IP Telephony Aims at PSTN

Although IP telephony began modestly as a novel, yet low-quality method for transmitting free voice calls over data networks, the technology is now showing great promise and blooming with business-enhancing features and applications, an industry expert said at the Internet Telephony Conference and Expo here.

"We need to reach feature and function parity with the existing PSTN [public switch telephone network]; IP telephony needs to take the next step," Ken Arndt, vice president of marketing at AG Communications Systems, a subsidiary of Lucent Technologies Inc., said in an evening keynote session on Thursday.

The potential IP telephony applications hold to expand communication options and make enterprises more effective and efficient is what will take the technology to the next level, Arndt said.

The emergence of applications that promise to streamline business operations, such as the ability to integrate back-end corporate database systems with voice, e-mail, fax, and Web chat into a unified communications systems, are driving IP telephony forward, Arndt said.

Challenges for the industry include multivendor interoperability and integrating wireless communication. Leveraging IP as a medium can help mitigate problems with multiple wireless standards and can tie together CRM (customer relationship management) applications.

"IP as a transport medium can enable CRM solutions and new applications," Arndt said.

Another key step in the industry's evolution is to make IP telephony easy to offer as hosted applications, Arndt said. Hosted IP telephony provides higher capacity and more flexible options, which will help drive adoption.

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