Technological convergence

One of the most famous props in television history is Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone in “Get Smart.” Did you ever think the watch/phone worn by Dick Tracy would come to market?

It may this year, thanks to Bluetooth technology with links with your cell phone and e-mail.
Convergence of technologies is a reality. Companies are seeing the value of transporting voice over IP networks to reduce telephone and fax costs and to set the stage for advanced multimedia applications. Providing high-quality telephony over IP networks is a key step in the convergence of voice, fax, video and data communications services.
Managed IP telephony services for companies looking to converge voice and data traffic all the way down to the LAN are growing rapidly. They are designed to save companies money by eliminating the need to run separate voice and data networks globally.

Unification and integration
Unified messaging,which unites disparate voice, fax and e-mail messaging systems into a single unified mailbox and enables access from a PC or a touch-tone telephone, will benefit from voice/data convergence.

This streamlined access to and management of information dramatically enhances the productivity and responsiveness of office workers, telecommuters, mobile employees and IT staff. The people within an enterprise are better equipped to make fast, effective business decisions, in the office or on the road.

In another example, enterprise call centers can use voice-over IP to voice-enable Web pages. Using voice-over-IP-enabled (VoIP) browsers with a click-to-talk feature, customers can connect across Internet and intranet connections.

Integrated e-mail, voice mail storage and call records are possible with voice-over IP. A caller can leave voice mail that is stored on the e-mail system. That person can retrieve the voice mail and click on the text message to return the call or leave a voice mail reply.

Applications that launch a Web-initiated call can also create savings. By downloading a simple plug-in, businesses can let customers anywhere in the world contact them at no charge using a click-to-talk feature.

Other applications include Internet, fax and multimedia collaboration. An organization that already has a network can use this method to quickly integrate VoIP and reduce costs.

The most economical route is to use a VoIP gateway that plugs right into existing infrastructure. Gateways intercept incoming calls, digitize them, compress the signal and packetize them for transport across the Internet or managed IP network.

Realizing an ROI
The benefits of moving toward IP telephony can be substantial. Even a casual survey of service providers reveals that long distance calling services using VoIP technology may have discounts of more than 50 percent off traditional rates.

The ability to move quickly and flexibly to plug new users into organizations’ work processes around the world gives any company’s acquisition strategy an efficiency boost. The most significant factor is the potential cost reduction.

Customers benefit from lower infrastructure and staff and maintenance costs. VoIP can be implemented and utilized to simplify and reduce network operations costs.

VoIP works and saves money. Customers can start testing the VoIP waters now and save money on the WAN services side. The time has come to adopt the emerging technology or be left behind.

Matt Onifer MBA, BSEE, is director of infrastructure & consulting services for MCSi – Great Lakes Region. He has 17 years experience in IT infrastructure consulting and sales revolving around voice, video and data. MCSI ( is the nation’s largest supplier and integrator of broadcast, computing, networking and visual communications products. Reach Onifer or MCSi at (800) 777-7178 or (440) 238-0102.