Optical/IP Networks

Wired, Meet Wireless

The union of wireless and wired services is one of the brighter spots on the telecom horizon, according to speakers at Light Reading’s Links 2004 Executive Summit in California.

In keeping with the theme of the event that set out to examine the links and disconnects in telecom value chain, speakers from service providers, system vendors, and silicon companies all contributed their perspective on that oft abused concept: “convergence.”

What made this all the more fascinating was that wireless comments were made unprompted at an event dominated by wireline technology companies without a single reference to wireless or mobility on the agenda.

“There’s no insight to knowing we’re going to have a single converged network one day and [that] we’re probably going to talk to it by wireless," said Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) CEO Scott Kriens, in his afternoon keynote address. "Why have a wire if you don’t need one?”

The point of Krien’s comments was not to boost wireless, but to show just how ingrained this concept of convergence has become in the collective telecom consciousness. The real issue, he says, is to work out how and when it’s going to happen. “What do we do to speed it up?”

Turns out that part of the answer is in the Juniper-backed “Infranet” initiative as much as it’s about high-rate radio bearers and Shannon’s Law… but that’s a whole other story (see Juniper Does Vision Thing).

“Wireless has tremendous amount of potential,” says Mark Kaish, vice president of next-generation solutions at BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), in his discussion of end user services. “Wireless/wireline will be an emerging killer app, but right now we’re not smart enough to know what that’s going to look like.”

“We know there’s a trend, but the problem is [enterprise] customers can’t articulate [exactly what they want] yet.” The starting point, he suggests, would be to bundle existing services and networks into a single-service package.

In his opening keynote, Mike Volpi, senior vice president and general manager, Routing Technology Group, at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), hinted at how the next-generation network would support these converged services by introducing the concept of the “Cisco Universal Exchange,” which he describes as “a common location where you bring together all the elements of service control.”

Volpi suggests two reasons for why convergence is now possible, versus five years ago when everyone started talking about it: common agreement on IP/MPLS protocols, combined with improved reliability and security.

“IP devices today are at a good enough level of availability to converge,” he told the conference.

— Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst, Unstrung Insider

For information on the state of industry financials, check out the coming Light Reading Live! event:

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