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Banner year expected for convergence

Jan 16, 20062 mins

Banner years expected for converged services

ISPs agree that the big news of 2006 in their market segment will be network convergence. The idea has been discussed for years, but companies are finally buying high-powered IP networks that can handle data, voice and video.

“IP convergence is happening in all companies, large and small, global and domestic. They’re all looking to IP to add value to their business,” says Mack Treece, president of Equant Americas. “I see this trend really taking off in 2006.”

With converged networks come additional managed services – security, messaging, collaboration and more – that carriers hope will gain popularity in the months ahead.

“You’ll see lots of add-on services for what people bought” last year, predicts Rose Klimovich, vice president of VPN and Integrated Networking at AT&T. “So for VoIP and video over IP services, now we’ll see videoconferencing and voice conferencing over the Internet become bigger as we get into the year.”

Another area that’s expected to grow is managed security services that companies can use to keep their converged networks safe from attacks.

“The big news for 2006 will be around VoIP and the security impacts of that,” says Chris Sharp, vice president of MCI’s NetSec Security Services. “As more and more companies adopt open systems, VoIP and soft clients, we’ll start to see a lot of vulnerabilities and threats in that area.”

Carriers also predict more outsourcing as companies become concerned about the growing complexity of their converged networks.

“I see in 2006 that people will become more and more confident about outsourcing network security to a company like us because we have a proven track record,” Sharp says. “They can get more features and functionality while keeping costs low with outsourcing.”

Other technologies on the horizon include IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet’s main communications protocol. Equant sees IPv6 gaining ground in production environments in Europe by the end of 2006.

“We are seeing companies begin to use IPv6 to expand the reach of their IP infrastructures into any piece of machinery they have or to add value via wireless monitoring so they’re able to make sure they know the locations of various pieces of equipment,” Treece says. “We’ve seen some innovative applications being created that will be in production in the later part of next year.”