developed, which includes the latest video and audio algorithms, streaming functionality and built-in content. It facilitates video call forward, call transfer and pick-up, and can be used as a standalone software module or with a camera/microphone.
Typical customers for such a desktop videoconferencing product include organisations with large IP networks that need to constantly communicate on projects or training programmes across multiple locations.
"In the long run, IP is expected to provide better value-added services compared to traditional telephone networks. The onus is on the vendors to educate end users regarding the productivity benefits that offset the high initial cost throughout the economic useful life of IP deployments," says Yoges.
Functionalities such as click-to-call, push-to-talk, push-to-talk over cellular, presence, ad-hoc conferencing and instant messaging are expected to drive the IP industry forward and revolutionise the way enterprises work in the coming years.
Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services.
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