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Wireless Networking Hardware

VoIP, WiFi and the Future of Traditional Telecom 92

PetiePooo writes "Those of us in the telecom industry have been watching it wither and die in the past few years. Here's why. The Register has an article about the future of mobile communications using VoIP on WiFi. From the article: "... voice over IP would gradually come to be a prime driver of mobile Internet." VoIP has been considered by many for a while now to be the future of traditional telephony. Combining VoIP and WiFi makes a compelling argument for the convergence of voice and data services over a single platform. Here's a previous slashdot discussion on industry's efforts to make this happen."
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VoIP, WiFi and the Future of Traditional Telecom

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  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doom Ihl' Varia ( 315338 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @06:46AM (#6083781)
    "Here's why"

    How could some barely deployed technology before responsible for the destruction of an industry? What, did Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, etc al just decide to make poor business choices out of fear? I'm really at a loss on this one.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by nounderscores ( 246517 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @06:55AM (#6083795)
      Previously telecom systems were prohibitively expensive to set up unless you were government or had big backers. Today the playing field is leveled, because both the big corps and the private individual to both establish communications over the last mile.

      It will be interesting to see what tiny telcos which are miraculously on the same standard and able to communicate seamlessly will be able to do.
      • It will be interesting to see what tiny telcos which are miraculously on the same standard and able to communicate seamlessly will be able to do.

        I agree, it will be interesting. Think about how great it would be for towns to set up their own VoIP system. This would help the most in small remote towns (like in Arizona) where there are miles between them. If the people in these towns mostly call eachother they would not have to pay some evil Telco.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

      by PolR ( 645007 )
      VoIP is definitely the future for the carrier's backbones. But you need to know about traffic trends to understand why.

      Back in the old days when Internet was embryonic, most of the traffic was telephony. Carriers were operating networks designed for voice and carved into it some channels for the little data applications that were required then.

      With the growth of the Internet and entreprises IP networks, this model broke. Carriers had to implement and operate telephony and data networks in parallel.


  • VoIP rocks! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @06:58AM (#6083800)
    Having the same number follow you from your desk, to anywhere in the campus, to anywhere you can get a VPN connection (WiFi or otherwise), to home (over VPN) is just too cool and too usefull if you want to telecomute part time. Some of the marketing folks were simply blown away when I showed em that they could get calls at the airport, at the coffee shop, at home, and anywhere on the corporate campus all from the same number that they used at the desk. They had call forwarding to anyone in the VoIP system whether they were in their home office or halfway around the world, could do multiline confrencing using the power of the PBX and only need the single connection in their home office. Basically VoIP, especially with ubiquitous wireless access would change communications as much as the cellphone did. And to make corporations happy it greatly reduces the costs. If all of you branch offices already have decent internet connections then adding them into the corporate VoIP cloud just makes sense, all of those calls are already paid for in the line charges. With the cost of bandwidth on an unending downward spiral the cost of calls will basically drop to zero, it really won't make sense to meter them because the metering will cost more than the connection.
    • Re:VoIP rocks! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cyberdyne ( 104305 ) * on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:45AM (#6083888) Journal
      With the cost of bandwidth on an unending downward spiral the cost of calls will basically drop to zero, it really won't make sense to meter them because the metering will cost more than the connection.

      According to AT&T, that happened more than 20 years ago: even before the 1984 breakup into Baby Bells, they were saying the most expensive element of a long distance call was timing and billing it. They may have been exaggerating, but once you factor in the need to audit and log everything, keeping clocks synchronized, all the extra CPU load on the exchanges, and most significantly the extra software requirements (instead of "patch line X to line Y", it becomes "log start time, patch line X to line Y, keep track of time until the line is dropped again") and customer support (people querying charges - "I didn't call Wisconsin that day, I was in hospital!", "But 281-555-1234 should be a local call from here"...) - just charge $x per month and make sure the calls get through. Much simpler, hence cheaper. (Just compare a telco's billing department to an ISP's...)

      A few years ago, a FAQ for ISPs was "why don't you offer a pay-per-minute option, as an alternative to flat-rate subscriptions?" - the answer was that all the extra overhead would make the per-minute billing more expensive than flat-rate.

      For that matter, MCI now offer flat-rate calls through the US (and Canada, for an extra $4/month) on landlines.

