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Toward converged networks.

Although most people think VoIP's primary benefit is its ability to reduce phone charges, the real key is the integration of voice and data communications. The consensus is that most small businesses and enterprises will move toward a converged wireless data/voice network, but they will take a phased approach.

One of the tremendous benefits (and a source of confusion) of building a converged wireless network, is there are a number of equally valid places to begin. For many companies, installing an open-platform PBX at small remote offices is the optimal starting point. For others, it might simply be linking PBX and directories at the back end or hooking voice mail and e-mail systems together to allow more flexible message delivery. Most organizations will deploy a solution over several years in which the traditional PBX or key system co-exists for some time with the newer VoIP services.

The immediate goals for VoIP designers, manufacturers, and service providers are to reproduce existing telephone capabilities at a significantly lower total cost of operation and offer a technically competitive alternative to the public switched telephone network. However, telephony over the Internet can't make compromises in voice quality, reliability, scalability, and manageability. It must also work seamlessly with telephone systems worldwide. Future extensions will include innovative new solutions including conference bridging, voice/data synchronization, combined real-time and message-based services, text-to-speech conversion, and voice response systems.

Although vendor product variations are endless, the VoIP market revolves around deconstructing the monolithic, proprietary, limited-function box known as the PBX and rebuilding that functionality as LAN-based components predicated largely on open standards and open platforms. This isn't evolution, but revolution. And, not surprisingly, there's more than a bit of anarchy and confusion while a "new world order" is sorted out.
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Author:Vacca, John
Publication:Mobile Business Advisor
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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