over IP (VoIP) is hardly a new technology. It's been around
since 1995, when VocalTel Communications came up with the
idea of passing voice in form of packets over data networks.
Since then geeks, home users as well as enterprises have hopped
on to this platform to cut down substantially on call costs.
Besides the usual cost factor, VoIP offers other inherent
technology benefits. It is innately superior to PSTN (Public
Switched Telephone Network)a technology used by existing
telephone networks. Additionally, it allows an enterprise
to roll out value-added services over the same network without
any significant investment or effort.
In India the scenario has been quite different. VoIP has failed
to take off in a big way due to government policies framed
to protect the interests of state-run BSNL and VSNL. VoIP
use is restricted to a closed loop within an enterprise, say
over a leased line or a Frame Relay network. Now, with the
government committed to opening NLD/ILD (National Long Distance/International
Long Distance) telecom sectors to private players and legalizing
IP telephony by April 2002, VoIP vendors expect this technology
to catch on in a big way.
Taking the jump
But will Indian enterprises move their voice traffic to VoIP
once it is legalized? And who will be the likely convertsEnterprises,
SMEsgiven the high costs involved in setting and maintaining
a converged network? Will the switch to VoIP be justified
in the wake of falling costs of long-distance calls?
To get some answers for this month's cover story, we talked
to key industry veterans, analysts and vendors. Most of the
people we interviewed in due course for this story agreed
on one thing: VoIP if implemented between various locations
within and outside an enterprise would translate into significant
cost-savings under existing long-distance telephony tariff
What about ROI?
But will VoIP networks continue to provide the same ROI? This
question is quite pertinent with private telecom players getting
into long-distance telephony and the possibility of a further
tariff cut by BSNL and VSNL looming on the horizon. In future,
the success of VoIP may depend, not on just the low call costs
factor, but on the value-adds enterprises or service providers
can dole out over converged networks.
In addition to this, we also cover the technology aspects
of VoIP, everything that you wanted to know about the protocols,
converged networks or other implementation and QoS-related
issues. The concrete technology facts may help you evaluate
whether a VoIP solution is the right remedy to your organization's
ever inflated telephone bill, and also to help you assess
whether your existing data network can cope with the heavy
Ajgaonkar, Assistant Editor