      • Re:VoIP rocks! (Score:2, Interesting)

        MCI is also trying to find a way to dig itself out of the grave it dug. What I find ironic is that MCI was allowed to pull off this return to the sector with basically a "slap on the wrist" penalty from the SEC. Now they're coming back into the sector and trying once again to start the price war that effectively put the telecommunications companies where they are right now. It would be much easier (not saying that they would necessarily do it, but it would be easier) for the telcos to be upgrading their
        • Get real. The telco's won't spend a dime they don't have to. If the ILEC's had their way T-1's at thousands a month would be the only broadband and we'd all still be paying 25+ cents a minute for long distance and no feature that didn't reduce their costs without lowering prices would exist.
          • Re:VoIP rocks! (Score:3, Interesting)

            Yes, the telcos will milk you for everything they can, but what most people out there don't realize when it comes to the telco industry is that they are currently fighting for their lives. The cable industry is destroying them in high speed data revenue, and with the cable industry getting into VoIP, they are looking to take a huge chunk of the telco's market share on voice related services. The telcos have to find a way to either increase their market share in high speed data to account for the market sh
            • Currently in my state they are trying to legistlate the competition out of existance or at the very least get them barred from offering competing services. Of course long term this is ludicrous and the strongest competitor will win, but in the meantime they can do huge amounts of collateral damage with the laws they buy.
      • SBC (Southwestern Bell) has a deal for 20 bucks a month [] that is unlimited nationwide calling for residents in Texas.

        No idea what kind of "catches" there are, but sounds good.

    • You've obviously never been on call, those "pockets of dead space" were always a savior when you were doing something much cooler than responding to the helpdesk. ;-)
    • Having the same number follow you from your desk, to anywhere in the campus, to anywhere you can get a VPN connection (WiFi or otherwise), to home (over VPN) is just too cool and too usefull if you want to telecomute part time.

      Ummm...I can think of a couple of easy ways to have my number follow me on the circuit-switched network. Cellphone? Call forwarding?

      Some of the marketing folks were simply blown away when I showed em that they could get calls at the airport, at the coffee shop, at home, and any

      • > Ummm...I can think of a couple of easy ways to have my number follow me on the circuit-switched network. Cellphone? Call forwarding? But that's only for call initiation. For it to be fully useful, you need to be able to carry on phone conversations once started. One of the Scandanavian countries has done a good job with this--extending the mobile phone signal down into the subways with dedicated repeaters.
    • The cellphone could very well be the medium in which the goals you speak of are accomplished. Already there are reports that next generation CDMA technology will be able to far surpass the 3G data transfer speeds that we see today. Imagine a 1.5M connection to your cellphone that can also be transferable to any wireless device you have(provided you have the proper equipment installed). Now imagine that you can install a wireless hub of sorts in your home that turns all of your home phone lines into wirel
    • Re:VoIP rocks! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Alan_Peery ( 621338 )
      Until a plane flies overhead and knocks your mobile phone off the air as it's dependent on a WiFi connection.

      I'm cabled today in instead of using the wireless right now as planes flying overhead do disrupt my WiFi--something I never expected.
    • > And to make corporations happy it greatly reduces the costs.

      While the marginal costs of VoIP are reduced, the initial rollout can be expensive. Decent handsets with VoIP capabilities are nearly twice as expensive. Many vendors have digital phones that can later be upgraded to VoIP by adding an additinal module.

      Anyways, if your corporation has sites across the country, your PBX can take advantage of this as well. If you are in New York and you make a phone call to someone outside your corporation i
    • I am an engineer at a local independent telephone company. While I do believe that VOIP as a transport mechanism will be the defacto standard, I think we have to consider giving up analog dialtone that has better than 99.9999 availability.
  • by Vendekkai ( 121853 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:06AM (#6083812)
    Yes, I agree with your thesis - circuit switching is on it's way out. But it's still going to last a good long time.

    Here's what I'd like to see replace it. Forget VoIP over WiFi, you still need a carrier. Wouldn't it be great if we could have a mesh radio network, with a suitable self-discovering routing protocol, that would allow calls to be made from any handset to any other handset? Combined with decent encryption, this would put the privacy back in communications.

