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Powerful Attraction: Utilities Still Love TDM

Dan O'Shea

We continue to see great progress toward all-IP networks, and it's become a forgone conclusion that TDM is dead.

While it's definitely fading, there are a few environments that still cling to TDM, and give carriers and vendors a reason to continue supporting it, at least in a small way. One of those environments is the utilities market, specifically the operation technology (OT) architectures of utilities, where critical infrastructure control and monitoring systems, substations and other assets often still are connected by technologies like Sonet and SDH.

TDM lives on because the utilities, usually very conservative operations by nature, have not felt the need to embrace new technology. TDM has provided the resiliency they require to keep their critical infrastructure up and running, and OT applications don't demand much bandwidth.

But, things are changing as carriers and vendors are nearing the end of their own TDM service and product lifecycles. They are nudging the utilities to migrate to IP, which will help utilities to realize some of the same operational cost reductions and network flexibility and efficiency benefits that most telecom companies began to realize well over a decade ago.

In telecom, we've been living with IP technology for so long that we've started to distinguish between old IP and New IP. (See New IP: Bigger, Better and FCC Passes IP Transition Rules.)

However, across other industries, a few TDM outliers remain, and their eventual migration could create a major business opportunity for telecom companies to help them join the IP era. You can read more about this opportunity and the competitive dynamics around it in our most recent Prime Reading feature: Critical Infrastructure: Why Telecom Is Taking a Renewed Interest in the Utility Sector.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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