A Lot's Cookin' In The VoIP Pot

Recent product announcements and vendor-development plans illustrate how Voice over IP is expanding its capabilities and reach. Resellers in the VoIP space say demand for the technology is picking up

July 22, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Recent product announcements and vendor-development plans illustrate how Voice over IP is expanding its capabilities and reach. Resellers in the VoIP space say demand for the technology is picking up across the board, especially in the enterprise.

"A lot of companies with old phone systems are ready for upgrades," says Don Wisdom, president of Datalink Networks, a systems integrator in Valencia, Calif., that partners with Avaya, Cisco and other networking vendors.

New VoIP-related announcements, in fact, have been hitting the news wires every week. A recent sampling includes an alliance between 3Com and Texas Instruments in which the networking vendor selected TI's TNETV1050 IP phone-system-on-a-chip for 3Com's next-generation enterprise IP phones. The new phones will be designed for both the low- and high-end enterprise markets. The TI system features robust echo cancellers--audio feedback has been a common problem in early VoIP installations--plus TI's architecture will allow 3Com to map additional functionality into its IP phones as demand dictates. 3Com's IP phones also use TI's Power-over-Ethernet technology.

Another company targeting the VoIP market is Accton Technology, this time for videoconferencing applications. Last month, the Taiwanese company unveiled its V2fone technology, to be used between enterprises or deployed by carriers that will use it to provide videophone service to their customers. The V2fone is designed for one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many video and voice-conferencing situations. Accton says that its technology maintains "near DVD-class video with less latency," and can be used through a 56-K modem or DSL while allowing no visible disruption, with voice-packet losses up to 40 percent and video-packet losses up to 30 percent. Accton is rolling out the solution with a range of server and client products.

Security ConcernsThat said, VoIP has yet to become ubiquitous, and it may be some time before it's as common as other mainstream technologies. Despite proponents' claims that VoIP saves money over traditional phone lines, start-up costs still can be steep, and lately security concerns have stepped to the fore as a factor that could slow the technology's widespread adoption. For example, last month, security vendor SurfControl issued a statement that warned enterprise IT departments to establish policies regarding desktop VoIP services. The Scotts Valley, Calif.-based company's Global Threat Analysis and Research team reports that the rapid growth of these services is similar to the adoption rate of public instant-messaging systems.

These services have helped foster easier and faster communication between users, but also are beginning to create "a threat vector" that can be exploited to gain entry into corporate networks, distribute spyware and Trojan horses, instigate denial-of-service attacks or steal confidential information. Desktop VoIP services, in particular, allow users to make free calls from Internet-connected PCs or handheld devices, but create a potentially unfiltered, unsecured road into a company.

SurfControl says companies need to address this issue before users inevitably develop some bad habits with VoIP.

"Because consumers often use corporate computers for both personal and business purposes, and no doubt will be compelled by the promise of free or relatively free phone services, this is a very real security threat to enterprise networks," says Susan Larson, vice president of Global Threat Analysis and Research at SurfControl. "We recommend businesses begin addressing the issue today, before it gets out of control as we saw with the use of public instant-messaging in enterprise settings." *

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights