25 Sep 2005

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Artical on VoIP

A good sign that the work on the School of Computing at Napier is being recognized is that it receives a little bit of attention, such as [View article]:

Here's my full-slant on it:

Voice-over-IP (VoIP) is an excellent technology and finally integrates traditional data traffic with speech on the Internet. Overall the Internet has proven to be an excellent medium for transporting data around the world, and it is typically more cost affective than traditional transmissions over the telephone network. It is likely that business will find VoIP a convenient solution as it would allow them to maintain just one communications infrastructure, and not have to support both a telephone network and a computer network. As voice communications is typically a mission-critical objective, it is unlikely that VoIP will replace existing communications for the foreseeable future, as it is still an unproven technology, especially in its robustness, and whether the Internet and local networks can prove the infrastructure that is required for VoIP. A major issue for voice-over-IP is whether our existing computer networks are capable of carrying the extra data traffic that is generated by it. Also the Internet has been created as a carrier of computer generated data traffic, and everything is focused on creating reliable communications for the data. VoIP has a different set of criteria, where it requires a fast communication channel, which must not be interrupted with other types of traffic which will try to take-over the communications channel. Thus it scalability of the Internet into this new area is still under debate. It is, though, the dream of network designers for at least 30 years for the creation of a completely integrated network, where different data types can exist, and not affect each other.

At present the existing telephone network is mainly digital, and can support a high quality of speech transmission, unfortunately we still have poor quality cables which connect from the telephone exchange to our telephones. Thus, it is these cables which reduce the speech quality. With a completely digital network, as in VoIP, we could have high-quality speech transmissions over the Internet, as long as there is the capacity and the robustness for it to happen. Overall it is likely that it will be the business requirement that will drive the market. Thus if business want it and are willing to fund it, the network providers will provide it. The number of new services which integrate voice and data are thus likely increase, creating new markets and new applications. For the UK it is important to keep up with the rest of the World, and provide an infrastructure for the growth in electronic communications, and in the new applications that it provides.

So, will it work? Yes... but there's still lots of issues to be solved. Many years ago I taught ATM theory, and it was perceived as the future of integrated networks. Unfortunately ATM couldn't quite keep up with the Internet, so the Internet that we have will have to grow up and support new types of traffic, properly.


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