IP Networks Still Two Years Away

Full-service telecom networks based on Internet Protocol (IP) platforms will not be deployed for another two years, according to a report from Analysys.

The report, “Next Generation Networks: Integrated IP Architectures,” finds that many elements in the architecture for carrier-scale IP networks, particularly the voice gateways, end-to-end call control, quality of service support, and network management facilities, are missing. IP on asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) does provide quality of service support today, the report said.

“Carrier-scale voice gateways have been announced, but have yet to ship, never mind prove themselves in real networks,” said Analysys consultant Margaret Hopkins. “Products from companies such as Cisco are on the market but have yet to be trialled in a network supporting millions of simultaneous calls.”

While most data traffic is now IP, the report said, the technology must prove that it can also reliably and efficiently handle the voice traffic that provides the bulk of operator revenues.

The case for IP is supported by many compelling factors, the report found. Cost savings are sizeable for both network operators and corporate users that integrate their systems on one platform. In some cases, the savings may reach 50 percent.

IT equipment vendors determined to grab market share from traditional telecom equipment makers are also driving IP. Falling costs of transmission bandwidth and increasing computer power are also making fast packet networks less expensive to build and maintain.

According to the report, the most likely path for existing networks is to create a packet network alongside the public switched telephone network (PSTN), which is unlikely to disappear because IP has become the prominent application protocol.

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