Users to debate VoIP vs. mixed systems

Potential moves to regulate voice-over-IP services won't be the only controversial topic related to the technology that gets aired at this week's VoiceCon 2004 conference. Two separate user presentations will highlight another issue for IT managers: whether it's better to install pure VoIP systems or a mix of IP and circuit-switched equipment.

"We're seeing users concerned about throwing out their perfectly reliable Time Division Multiplexing system and migrating to a pure IP solution," said Megan Fernandez, a Gartner Inc. analyst who plans to attend the show. Fernandez said she hopes to investigate new products that will help users bridge the move from the circuit-switched TDM world to IP telephony. For example, she cited IP-enabled private branch exchanges and gateways.

Vendors that plan to announce products at VoiceCon include Irving, Texas-based NEC America, which will introduce a pure IP-based architecture and product family called Univerge that's designed to unify voice, video and data traffic on a single network.

Lucent Technologies and BroadSoft said they will jointly launch a bundle of VoIP hardware and software with carrier-grade capabilities that corporate users can install or buy as a service. In addition, Alcatel's enterprise networking division plans to unveil IP-based voice and data products for wireless LANs, according to a spokesman who wouldn't disclose further details.

In addition, Alcatel's enterprise networking division plans to unveil IP-based voice and data products for wireless LANs, according to a spokesman. Two WLAN phones are being announced, as well as WLAN switches and access points.

Nortel Networks announced that it is extending IP voice capabilities to the wireless LAN world as well, offering a WLAN Security Switch, two WLAN Access Ports, two WLAN handsets, and two boxes that provide functionality for the extension of IP to WLANs: the WLAN IP Telephony Manager and WLAN Application Gateway.

Meanwhile, Avaya will demonstrate a converged communications server that supports the Session Initiation Protocol and a PC-based "softphone" that uses IP. Both were announced last week.

Cisco Systems will show its recently announced video phones for its VoIP systems.

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