Converged communication networks : What you need to know

With the growth of converged communication networks and its spread to the SME’s, it is important to be aware of pitfalls these companies can fall into considering cost effectiveness vs. delivered value.

While it is all well and good talking about the benefits of convergence and technologies such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) making this easier, businesses still seem to be very prone to make poor decisions when deploying a connection destined for both voice and data.

One of the current buzz words in the industry at the moment is MPLS with telecom carriers in the UK using this as a means to persuade businesses to choose a converged system.

Buzz words such as MPLS are used rather too casually without the customer realising what they are actually doing when building a voice and data network for their organisation.

MPLS is a very advance version of QoS (Quality of Service) enabling each packet of data to be tagged in order of priority so that as the traffic travels through and out of a clients network the voice is given absolute priority over other traffic.

The reason being is that without this priority someone’s internet browsing may affect the quality of the voice call. The idea behind MPLS is that this is used across every router and switch on the wide area network across the internet ensuring that clients’ traffic is properly guaranteed.

This is why historically the price of MPLS has been so high, limiting it to be only provisioned by leased line services.

However a worrying number of carriers are packaging up MPLS protocols into a VPN which not only encrypts the traffic, lowering throughput, but also preventing any device on the core network from understanding the MPLS protocols and hence not prioritizing it.

As a result businesses are not getting the full offering of MPLS leaving them with a mediocre service. This in essence is the underlying cause why more businesses are put off choosing a converged communication system.

If more SME’s are to follow the bigger enterprises into converged communication, more work has to go into educating the businesses on what exactly is required when deciding on a network.

Services such as PWAN allow for private networks without the use of a VPN. This hence allows for QoS to work correctly even with a DSL network as the traffic is no longer encrypted and can be properly tagged.

Also by using multiple DSL carriers the business can even have a higher uptime. Resilience being built into a network is going to become paramount to the business if it is carrying both Voice and Data.