by February 4, 2007 0 comments

With the new year already a month old, it’s time to build upon all the hard
work that we did last year and ensure that promising technologies of past are
not left weeping like an orphan in search of care. One such area where our eyes
are firmly glued is IP Communications.

Internet has firmly established itself as the saddle, riding on top of which
you see a whole host of communications. It started with data and gradually
extended to voice, as large enterprises merged their IT and telephony
infrastructure for reasons varying from ease of management, call quality and
cost control. That was not the end of the story as multimedia started creeping
in. All this opens up a plethora of options for the enterprise user.

For ubiquitous multimedia communications, in which voice, data and video are
deeply integrated, and information sharing is seamless, you need more than just
infrastructure. You need a world where innovation is embraced with open arms and
the powers that be develop a consensus on standards for others to follow. We all
hate a scenario where walking down the alley you find vendors boasting of
proprietary solutions that don’t understand any language other than their own.
Such cacophony leaves the consumer utterly confused.

Adeesh Sharma
Issue Editor
for this month

Another important issue is the continuity of the medium for communications
end-to-end. Potential benefits such as enhanced audio quality and speed of
transmission can only be fully achieved if calls remain on IP-based networks
throughout their journey, rather than cris-crossing traditional gateways to the
PSTN. That is still a distant dream as we are yet to unify our communication

Three scenarios where IP can hold forte are: enterprises with an IP PBX to
connect its VoIP phones; as the ‘last mile’ substitute for traditional
trunks, taking phone calls over existing data connections; and within a WAN,
taking care of high-density traffic.

Let’s take an example. A call from an enterprise having an IP PBX network,
is going through through two PSTN gateways before it eventually terminates on
the destination IP PBX network. The PSTN gateways would add to costs, delay, and
negate some of the key VoIP advantages. The only plausible solution to avoid
such a situation would be to establish an end-to-end IP interconnection, also
called direct IP peering. But this is only possible if you have universal
interoperability through common standards.

It’s not that the picture is not rosy at all. We see the emergence of SIP
as the protocol that has made substantial gains in terms universal acceptance.
However, its simplicity has led to SIP being extended in various incompatible
ways. But without a consensus on basic features throughout the industry, don’t
expect universal interoperability.

Standards organizations and forums, such as the IETF, IEEE, ITU and the like
need to take the lead to come closer and forge a relationship for the greater
common good. Universally accepted standards provide enterprises with more
flexibility to run their businesses, more affordable solutions, and higher ROI.
Once standards-based platforms and applications become more omnipresent, the
path towards integration of IP-based communications and thereby collaboration
amongst enterprises will become less tedious.

Once a converged, real time communication channel is established, it can be
used not just for audio or multimedia, but for sharing data and applications;
enabling distant workers to collaborate on a document, or distant players to
compete in the same game!

IP communications need to be encouraged into all product lines to ensure
ready availability of high quality, scalable components. For this, industry
leaders, standards bodies and our technology developers need to come together to
drive innovation and interoperability. This is precisely why in spite of all
this noise about the immense potential of IP as a carrier of communications
bogie, most of its benefits have not been completely realized.

We need common standards for rich interoperability that will bring these
benefits to fruition.

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