Today, voice and data typically exist in two different networks. Data networks use packet-switching technology, which sends packets across a network. All packets share the available network bandwidth. At the same time, voice networks use circuit switching, which seizes a trunk or line for dedicated use. But this is all changing…
There is a lot of talk today about merging voice and data networks. You may hear this referred to as multiservice networking or data/voice/video integration or just voice/data integration. They all refer to the same thing. Merging multiple infrastructures into one that carries all data, regardless of type.
In this new world order, voice is just plain data. The trends driving this integration are cost initially–saving money. Significant amounts of money can be saved by doing away with parallel infrastructures. In the long run, though, new business applications are what will drive the integration of data and voice. Applications such as:
- – Integrated messaging
- – Voice-enabled desktop applications
- – Internet telephony
- – Desktop video (Intel ProShare, Microsoft NetMeeting, etc.)
So, how does a combined network save money?
Data, Voice, and Video Integration Benefits
The place where you can realize the greatest savings is in the wide-area network (WAN), where the bandwidth and services are very expensive.
The concept here is that at some point, you want voice data “to ride for free.” If you look at the overall bandwidth requirements of voice compared to the rest of the network, it is miniscule. If you had to charge per-packet or per-kilobit, voice is basically “free.”
Companies should experience several kinds of cost savings. Traditionally, the overall telecom budget includes three basic sections: capital equipment, support overhead such as wages and salaries, and facilities. The majority of costs are incurred in the facilities. Facilities charges are recurring, such as leased-line charges which occur every month, as opposed to capital equipment, which can be amortized over a couple of years.
Because facilities are the largest expense, this can also be the place where the most money can be saved. The largest part of the facilities charge is the telecom budget. If the telecom budget can be reduced, money can be leveraged out of that to pay for network expansion.
People tell Cisco, “We have to leverage our budget to converge data, voice, and video. We have exponential applications that demand growth and we don’t know how to finance that.” Cisco advises customers to look at their established budgets and see if there is any way to squeeze money out of them by putting in a more efficient infrastructure with features such as compression, and move all traffic over a single transport mechanism. On average, users can expect a 30 to 50 percent reduction in their IT budgets with convergence.
New applications that include voice are becoming increasingly important as they drive competitive advantage.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of voice technology, let’s take a look at just a couple of these applications that multiservice networks enable.