Lab Tests Wireless/Ethernet 'Triple Play' Services

The University of New Hampshire's well-established interoperability labhas made its initial foray into "triple-play" network testing.

April 11, 2005

2 Min Read
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Durham, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire's interoperability lab, a fixture in local-area-networking worlds, made its initial foray into "triple-play" network testing. The LAN tests involved networks with wireless connections and an an analysis of packet traffic that included a mixture of data, voice and video.

In the wireline LAN world, the UNH has been one of the only independent interoperability labs not affiliated with a communications company. Its new move to mix wireline and wireless tests for voice and data not only extends independent testing to voice in 802.11 environments for the first time, but also bridges interoperability tests across wireless-LAN and wireline-enterprise VoIP environments.

The tests have relevance with virtually every sector of the service provider community. Incumbent local carriers, cable-TV multisystem operators and wireless carriers all recognize that the arrival of voice-over-Internet Protocol means that their future service offerings will rely on a cost-effective mix of voice, data and video packet service.

The UNH tests at the end of March involved only enterprise-level integration of the three service types, in topologies that included wireline VoIP and voice-over Wi-Fi. But Gerard Goubert, manager of wireless and VoX (Voice Over Anything) consortia programs at UNH, said the university already is working on extending the next set of tests to include wide-area network links.

The companies taking part in the March tests included Aruba Networks, Azimuth Systems, Cisco Systems, ClearSight Networks, Dell Computer, Empirix, Fluke Networks, Hirschmann Electronics, IBM, Ixia Communications, Sifos Technologies, Spirent Communications and VeriWave. Goubert said that test equipment vendors were particularly prevalent in the first round of tests because characteristics of real traffic carried in enterprise communication channels provide statistics for communication equipment vendors to take part in later test rounds.Since the tests involved end-to-end IP without time-division-multiplexed services, they were aimed at the use of Session Initiation Protocol clients. VoIP switching based on Media Gateway Control Protocol "soft switch" systems are used in networks where TDM voice must be used with SIP-initiated IP voice.

Goubert said that SIP call setup and management are fairly well-characterized in an enterprise environment. Where the tests came into greater utility was in testing advanced bridging concepts for VoIP, call generation and termination, voice quality analysis, and multiple wireless-access points.

The team tested streaming-media servers, though Goubert said that most enterprises still are interested primarily in integrating packetized voice and data. The tests involved a limited amount of Layer 3 routing within the enterprise.

"This is really just the first step in integrating enterprise IP service with wireless IP, though it reflects where a lot of enterprise planners are at right now," Goubert said. "The interoperability issues will get more interesting as we move to triple-play service over WAN links, which is what the service providers ultimately are interested in."

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