Mergers, security shaped networking year

There wasn't a moment's peace in the world of networking in 2005, from big carrier mergers announced early in the year, through a security bombshell and some major high-speed wireless launches.

Carriers consolidate

Mergers and acquisitions redrew the telecommunications map in 2005, especially in the U.S. The biggest regional carriers each swallowed up an international long-distance and business services operator, with SBC Communications emerging as the new AT&T and Verizon Communications acquiring MCI after a bitter fight with Qwest Communications International. Many enterprises saw their carriers change when those deals were approved late in the year, but it was still unclear what the changes would mean for pricing and new services in the long run. Meanwhile, Sprint and Nextel Communications's merger continued a similar consolidation in the mobile arena, and wireless consolidation gained momentum in Europe and Asia.

Cisco security jitters

A security researcher shook the networking world at the Black Hat USA conference in July with a presentation that said a hacker could gain control of a Cisco Systems router. The researcher, Michael Lynn, quit his job with security vendor Internet Security Systems to give the presentation and later went to work for router vendor Juniper Networks, a Cisco rival. Cisco downplayed the importance of the threat, but other related vulnerabilities emerged later in the year. It was a dramatic highlight during a year in which networks, both wired and wireless, came under greater scrutiny and were enlisted to play larger roles in security.

VOIP comes to Main Street

EBay's US$2.6 billion purchase of peer-to-peer Internet phone company Skype Technologies made headlines for VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol), which was rapidly adopted by both consumers and businesses in 2005. Along with that growth came some concerns and conflicts, as service providers scrambled to meet E911 emergency-calling requirements in the U.S. and new technology raised the specter of broadband providers blocking third-party VOIP offerings that compete against their own voice calls.

3G at last

The high-speed mobile data networks that generated a wave of excitement and rich spectrum auctions in 2000 finally hit the streets in a big way in 2005. Optus and Vodafone joined 3 and Telstra with the roll out of their 3G networks. This means all of Australia's mobile operators now offer a 3G network and each one has commenced the battle to win over customers to their high speed wireless service.

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