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The maturing of ISDN brings on new users.


Integrated Services Digital Networks (ISDN) has developed to the stage where applications are frequently routine. New uses of ISDN can now be made without extensive prior analysis and lenghty testing.

That's the sign of a maturing product!

This rapid development in ISDN usage was highlighted to me recently when I interviewed Edward Hodgson, manager of computing and communications, at Schindler Elevator Corp. in New Jersey.

Schindler is a major manufacturer and service company of elevators and escalators.

Hodgson told me that Schindler had a problem in a Service Center that answered customer calls and dispatched service people to repair elevator and escalator problems.

They had a Customer Conference Room one floor and two wiring closets away (from the Service Center) in which they wanted to display the live information from an agent's 3270 CRT and the two-way conversation taking place with the customer, all in real-time as it occurred.

The audio portion, Hodgson explained, was no problem. They had been doing phone taps and telephone conferencing for years.

The 3270 information was another matter. There were no "monitoring" devices available on the market for 3270 coax, they could not "parallel" devices, and the VGA video output from a PC could not readily be converted to a standard TV signal.

At this point, Hodgson said, they looked at ISDN capabilities and the ISDN Centrex lines already installed at Schindler.

One of the ISDN applications is "Data Conferencing" whereby one user can call another and both can share the screen information and the keyboard control is passed back and forth.

With ISDN Centrex lines already installed, Hodgson said, they choose two of these lines, one installed in the Service Center and the other in the Customer Conference Room, to provide the connection between the two facilities.

An ICL PC with ISDN and Data Conferencing software (OS2) at each site provides the screen sharing capability.

An IRMA card (and software) at the Service Center provides the 3270 access.

Hodgson went on to explain that the audio is still analog via in-house wiring because the automatic call distributor (ACD) unit is analog.

He said they will be moving the ACD function into the PBX with ISDN access, at which time the conversations will use the other ISDN "B" channel under voice conferencing functions.

Hodgson's final comment sums up succinctly the above process. "We found a fast and easy solution to a difficult technical problem."

This is also an example of how easy it is to over-complicate a problem or dismiss a solution as too costly.

Schindler had ISDN available and used it!

Also, if you've ever been stuck in an elevator, as I have, you will applaud any advancements in dispatching service people to elevator sites!

There are numerous telecommunications managers who study opportunities to death and are always waiting for a lower cost, for someone else to "get the bugs out," for the next feature upgrade.

This was particularly prevalent around the time when customer premises equipment other than Bell equipment was finally authorized and then around the time of divestiture.

These managers had become so accustomed to calling their national account manager for every little problem that they could not make their own decision on anything.

Fortunately this attitude is disappearing in most telecommunications departments, because the opportunity to follow it is disappearing, but it still exists in some mentalities.

Then there are various "experts" and consultants, who often see only the negative side of new developments.

I remember reading several editorials in popular trade publications within the past year that said ISDN was far too expensive and "a solution looking for problems."

It's easy to editorialize but more difficult to seize opportunities that may, initially, embody some risk.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Blegen, August
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:column
Date:Jan 1, 1991
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