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IP front and centre at 2006 Canadian Telecom Summit

The 2006 Canadian Telecom Summit held in Toronto in June focused on the need to embrace change and judging by comments from several speakers, network and structured cabling professionals are going to...


July 1, 2006  


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The 2006 Canadian Telecom Summit held in Toronto in June focused on the need to embrace change and judging by comments from several speakers, network and structured cabling professionals are going to have a lot to digest over the coming years, particularly when it comes to IP technology.

In a keynote speech, Ronald Spears, president of AT&T Business Sales, referenced a recent Yankee Group survey in which organizations were asked to identify the top three issues that were driving their overall network strategy in the next 12 to 24 months. Leading the list was network security, disaster recovery and IP telephony.

“Large enterprises, be they Canadian or U.S., are rapidly moving to convergence and transforming to an IP infrastructure, ” he told CNS in an interview. “We have had a lot of taste testers if you will for the last three years, which are namely folks who have had some legacy infrastructure issues and have decided to move into MPLS in order to get the IP capability.

“As that starts to happen, it becomes very important that the service providers can match up their networks with the big global networks.

He also predicted that Canadian telcos are going to have a difficult time providing “global solutions” to large multi-national enterprises. “Over time, we are going to have to figure out how to partner with them better, especially since the telcos have great relationships with many of those Canadian enterprises.”

Holger Kormann, vice president of applications and solutions for Siemens Canada Ltd.’s communications division, said that as IP technology matures, standards such as Session Initiation Protocol or SIP, a signaling protocol for Internet conferencing, telephony, presence, events notification and instant messaging, will play a critical role.

The first generation of IP revolved around voice telephony, but the true value will really kick in with the second generation of IP communications when you start integrating IP into your IT world, he said.

The consulting firm of Robert Frances Group realized this as far back as three years ago. In a report entitled The Advent of Second-Generation IP Telephony, it noted that when IP telephony was first introduced, its lure was the claim that a unified and converged backbone for the transport of voice and data would result in large cost reductions for the enterprise.

For the most part that did not happen, particularly with enterprises. “In reality, the promised cost savings and high returns on VoIP investments in enterprise networks were seldom realized,” the report noted. “Only in ‘greenfield’ environments where a legacy infrastructure was not already in place, could IT executives readily develop convergence business cases, and prove cost savings that would be strong enough to warrant a CFO’s sign off.”

The firm considered first-generation IP, or 1gIP, telephony to be a necessary, but transitional technological step, while second-generation IP, or 2gIP, to be an “industry transforming technology.

“Second-generation IP applications introduce new ways for the enterprise to communicate based on a general belief that distance, media and time are irrelevant during communications. Furthermore, users should be universally available regardless of location and time, assuming they choose to be.”

According to Siemens, increased mobility, global business operations, real-time communications and zero downtime tolerance require new applications and continuous, interruption-free service.

“Business needs drive network evolution and technology replacement. As a result, infrastructures are often in more than one evolutionary stage at any given time. Today, for example, the majority of enterprises are transitioning from traditional to converged networks, with a few leading organizations starting the transition to fully converged communications.”

During a conference luncheon speech on the opening day, Sebastiano Tevarotto, vice president and general manager of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s communication, media and entertainment business, said that at the end of the day, IP is ultimately all about making the “life of our customers” simpler.

“The business of the telecommunications companies is evolving towards becoming service providers,” he said. “Convergence happens at multiple levels, but the only one that really counts is convergence at the service level.”

Tevarotto talked about a congruent three-way convergence model that will involve technology firms (network equipment manufacturers and computer and electronic device manufacturers), service providers and multimedia firms.

“We envision a world where businesses and individuals tap into information and services — whenever they want and wherever their day takes them,” he said.