    • Wouldn't it be great if we could have a mesh radio network,

      It's coming. Low frequency digital spread spectrum. Fast, carrier-optional, longer range, works through dense walls and is about four years from hitting the market.
    • This already exists, not as a whole, but in parts.
      Meshes will never become a reality. They are the most wasteful of radio access network implementations. Instead, expect to see virtual arrays. Simplistically meaning you get to have network access because some other user does and vice versa.
      Encryption on wireless/mobile comms is a joke, as WEP has shown. Work is being done, but good encryption algorithms, suitable for the environment to be used in, are not like pizzas. You just can't order one.
      The "intellign
  • Wireless = Bad (Score:4, Informative)

    by SkArcher ( 676201 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:09AM (#6083816) Journal
    As someone who has, on regular occasion, the responsibility of supporting Wireless access technologies for Companies, I can state categorically that the current standards are NOT up to scratch as yet.

    What do I mean? Well, for a start I have lost track of the number of times individual machines on Wireless simply 'drop out' of communication, leading to perception on the part of our customers that this isn't a reliable , responsible technology.

    We have seen, in implementing Wireless, a whole host of different issues - in ideal circumstances Wireless access works well, is fast enough to be used for most internal office purposes and so on.

    The problem with Wireless in any form is that it is not as tollerant of non-ideal conditions. Adverse weather conditions (especially during the summer, when static build up knocks out entire Wireless networks on a regular basis), passing vehicles, other communication devices (especially mobile phones, which regardless of advancements in tech will continue to operate alongside any upgraded solution for some considerable time) and simple things like the type of clothing work by the person using the computer, have been known to knock a machine out of a WAN.

    Solutions of phone technology over existing Cat5e UTP cable networking, such as that provided by Nortel Networks [] work well, with integration into existing office apps, but Wireless for Data is still, in the field, an unreliable technology. Wireless for VoIP still runs the issue of packet lossage (which on any Wireless solution i have ever seen runs at upwards of 25%), which is far more serious than equivalent signal loss for conventional mobile telecom solutions.

    • Re:Wireless = Bad (Score:5, Interesting)

      by afidel ( 530433 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:18AM (#6083829)
      The fact that you don't know the difference between a WAN and a wLAN makes me wonder why your having trouble getting a reliable wireless network working =) If your having 25% data link layer packet loss then you have serious problems, Cisco gear in a properly configured network (read work with the sales guys to design it, not just slap some AP's up) will not drop any significant number of packets. I used VoIP over .11b for over a year and it was just as satisfactory as the VoIP hardwire phones. Weather conditions shouldn't effect a wLAN indoors, in fact I can't think of how static would interfere at all. Mobile phones will have no impact on a WiFi network because they are on completely different chunks of spectrum 900Mhz or 1.8Ghz, not 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz like WiFi. Basically I think you need to go talk to Cisco or another serious enterprise wireless provider and have a proper system designed, not just throw up a bunch of AP's and expect to get good coverage and reliability.
      • Except that you're wrong.

        Almost all of the new "wireless phone" systems being sold in the US today are 2.4GHz.

        • no, mobile phones almost always refers to cellular, portable phones are 2.4Ghz true, but if you have WiFi and VoIP then those kind of handsets have no place in a corporate environment where they would interfere with the data network anyways and now your wireless phone infrastructure. Phones outside your space should have minimal if any impact.
      • Regretably, our company didn't get to install the networks, in question, we just got employed to support them...

        The WAN thing was a typo, my bad.

        But yes, you are correct in everything you say, the weather shouldn't affect signalling, nor should conventional mobile phones.

        But it does.

        There is a very definite, and very noticeable correlation between weather conditions and poor Wireless connectivity. Every time we have done any research into the problem, with the manufacturer or in any one of a bunch
        • Well sorry, but Microsoft, Fedex, Walmart and a host of other companies would disagree with you on that. Wireless is a crucial technology for the second two and a major productivity booster for the first. Like I said get a professional installation with decent equipment and wireless is fine. If you have a dodgy installer then recomend to your client that they switch vendors.
          • They switched IT suppliers to come to us after their Wireless went in and didn't work properly when the other company did it.

            We are recomending a return to wires. They work, the wireless doesn't.
            • The poorly designed wireless implementation doesn't work, but wireless technology works just fine. I know of dozens of customers with production wireless installs.

              Go to any UPS warehouse and you'll pick up 802.11b. Just because your installers are FoS, doesn't make the technology bad.

