IP was designed as a best-effort, data-networking system with the ability to recover (somewhat) from a nuclear holocaust. This is not a requirement high up on a voice engineer’s wish list. He or she is much more interested in almost total availability (pick up the phone and you hear dialtone always, even when the lights are out), high reliability (the line doesn’t go dead in mid conversation), and high voice quality (no annoying gaps or delays in the conversation that make human interaction difficult).
But the attractions of turning voice into yet another application running over IP are immense in terms of potential cost savings, network convergence, and service innovation. And everyone is pretty much agreed that the way to make this happen is to run VOIP over a converged IP/MPLS core, where Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) provides the connection-oriented layer needed for low latency, traffic engineering, protection, and security, among other things.
Carriers are worried, though, that junking time-honored TDM cores for voice in favor of IP/MPLS cores for VOIP could get them into trouble. "If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it" is a good motto for network architectures that still support the bulk of carriers’ revenues. As anyone who has ever struggled with a Windows PC, a LAN, or a broadband connection knows, an IP application is great when it works and a complete pain to fix when it doesn’t. The carriers’ nightmare is that their shiny new IP/MPLS cores running VOIP to support millions of users could be less reliable than their existing networks, and much more difficult and expensive to fix and operate.
So what are the risks associated with the move to the new voice architectures? And, more pertinently, what can be done to reduce or even remove those risks? Read on to find out.
Here’s a hyperlinked contents list:
- Why Bother With VOIP?
It's NOT about old wine in new bottles
- VOIP Risks
VOIP + IP/MPLS works - but how well?
- VOIP Reliability
Failures will happen - will new technologies help?
- Management Challenges
IP/MPLS management is at last coming up to speed for voice needs
- Improving VOIP QOS
Carriers are learning to reimplement the past to improve VOIP QOS
This report was previewed in a Webinar moderated by Geoff Bennett, Chief Technologist, Heavy Reading, and sponsored by Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), Multiservice Switching Forum, Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Riverstone Networks Inc. (OTC: RSTN.PK). It may be viewed free of charge in our Webinar archives by clicking here.
- Report: Getting the Value From VOIP
- Report: IP Reliability
- Report: IP Quality of Service
- News Analysis: MPLS Gets the Management Blues
- News Analysis: HR Survey Points to Big VPN Changes
- News Analysis: Alliance Demos MPLS With TE, Diffserv