Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) will be a reality next year. How many years have we heard that? All indicators point to 2005 being the year VoIP launches
in earnest. A number of VoIP trials are under way. The purpose of trials is to learn what is required to successfully launch and operate a new service. However, unless those early lessons are shared, the value gained is limited to the system conducting the trial. Enabling the sharing of information is the driving concept behind the SCTE’s Advanced VoIP Deployment Symposium scheduled for Sept. 14 in Philadelphia. Learn from early adopters
The symposium will focus on the most cost-effective way to engineer VoIP through best technology practices. The symposium will start with a panel of engineers involved in the early launches of voice services over an IP platform, titled “The Good, The Bad and The ‘Wish I Hadn’t Done That.’” Panel members will share their experiences in building VoIP services. There is much to learn regarding network readiness and the critical metrics to achieving the desired service performance, plus the knowledge, skills and abilities of system personnel. Those already familiar with the PacketCable reference architecture will recognize the central elements of the platform: access network, call management server, gateways and back office. Each of these has its own engineering requirements that must carefully balance cost and benefit. Dealing with technology-based services, it is easy to fall prey to “feature creep,” forgetting the need to weigh the capital and operating expenditures required to install and maintain the equipment. However, engineering involves more than just making something work technically. The engineering discipline also looks at the business ramifications of decisions made. Achieving return on investment (ROI) in line with company philosophy must be central to the decision process, and the session on “Achieving the Right Balance” explores this area. Securing the network against attack is an area of concern for engineers. Service-destroying attacks must be prevented from reaching network elements where the damage could affect customer service or potentially shut down the network. Preventive measures are necessary, but they must not degrade service performance. The customer’s voice information riding on the network also must be protected from intercept by miscreants and hackers. For these reasons, one of the sessions of the symposium will focus on securing the network and the content. Where to from here?
A final point of consideration in planning for VoIP is “starting with the end in mind.” Is voice service the end objective of the deployment, or are there more possibilities? If the VoIP platform is an enabler of real-time services to come, then one must consider wisely the investment today so that it is not found wasted tomorrow. Multimedia extensions to PacketCable enable real-time services, and the question to consider is how to build the foundation for next generation services with today’s investment. Please join SCTE and Communications Technology in Philadelphia on Sept. 14 for the Advanced VoIP Deployment Symposium. Registration for this hot symposium is available online at www.scte.org. Marv Nelson is vice president, technical programs, for SCTE. E-mail him at mnelson@scte.org.

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