              Even a poorly installed CAT5 networks sucks. Runs beyond 100 meters, zip ties too tight pushing into large bundles, bad punch-down techniques (untwisting too much cable), running over flourescent lights, etc., will all mak
        • I'd look for circumstances that might be amplifying the interference.

          Remember, it isn't that wireless can't be affected by, for instance, weather - but simply that it should have sufficient fault tolerance that you don't need to worry about it.

          So it sounds to me like there's something in your setup amplifying the interference, or a breakdown in the fault tolerance features, or both.

          It's just a wild guess, but, well, I've seen radio interference from weather drastically amplified in the vicinity of iro

          • Could be anything, the building is redbrick, so there are Iron traces in the walls naturally, nothing can be done about that as a possible cause.

            The fact of the matter is that I and the rest of the techs are fed up of hearing the word 'should' being used in conjunction with Wireless in all its forms. It isn't good for us to troubleshoot, it isn't good for the customer who has critical operations failing because of the technology.

            Give it 5 years and I'd expect that most of the issues will have been docu
          • It's just a wild guess, but, well, I've seen radio interference from weather drastically amplified in the vicinity of iron pipes, for instance. Improperly insulated power cords, malfunctioning power supplies... that sort of thing I would look at.

            Do you have any links to good web sites about that sort of thing? I have wireless internet, but the ISP is a bit... amateur. It's very cheap, but my connection craps out frequently. It's still good enough to use the web and download Futurama episodes, but it could

      • A lot of new cell phones have short range radio interface, Bluetooth, as well. It uses the same spectrum as WLAN. However, due to frequenvy hopping, it should not cause too many problems...
      • I think the real issue is how will 802.11x handle issues such as jitter, prioritization and sustatained bit rates(SBR/SCR)? I have not seen a large scale VOIP solution running over any 802.11 network for an enterprise. I am not saying it doesn't exist but if it does I would love to see how it addresses the above issues.
    • Re:Wireless = Bad (Score:2, Informative)

      by Krandor3 ( 621755 )
      I have not seen any of the issues you describe on a wireless network and I have one run for many years and VoIP runs just fine over a properly configured 802.11b network. The main interference problem I have seen have been cordless phones that operate on 2.5GHz because those are on the same frequency. Other then that, a properly configured and engineered wireless network works very well.
    • Well, for a start I have lost track of the number of times individual machines on Wireless simply 'drop out' of communication, leading to perception on the part of our customers that this isn't a reliable , responsible technology. How is this perception incorrect? Either the network is reliable or it's not, and which it is is obvious to any observer.
  • FCC Licenses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:11AM (#6083818) Homepage
    This is the wrong band for this type of service. The 2.4 GHz ISM band is an RF garbage dump. Unlicensed users, such as WiFi, are at the bottom of the heap. Unlicensed users may not cause interference to licensed users and must accept any interference they get. In other words, if another spectrum user is wiping out WiFi coverage in a specific area, tough shit, you have to live with it. The fact that the vast majority of WiFi equipment is designed to be cheap instead of being designed to have good RF performance, just makes things worse. WiFi is not the magic cure for all ills that some would hype it as.

  • Like the speculation that Internet is dead, the one about VoIP and WIFI will deal local telecos a death blow is too premature.

    No matter it's VoIP or WIFI, the data packets need the WIRES to complete their journey.

    Who runs the WIRES ?

    Well ... while there are other players, local Telcos by large still own a size-able part.

    Plus, don't forget that the local Telcos have the option to change with time.

    Perhaps in 20 years, local Telcos may not earn as much money from their current business, they may branch o
  • by amorsen ( 7485 ) <> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:24AM (#6083843)
    ...but show me a handset which does that at a price similar to unsubsidized cell phone prices. Or even simpler, show me a cell phone with BlueTooth. Not one of those that just use BlueTooth for headset connection and as a replacement for infrared, but one that actually implements the BlueTooth standard for phones, the cordless telephony profile.

    Unfortunately the handset manufacturers do not sell to consumers, they sell to cellular telephony network operators which then pass the phones on to consumers cheaply. The network operators desperately need bandwidth hungry applications such as video telephony or "multimedia" messages. That is what the phone manufacturers care about providing right now. None of them would dare put anything on the market that takes bandwidth use away from the network operators.

    It will happen in at most a few years though; unnatural market conditions tend to fix themselves unless conditions are truly exceptional or the government intervenes.

