Letters: Productivity now drives convergence

From: Brian Stevens

Practice director

Housley Consulting (NSW)

I read with interest your recent column on voice/data convergence (CW, October 16, p36). My association with this application stretches back over 12 years, I thought I may be able to shed some light on this subject for your readers as to whether there is or is not a future for voice/data convergence in their networks.

Basically there have been three "eras" in voice/data integration in Australia. I call these: AggregationEra, 64K Era, and ProductivityEra.

The aggregation era was between about 1986 and 1992 and was really limited to the large corporate and government customers who had lots of Telecom lines around the country.

The cost reductions that came from aggregating both voice and data onto a single line were significant.

From 1992 to 1997, voice compression came of age and very good quality was achieved at very low rates. High-speed/low-cost DSPs (digital signal processors) made the difference and we saw voice/data integration take off in medium-size companies where six to eight voice channels could be compressed over a single 64Kbit/sec line, again making the payback equations compelling.

For the last 12 months or so there has been a realisation in vendor-land that voice/data integration really doesn't offer that much value other than reduction in costs, and that customers really do want those elusive productivity gains they have always been promised from the "information revolution".

Productivity, not cost reduction, is now becoming the primary driver for convergence.

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