Equant: Shift To VoIP Is Inevitable

Michael Burrell, head of the enterprise telephony group at network and communications service provider Equant, talks about why IP-based voice services are becoming mainstream, especially among multinational corporations.

April 8, 2004

2 Min Read
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While Voice over IP (VoIP) may be a new technology to many IT professionals, it's old hat to communications and network services provider Equant, which supports voice as just part of the traffic carried over its IP VPN services.

In a phone conversation with Michael Burrell, head of enterprise telephony at Equant, we asked about VoIP in general, and how IP VPNs can help companies looking to add VoIP to their mix of technologies, among other topics.

Networking Pipeline: What benefits can enterprises gain by moving from traditional WAN services to an IP-based VPN?

Michael Burrell: It starts with an application performance assessment. Most enterprises don't have a good handle on which applications are using bandwidth. In an assessment, you may find out that a lot of bandwidth is being consumed by applications that are not mission-critical to the business. With an MPLS-based IP VPN, you can optimize and properly size the bandwidth -- and you may even end up saving money by using less overall bandwidth, with converged services.

Networking Pipeline: Can voice be a part of the IP VPN?Burrell: We've been offering Voice over IP services for four years now. We've actually seen it move from early adopter phase to early majority phase, especially among our multi-national customers. By moving to VoIP, customers gain two main things: Visibility and control, and cost savings.

Historically, voice [service] decisions are often made locally or nationally. In a larger country, that doesn't present many problems. But in some countries where the [voice] infrastructure is still emerging, it's harder to see things like who's using the service, and if there's any toll fraud occuring. Using VoIP gives you much better visibility and control.

Cost savings come from the ability to eliminate a separate voice access circuit, plus all the calls between corporate locations [on the IP VPN] are free. For outside calls, there is a simplified pricing scheme, since you're not dealing with different rate plans determined by where the call originates. You're only paying based on where the call terminates.

Networking Pipeline: Some observers have called VoIP a "fad," and that it won't ever completely replace the current switched voice network. Your thoughts?

Burrell: It [voice moving to IP] is going to happen. It's a matter of when, not if. From a LAN standpoint and a PBX standpoint, the battle was over a few years ago, when the TDM manufacturers said [IP] was the path forward. All the long-distance companies are already using [VoIP] in the backbone.There are just so many productivity boosts when you move to an IP-based platform. For instance, employee mobility -- when you can log in to any phone on a VoIP network, and that phone becomes your own. Or adding integrated messaging. In an IP world, that's very easy to do.

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