    • > Unfortunately the handset manufacturers do not sell to consumers, they sell to cellular telephony network operators

      They do sell to consumers in countries where tying cell phone device and service together is illegal (to ensure healthy competition and consumer's freedom of choice). In the homeland of world's biggest handset manufacturer all phones are sold directly to consumers.

      Perhaps the biggest problem with replacing cell phones with WLAN and VoIP is an order of magnitude difference in network cove
    • Handset manufacturers != cell phone manufacturers. Just because it uses an antenna does not mean that it must be branded Nokia and come with a six-year contract.

      Spectralink offers 802.11 VoIP handsets. Cisco is supposedly implementing one of their own, as well.

      Have you forgotten about the huge world of telephony that exists outside of marketing-driven, pay-per-minute cellular phones?

      And Bluetooth? Who cares. It's another overlapping standard that nobody cares to implement fully. The state of its cur
      • The cell phone manufacturers are the only ones that can hit the mass market within a couple of years. Nokia could sell a phone with cordless telephone profile implemented without changing hardware at all.

        As to Spectralink and Cisco, let me quote from Spectralink's press release: "The NetLink e340 is priced starting at $399". They are targeted at enterprises and they do not have a chance at the mass market.

        For BlueTooth, the cell phones and headsets alone can keep that standard alive and chipsets cheap.

  • Circuit Switching (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gatorBYTE ( 93755 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:33AM (#6083864)
    Ok, I've been hearing that Circuit Switching is dead for a few years now, but I don't see any technology mature enough to take it's place. Mind you, packet switching is great technology, it's just not mature enough to replace what we have in place. That time has not yet come.

    When it comes to dial tone, whenever you pick up that phone, you expect to get it - period. We get very annoyed if connection drops or we can't hear anyone on the other end, no matter where we call. The exception to this of course is our wireless calls. It is still a relatively new technology and so we put up with it. We are willing to hang up and retry the call if we get a bad connection. Sometimes we even wait until we get in a new cell on the network, or wait until we get back to a wired phone. The technology is not that dependable yet.

    Neither is packet switching. You have already begin to hear of the technology replacing circuit switching on occasion, but we are a ways off from massive replacement of traditional circuit switching. Just as it took a while for electronic switches to mature enough to replace the mechanical ones, so to will this technology have to mature. We are not talking about replacing a few PCs on a network. The Telecom industry moves quite a bit slower. Public expectation is just too great. No, you are going to except that dial tone to be there every time you pick up that phone; even while they are replacing the switch...
    • No, Circuit switching is truely dead, just not everyone knows it yet. Check out the articles from a day or two ago, major telco's are already going 100% packet switched, and those who haven't are well over 50% and will be at or near 100% within 5 years.
      • Re:Circuit Switching (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gatorBYTE ( 93755 )
        Death may well be in the future, but it will not happen in a year or two. VoIP still has some maturing to do... lots in fact. Voice demands just aren't the same as data.

        On top of that, you just don't replace a Central Office or a large business PBX overnight. Tons (more than you can even imagine) of planning is required even before the first circuit is swapped out. Implementation of that plan is still another time intensive issue. A press release is only the begining of the process.

        The packet switching an
        • Yes, circuit switching is not going away today or tomorrow. Regulatory implications alone almost guarentee at least a decade more.

          You said

          Most people never know if they are talking over fiber or copper. How can you tell? As long as your call sounds clear and gets through, no one cares. The Technology behind that has been changing for decades, most are cluesless about how a call is connected or what technology is behind it. When that change comes, you are not going to know if you are on a Circuit or Pa

  • KPN, the ex-state run telco, still has a monopoly over the local loop. They have grudgingly allowed ISPs to offer ADSL over their local loops, but not without sabotaging the efforts here and there. But voice telephony is the very core of KPN's business... My ISP has for ages tried to offer telephony service in addition to ADSL. KPN has quite openly sabotaged their efforts. The competition and telco watchdogs have repeatedly warned KPN: "Allow such-and-such access to your facilities to arrange co-locati
  • by yehim1 ( 462046 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @07:59AM (#6083922) Journal
    I work in the telecoms industry as a vendor supplying equipment to fixed line and mobile operators. As there are increasingly more and more players in this once-monopolized industry, there comes a great need for reduced costs, especially in the core and switching networks.

