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Optical/IP

Spirent Ups VOIP Test Ante

Spirent Communications has reacted to increasing demand and competitive pressure in the VOIP testing market with the launch of a new service and some timely product enhancements (see Spirent Expands VOIP Test Portfolio).

VOIP is the hottest area in the testing market at present, as equipment firms launch new VOIP-related systems, and service providers scramble to bring commercial services to market quickly and efficiently (see Empirix Hammers on Carriers' Doors, BT Picks Radcom for VOIP Test, Psytechnics Teams With NetTest, and Report Touts VOIP Test Market ).

Spirent's latest move is to launch what it calls its IP Telephony Network Assessment Service, which aims to help carriers and large enterprises figure out what they need to do to add VOIP to their networks.

"A lot of carriers and enterprises are struggling to determine whether their networks are ready for VOIP, and what they'd need to do in order to make their networks VOIP-ready," says Bahaa Moukadam, VP of Spirent's IP Telephony Group, who says Spirent is already involved in some network assessments.

But is there a real demand for such a service? Yes indeedy, believes Jessy Cavazos, an industry analyst specializing in the communications testing sector at Frost & Sullivan. She says a lot of carriers have done the pre-deployment tests of the equipment and services in the lab and checked out the potential voice quality of VOIP services. But the service providers are short on resources and don't have the expertise to know how to take VOIP from the lab into a live network.

"Going through the downturn, [carriers] had to make tough decisions in terms of layoffs," notes Cavazos, and now the operators don't have specialist teams dedicated to specific technologies. In addition, there are the organizational challenges within service providers regarding the responsibility for IP telephony, whether it rests with the PSTN or IP managers, notes the analyst.

Those challenges, and the shortage of experience, opens up a market for test firms to build a business based on the deployment experience built up by their customer support teams, and that's an opportunity that Spirent has already acted on across all service and network types (see Spirent Makes Services Play and Spirent Takes Test Services Global).

Cavazos notes, though, that Spirent isn't the only test vendor with services business in its sights. She says the whole of the test industry is moving from being one based on products alone to one based on a combination of products and associated services.

Spirent has also just launched a triple-play test product, called the Architecture for Converged Testing, which allows service providers to test the impact on network performance and service quality of having voice, data, and video running over the same connection simultaneously. Moukadam says the key to this is having a single view of the performance of all the services, and being able to see on one screen how, for example, a VOIP service is affected by a heavy burst of Web traffic.

Cavazos reckons there's demand in the market for this sort of tool. "Carriers have tested voice, video, and data [separately], but now it's about testing them all together and assessing their interdependencies and influences," says the analyst.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading


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