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Cover Story: Voice Is One Piece of the Package

Once the business systems division of Lucent Technologies and the mighty AT&T, Avaya is today the world's largest supplier of enterprise communications systems."Initially it was called 'voice over IP'...


July 1, 2002  


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Once the business systems division of Lucent Technologies and the mighty AT&T, Avaya is today the world’s largest supplier of enterprise communications systems.

“Initially it was called ‘voice over IP’, but I think that terminology belittles what’s actually going on today,” says Paul McDevitt, Senior VP of Service and Support at Avaya Canada Corp. “VoIP was cool for a while. You may have sounded like Donald Duck, but Aunt Sally didn’t care. It was free long distance.

“But transporting voice physically across data networks is just one piece of the whole package,” adds the long-time telecom expert. “Telephony really is a whole series of applications. When a call comes in, where are you going to put it? Is it going to come to me, or go to voicemail? Will you differentiate between an internal caller and an external caller? Are you going to set different times for when such calls should happen? Do you want the system to try my cell phone before going to voicemail? These are all telephony applications — things the system does to help find you or get a caller from outside to the correct person inside.

“One big difference with VoIP,” he adds, “is that in the past you didn’t even think about all those things because they were all part of an integrated, monolithic device that provided it all.”

But there are benefits to the convergence equation as well, says McDevitt. When people are looking at building one large virtual network, or handling mobile users or remote workers, telephony over packet has much to offer.

And it’s important to do your homework before moving telephony applications to the LAN, he warns. “Having your network needs and present resources fully assessed is an important part of the decision-making process,” says McDevitt. Legacy data networks may cause problems, he says. “If the network isn’t set-up appropriately to handle a voice call, it won’t happen,” he says, “because things like Quality of Service are vitally important.”


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