    The number of subscribers increases everyday, and how would the telecom operators cope with the increasing need for additional bandwidth without laying more cables (which of course, increases cost)? By using existing IP network, of course!

    The dot-com internet slump has left most of the urbanised areas on the planet over-wired, and underutilized. By deploying VOIP in their switching and access networks, fixed-network operators can now cater for more subscribers, and at the same time, stay competitive with lower prices.

    Also, operators can then focus on their business (customer service, billing, operations) without worrying about network expansion, deployment and maintenance of the physical medium, since it's already taken care of by the IP network provider.

    One further advantage that VOIP has over conventional switched networks is that IP networks can include a Quality of Service (QOS) package for each subscriber. This means that by subscribing to different QOS packages, subscribers can now have a choice between a low-cost, low (but bearable) voice quality; and high cost and quality alternatives.

    VOIP could be the telecom's way into the future. I personally do not see the end of this industry so soon, as there are still lots of terrain to cover. The world is wider than we think!

  • Hold your horses... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kr3m3Puff ( 413047 ) * <me@[ ] ['kit' in gap]> on Saturday May 31, 2003 @08:00AM (#6083926) Homepage Journal
    I have been involved in the telecom industry for over 8 years, mostly in the call center arena, merging voice and data, and the thing I have yet to see is a good implimentation of VoIP to the desktop.

    An earlier poster made the comment that "a number that follows you anywhere." This would not be a function of the pipe that delivers the call to you. WiFi as it stands now is not a good protocol for VoIP. In general IPv4 is not a good protocol for VoIP, and there Internet is VERY MUCH not a protocol for VoIP. It all has to do with the bandwidth that voice takes, and the unusually high quality that us humans need to have to feel the service is good.

    If you want a good VoIP solution, you have to run a seperate pipe to the desktop, on seperate routers to ensure decent bandwidth. You have to use propriety IPv4 QOS and you have to sratch you head a bit when it doesn't work right. Also, you Data folks tend not to understand Voice applications and you have a hard time getting pratical support from your WAN/LAN administrators.

    We have heard a lot about carriers switching over VoIP. Well, what they are mostly doing, which is pratical these days, is using it for intra-Central Office traffic, which is fine and dandy when the only thing going over your Pipes is Voice. You can guaruntee the quality, know what the bandwidth usage is, etc... but this isn't much different than ATM except that it has a cool name. A lot of us forget that almost every networking technology (ATM, T1, Fiber, etc) was orginally a voice pipe before it was used on the data side.

    GSM, CDMA, etc are GOOD wireless protocols that show what adaptive bitrate protocols can do, WiFi would be abosolutly horrible in its current incarnation. It is a fully cooperative very limited bandwidth protocol. Great for our data bursts, but very bad for the sustained traffic of voice. It has a VERY large overhead, plus you had the overhead of IP and you are at a pratical 3-4Mbs which then has to content with the guy down the hall dragging porn files off a remote server or someone playing Warcraft III with 20 other players. Now even 802.11g/a would be a tough bandwidth to deal with. I don't know the specifications in detail, but I doubt they have any standard QOS features.

    Anyways, that is my 2-3 cents...
    • Vonage has "a good implimentation of VoIP to the desktop"

      I'm using it now and it works great. Vonage supplies you with a cisco box and you just plug it into your router. free long distance in US and Canada.

      i can download files and talk at the same time. there's no bandwidth problems at all.
  • Power Requirements? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheOneEyedMan ( 151703 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @08:03AM (#6083933)
    The existing celluar phone system has very low power requirements. I don't think we can expect any of the existing wireless lan technologies to deliver the stable connections and long battery lives of cell phones.
    The real holy grail of wireless tech is not needing wifi repeaters at all. I know a guy at CMU who is working on wireless devices that communicate with base stations and each other. That way, bandwith and power are conserved by each device broadcasting over the smallest area possible. Within densely populated areas like colleges and cities this could focus as a serious competeditor to celluar service, while in more rural areas phones and computers could switch back to the more traditional celluar and wired services.
  • by Brew Bird ( 59050 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @08:19AM (#6083990)
    Having spent the last several years watching 'telecom implode', I would observe that that has largley been the result of tulip-mania style business decisions.

    Those VERY few telcos that stuck to sound business decisions avoided chapter 11, and are laughing all the way to the bank!

