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Editorial (October 01, 2003)

Convergence is in the pipeline, it's just that it's taking longer than anyone first predicted to arrive.As with everything in these early years of the 21st century, the implementation pace has slowed ...

October 1, 2003  

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Convergence is in the pipeline, it’s just that it’s taking longer than anyone first predicted to arrive.

As with everything in these early years of the 21st century, the implementation pace has slowed to a crawl. Still, it is encouraging to know that some pundits are predicting that within 12 months, integrated voice and data services will gain wider acceptance as a result of overcoming both technological and economic hurdles.

On the downside, Mark Quigley, research director for Yankee Group Canada in Kanata, Ont., says while the telecom sector has long talked about the convergence of voice and data networks, there has been little mainstream appeal from trials that have taken place to date.

“It’s not the industry driving the technology, ” points out Anja Allen, director of convergence solutions for Enterasys Networks in Reston, Va. in this month’s cover story. “It’s the customer.”

“In reality, there are a lot of technical barriers that convergence faces before it is accepted by a large majority of enterprises.”

Despite the gloom, there is a general feeling that the malaise and the chronic slowdown is about to end as organizations look to new ways of doing business and vendors and telcos search frantically for new revenue streams.

As Carrie Higbie, network applications market manager for The Siemon Company suggests in her article on Category 7/Class F systems and components, emerging applications such as IP video applications and video surveillance will drive demand for the new standard.

The ability to provide television xDSL lines will mean an additional revenue stream for service providers, she says, all because speed limitations of the last mile are becoming extinct.

Andy Bray, a principal at Netrius Associates, a U.K. consulting firm that specializes in telecommunications and digital media issues, is bullish on this new strain of convergence.

“Telecom operators have long toyed with the idea of running video over their present infrastructures, but now there’s a couple of reasons why it might start happening on a large scale,” Bray wrote in a report released this month.

“First, incumbent telcos are in a financial jam. They’ve got millions of tons of copper local loops in the ground and they’re desperate to generate new revenues from it to compensate for declining voice revenues.”

One advance, he notes, is the “potentially” simple combination of Ethernet and IP being able to transport video across core networks that feed the DSL periphery.

Bray tempers his enthusiasm by saying there are a number of questions that still need to be answered such is video over IP economically viable, how can demand be met cost-effectively and can it compete with other delivery mechanisms?

Each will be answered, not by pundits, but by organizations who will either invest or walk away from what many hope will end up being technology for tomorrow.

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