The telecom industry is currently in the throes of a great transformation to an all-IP world, and this revolution is raising a host of fascinating opportunities for today’s mobile service providers.
More than 100 years ago, telecom companies around the world began laying down copper wire networks to provide voice communication. But over the last decade, we’ve refined the versatility of broadband connectivity to enable the IP (Internet Protocol) technology standard that is now redefining telecom. IP offers the best technology for delivering the massive amounts of data traversing today’s networks, and it can also be used to transmit a range of other media, like voice communications, music files, videos and cloud computing services, just to name a few.
The switch to IP is currently taking place all over the world, and mobile devices, landlines, televisions and many other connected devices will increasingly communicate consistently using a single IP language. The continued proliferation of IP will enable mobile and telecom companies to redeploy investment from legacy networks to the development of new advanced services.
I recently had an opportunity to discuss some of the new IP possibilities at the Asian Carriers Conference 2014 in Cebu City, Philippines. The event, which just marked its 10th year and typically draws more than 1,200 attendees, brings together a number of mobile carriers, network and infrastructure providers, application and service developers, handset and equipment manufacturers, and entertainment and content distributors from Asia and beyond to share the latest advancements in telecom and information technology.
Day one of the event (courtesy of the Asian Carriers Conference).
At this year’s conference, I had the privilege to share my views on the future of IP networks by taking part in a panel session titled “Enabling an All-IP World” with distinguished participants from three leading technology companies. We discussed several important questions, including what major steps the telecom and technology industries need to take to ensure that an all-IP world is possible, what features intelligent IP networks will have to offer to meet the demands of IPX platforms and application delivery networks, and what the limits are of today’s IP networks in terms of risks that operators will not take.
Among the views I shared, I offered three perspectives that I think will be significant factors in the continuing development of IP networks:
- Sustainability – Will an all-IP world be sustainable in terms of performance and scalability? This is a great question leading to IPX. In my view, free services on the Internet are not sustainable, and even if they continue, the customer experience will suffer. As traffic and content grows, the free Internet will become more and more unacceptable as far as performance and security, and the only way forward will be a managed IP where services are paid for and professionally managed. This makes the implementation of IPX crucial to an all-IP future.
- Quality of service and cost – How will quality and cost be evaluated in an all-IP world? There are many facets of quality of service and cost, and it really depends on the type of application or use case. I think in cases where IP networks are streaming traffic, then quality-of-service metrics like latency will not be as important as jitter. Alternatively, for interactive services like two-way voice or video, both jitter and latency will be key determinants of quality of service.
- Security – How secure will an all-IP world be? My thought: about as secure as today’s all-TDM (SS7) type of world. Security really depends on how much you invest into it, and how you constantly renew it. There is no such thing as a fully secure, totally foolproof network, so no matter how advanced the technology is, it will always have to be constantly managed and upgraded. Thus, I don’t think that an all-IP world will be any less secure than an all-TDM world.
Our migration to an all-IP world will truly usher in a new age of mobile, with faster speeds, simplified processes, and, especially, more advanced services. I for one am excited about the potential of this technology, and I would love to get your thoughts on it.
What do you think will be the biggest benefits we’ll gain with an IP mobile world? What will be the most important challenges? Please leave a comment.