ACM Queue wirites that VoIP is much more than just “an IP version of telecom-as-usual”:
Network and service providers see VoIP technology as a means of reducing their cost of offering existing voice-based services and new multimedia services. Service providers also view VoIP infrastructure as an economical base on which to build new revenue-generating services. As deployment of VoIP technology becomes widespread and part of a shared competitive landscape, this second goal will become more important, with service providers working to increase their market bases.
Most current and envisioned VoIP services are so-called converged services, integrating features and functions from multiple existing services. Often, features from conventional voice-based telephony services are combined with those found in data network services. For example, click-to-dial services allow users to control telephone calls from Web browsers running on their personal computers. Converged services may also provide users with new media integration. For example, multimedia conference services allow users to interact with each other through calls in which they exchange both audio and video information (i.e., new versions of videophones).
The growing opportunities for converged telephony-Web services are motivating convergence of telephony and data networks. VoIP services are also driving another network convergence: integration of wireless and wireline networks. More general network convergence seems likely. Because IP networks can be relatively inexpensive, network providers are encouraged to build common IP core networks surrounded by various access networks. These access networks (wireless, wireline, cable, etc.) can share the IP core resources, and thus reduce the costs of providing common services to customers with different access devices.
Many engaging VoIP services are already available, and service providers are planning even more exciting services. Continued deployment of IP networks and IP endpoint devices will enable further development of new services. Also, as the processing capacity of IP endpoints increasesallowing them to deal directly with network access controls, multiple data formats, and transformationsmore innovative and convenient services will become possible.
Jon Udell has more.