Telecommunications Outlook: Data and Voice Convergence

Published December 13, 2005

Convergence remains the biggest evolution in the telecommunications industry, as it has for more than a decade. Today, the reality is more readily seen.

In telecommunications, the progression of a converged network for both data and voice services has become more affordable and accommodating for the mid-sized and small businesses in the past two years, not just for large enterprises. The advantage is that customers can choose to work with a single source to provide all of its data and voice services from different vendors. All sizes of businesses now can afford such new data applications as Voice over IP (VoIP) and Business Continuity packages containing integrated protection, redundancy and disaster recovery.

From the service provider's perspective, they can expand their technology and better integrate new services for less, which is passed along to the customer in better pricing. In anticipation of the continued convergence of voice and data as well as the large mergers, many of the mid-sized companies have been creating data and voice networks, which allow them to be nimble, expand into newer technologies and provide competitive, tailored solutions.

Some significant VoIP and Business Continuity product advancements will continue to be at the forefront of 2006. VoIP is based on software rather than hardware. With one network instead of two, it is easier to alter and maintain. The end result is that the network infrastructure is simplified resulting in an increase in both voice and data efficiencies that provide scalability for all types of businesses. An important attribute of VoIP architecture is that it can operate side-by-side with existing systems. A phased approach can be used for the roll-out of VoIP solutions. In a "go as you grow" method it can be implemented to a single department and then extended to the rest of the business as your needs dictate, therefore, minimizing disruption and staggering costs. As providers continue to develop VoIP and get more efficient in its deployment, customers will reap the rewards of the newest technology in the industry.

Business Continuity is a holistic management process that identifies potential impacts that threaten an organization and provide a framework for building resilience that safeguard the vital interests of a company. While on most people's agenda's each year, Business Continuity is the easiest project to move toward the bottom of the list or be moved to the following year due to budgetary or resource restrictions. In actuality, Business Continuity is not a project, but is an ongoing process that businesses need to revisit on a regular basis. In light of the recent natural disasters including the vast hurricane damage, Business Continuity planning is more important than ever for all businesses

In 2006 we will expect to see service providers with a renewed commitment to providing disaster recovery planning, redundancy capabilities and colocation space to businesses that want to outsource or duplicate their solutions. In addition to these basic offerings, service providers are also placing an emphasis on managed service to relieve the IT burden. Service providers will be leveraging their expertise in managed services to help businesses easily, cost-effectively implement the once painstaking, complicated and expensive solutions. Some of these services include data backup solutions, patch administration and application management.

Overall, 2006 will prove to be a noteworthy year in the telecommunications industry, not only as the data and voice technology offerings continue to evolve but also as the service providers re-position themselves in the Chicago market.