    That being said, VoIP, properly implemented, is a very strong contender going into the next 5 years, because more and more businesses are looking for a 'silver bullet' for ALL their comm needs. The carrier that hands them a magic box that serves their internet, voice, VPN and PBX needs will retain the business of the Enterprise customer, and be successful.

    This hasn't really been possible until about next year, when we reach a critical mass of clue in the Enterprise world. IP PBX vendors are already starting to clean up, because, contrary to what voice only guys tell you, or data only guys tell you, IT IS AMAZINGLY EASY to get a VoIP PBX going, if you have enough bandwidth (and most anyone can afford enough bandwidth in their office), and it is SLIGHTLY LESS EASY to get it delivered through a smart carrier, who will bring you a multi-megabit facility to handle your voice and data needs...

    Bottleneck removed, Class of Service (via MPLS) built in, works seemlessly...

    The key, as always, is access and bandwidth.
  • I'd like to see more discussion on advances in battery life when talking about advances in mobile gadgets..

    A case in point - a friend of mone who works as a US defence contractor told me that they piloted some real fancy GPS + communication device. The only flaw was the battery life - the device wasn't so useful to mreit carrying around a charging backapck..

    When I'm out shopping for a mobile device, battery life usually is among the top two crieteria..

  • by Sigurd_Fafnersbane ( 674740 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:43AM (#6084358)

    Telephony might just be where you see IPv6 being deployed first.

    Telephony is by definition peer-to-peer so you are stuck if you are hidden behind a NAT. Even if you confined VoIP to a class A network like you would only have a little more than 16 million available numbers.

    IPv6 is also prepared for QOS which will be a good thing for telephony.

  • Internet QOS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bizitch ( 546406 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @09:48AM (#6084389) Homepage
    My experiences has been poor when routing VOIP across Internet links.

    The problem isn't bandwidth/speed at either end - but throttling at the internap points between backbone providers (XO Communications is particularly notorious when it comes to this issue)

    When it comes to VOIP packets, there needs to be decent QOS/Priority Queuing from end to end to make it viable - and right now the tier one providers aren't exactly playing nicely together in the sandbox.

    • I've been using a Cisco ATA through a cable modem for about a year now and have had no problems with QoS.

      Call my New York Telephone number and it rings wherever in the world I've got the ATA connected. It has worked in Tokyo and London with better than cellular voice quality.

      I don't have the same mobility as cellular and I have to register the phone with the server everytime I relocate it, but it's a push of a button.

      And for $39.95 a month I have unlimited calling within the US (inc. Alaska and Hawaii

  • I am a maintenance tech for a local 911 call center and so far we have not had to deal with the voip mystery of where the caller really is, so I wonder if there are any others like me that have had to deal with location information issues and if you had any real troubles with programming of the voip to pstn translation so as to really find where that guy is who is choking on his latte' and needs a paramedic right now, but we can't find him cuz the ALI/MSAG database says he is in a building at X/Y location w
  • by isdnip ( 49656 ) on Saturday May 31, 2003 @10:29AM (#6084575)
    As a consultant to the telecom industry, I have to pay attention to what works, not what sells papers. This year's big hype is WiFi, which was designed for room-sized LANs but somehow seems to have captured the imagination of the public as if it could actually hurt the telcos (ILECs). VoIP has been hyped since '96 or so, and has eaten tons of vulture capital, and while it has nice niche applications, it is still no substitute for the Real Thing.

    Yes, you can run voice over IP. Yes, you can run IP over wireless. Heck, 16 years ago I was running IP over 1200 bps Aloha AX.25 packet radio links. Very instructional, because Phil Karn's NOS let me watch a decoded protocol trace of passing packets, and they came so slowly that I could study all of them in real time. Think about it. The point is that you can't run voice over *any* IP, just some paths.

    Circuit-switched telephony is cheap to build. Sure the existing telco networks are made of gear that they paid a lot for, but ILECs depreciate gear over 20+ years. So the Lucent 5ESS and Nortel DMS-100 are VAX-era hardware. What did a MIPS cost when the 5E was designed? Modern circuit switching (which CLECs and some small ILECs buy, not to mention the PBX market) uses modern parts. The switching hardware is only a little costlier than IP stuff, and it sounds better. All the sexy call control features are in the control software, which in a modern system is agnostic about physical-layer protocol. So you can do nice things on circuit, ATM, or IP. Just a different card in the switch.

