In the world of communications technology, the wave of the future is here. Network convergence, also called media convergence, is a system that integrates data, telephone, and video over the Internet. Instead of having multiple devices that manage internet and phone separately, amenities are merged into a single IP network.
Traditional Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become very popular due to the significant cost savings over traditional telephone service. VoIP technology converts voice into data and then sends it out over the network. The VoIP system and the data system are separate entities. The user is still managing two separate technologies.
With convergence, everything is managed through a single system. It integrates voice, video, mobile, and other digital services into one data network. As a comparison, cell phones work in a similar fashion. Mobile calling is merged with the ability to take pictures, video, play MP3s, and surf the Internet. It is able to offer multiple applications in a single device.
Benefits of Convergence
The benefit of convergence technology is multifold for businesses. Not only does it speed up productivity, but it also integrates with existing databases and applications. This is especially important for call centers that need to be able to manage a high volume of callers without anyone being sent to voicemail. Employees are able to share files and videos, as well as manage communications.
Businesses realize a significant savings from network convergence. Since the traditional telephone company is jettisoned, tolls and long distance charges are virtually eliminated. With only one system being supported, it is less expensive to maintain and manage. Previously, separate IT technicians were needed for VoIP and network support. Now, a single technician can be retrained to handle the entire system.
Issues of Concern..
Extremely large networks will benefit by the reduced requirement for equipment space. As wonderful as this new technology is, there are drawbacks. It does require a lot of bandwidth and it may not be as secure as a traditional network. This could leave the system more vulnerable to viruses. Vendors are working hard to incorporate added security features as a part of the package.
This industry is one that changes rapidly, as new advances occur on a regular basis. For this reason, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) does not regulate this technology. This is certain to change in the future as growth begins to slow. A chief concern is the potential of these systems damaging the economy, as it is projected to overtake the older telephone services eventually.
Implementing network convergence begins with selecting a reliable and reputable vendor. Service providers like Allstream network convergence will evaluate the individual needs of each site. Wiring remains a prominent factor, as fiber optic cabling is required. Even if the cabling is present, it must be evaluated for wear and tear.
Also, existing local area networks (LANs) and other electronics must be accessed. Depending on the size of the network, extra equipment may be needed. IP phones replace analog and digital phones, and add to the expense. When considering system reliability, it may be good to add back up battery power to keep the network going in the event of electrical failure. Overall, the implementation process isn’t difficult, but can be enhanced considerably by choosing a quality vendor.