Editorial: Get off the global bandwagon

First came the 'end-to-end' maxim, closely followed by the 'e-commerce/e-business' mantra. Now everyone wants to be a 'global' service or equipment provider.

In the booming telecommunications industry, every second service provider is trying to capitalise on legitimate corporate demand for low-cost, efficient international communications.

A visiting telco sales representative is bound to utter the words "we offer true global connectivity".

But what does it really mean? Who owns the network and why is it important?

Certainly if a service provider owns the telco backbone, it has a better chance of guaranteeing better quality of service.

The danger for end users is believing the argument that a service provider is immune from encountering interconnection difficulties -- particularly when they are monopolies.

One service provider I visited recently boasted of a global infrastructure, despite some countries that were obviously proving difficult to justify as part of the same network.

Sure, they have interconnection agreements, but it's simply not all their network.

It's no secret that for most new international service providers, voice and data traffic will at some stage travel along another carrier's infrastructure -- typically called the 'last mile' connection to the end user.

This issue's feature article investigates one of the telecommunications industry's underwhelming technology stars -- ISDN.

What's the link to service providers? Australia's ISDN service is subject to Telstra's local monopoly.

It's interesting to note that Gartner Group research on the subject reveals users are shifting to other data transport options such as IP and frame relay.

Meanwhile, users contacted by ComputerWorld suggest competitive ISDN services would give ISDN a new lease of life.

The problem for service providers thinking about participating in the ISDN market in Australia is that it's equivalent to the high rollers room at the casino. First, you must be qualified and second, there are no guarantees you will come out with any money.

So the next time a new telecommunications player tells you they offer a 'truly global service', think of ISDN.

Has it 'won' all the local access rights needed around the world or is this simply another global bandwagon?

Mark Jones, editor,

Network World

Mark_Jones@idg.com.au

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