    WiFi's limits are obvious -- there's finite spectrum, and it's shared with domestic cookers (microwave ovens are right in the middle of its band!), cordless phones, VCR "multipliers", baby monitors, and all sorts of other crap. WiFi5 is cleaner spectrum, though the lower-volume gear is costlier. The 5 GHz band will benefit from a recent FCC rule change that adds 275 MHz more bandwidth. But unlicensed still means low power, and either very short range *or* directional antennas (which take more work). And you have to worry about things like hills and trees.

    I'm always looking for alternatives to Bell wire -- that's really a big part of my job! But WiFi ain't it. There are non-WiFi radios that are better for "last mile" purposes (and slower, because they have to trade speed for range -- see Shannon). The FCC is contemplating making some additional frequencies available, and in rural/exurban areas, especially flatland, wireless can do wonders. In hilly or woody areas, it's tougher. In urban areas, spectrum is too limited. Fiber optic bandwidth is infinite -- there's lots of sand out there, and only one radio spectrum.
    • That spectrum is shared as you say. So if I have the legal right as a licensed service to run a 200 times the rf output power you legaly can your nice kit will not work. I don't know if this is a real problem at 5 gigs but you get the picture. Spectrum is limited fiber is better. How comfortable are you with a 5 gig signal at eye/brain level anyhow?

      Heheh 1200 baud AX.25 Packet is still active. I know WHY but it's handy and free that little yellow light is flashing on my TNC now even. Look Maw! Email!
  • Thus spoke "Chief Zones Officer" at MyZones:

    "Today, broadband is email; but it enables voice. That's why it's so exciting. We want to get everybody a little excited, a little bit edgy."


    I suggest he really wants to get everybody a little bit confused. Easily achieved with consumers having to listen to BS such as this.

    Confusion among consumers is the key to ensuring small-print laden service contracts and complex tariff structures maximise revenues. Drive the demand with sexy marketing slogans but go
  • All that extra layering requires much more bandwidth, and there's only so much spectrum in the bands that will go around and into buildings. Current cell phones are only using a few thousand bits per second most of the time. Voice over IP uses far more bandwidth.

    There's a good argument for voice over IP on fibre, because transmission there is cheap and there's a fibre glut. But deploying 3G telephony to provide faster Internet connections so that VoIP can be run over them is stupid.

    Besides, cellular m

  • Until they start putting authentication at Layer 2 in WiFi, this is a really dumb idea. Given that 802.11 control messages are unauthenticated, it's going to be really neat to actually be able to DoS people's cell phones. The next time some idiot talking on the phone while driving nearly runs you off the road, you can literally cut off his phone. The same in movie theaters. Maybe this isn't such a bad idea after all.

    All it takes is sending WiFi deauth control messages to the broadcast MAC and your phon
  • Yes, the industry is converting to VoIP. However, most of this trafic will occur over fiber, with WiFi being one possibility for the "last mile". The telecom industry is also responsible for fiber. They are doing poorly because they spent a lot of money laying fiber, and there isn't currently as much demand for broadband as anticipated. Switching to WiFi from cellular won't hurt the telecom industry since by definition you're a telecom player for both systems.
  • VoIP predictions like these reminds me of all the media buzz about SMDS data services a few years ago. Lot's of hype, yet very weak market acceptance. Where's the value proposition for a traditional carrier with a huge sunk investment in circuit switching infrastructure (i.e. most of the incumbents)? The majority of VoIP solutions to date just haven't had a viable business model. So, what's changed? It would appear, nothing. Another case in point, more than a decade ago industry analysts predicted that I
  • When moving around with your traditional cell phone, you move from one cell to another. The handset and network both switch "connections" simultaneously. One analogy is to think of the cell phone as having a really long imaginary phone cord (or ethernet cable for VoIP) connected to a wall jack. As you move around, the cord stretches out so far it can stretch no more - so the magic in the system silently connects you to a "closer" wall jack in the blink of an eye.

    Incredible numbers of man-hours have

  • I work for the state, and there are multiple levels of bueracracy. If I moved offices, then I have to pay about $40 to another state agency come out and move the pairs to ring in another office. (Actually we move our own pairs, but for other departments that's how it works - keeps than from moving every other day.)

    VoIP, you would just need to go in and tell it to have the number ring over there instead of here.

    Not to mention not having to wait 2 weeks for this crap to actually get done - and the costs s

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