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Bandwidth Expansion for VoIP and Data Network Convergence

By: John Shepler

Introducing voice over IP telephony onto an enterprise data network offers an opportunity to dramatically reduce business telecommunications costs. The converged network, though, needs enough bandwidth to accommodate all the services it is expected to carry.

What's All The Buzz About "Convergence"?
Most everyone now has both a telephone and computer on their desk. The phone system has it own network of wiring through a PBX or key telephone system. The computer network is likely an Ethernet based LAN (local area network) with its own hubs, switches and routers. The computer network uses the IP or Internet Protocol and probably connects to an Internet service provider. If the phones used the same IP format, then only one set of network wiring would feed both telephone and computer. That's called voice and data convergence. Greater levels of convergence include audio and video conferencing on the same network.

How Do Converged Networks Save Money?
First through reduction in wiring costs, especially for new construction. VoIP, which is telephones designed to operate on the IP network (Voice over IP), also have the advantage of connecting phone calls within the enterprise at no per minute cost. Many organizations have multiple plant sites and branch offices that are already connected by a data network. No need to pay a telephone company to connect these locations if the telephone signals can travel on the existing data lines. The same is true for audio and video conferencing that can be formatted to connect using Internet Protocol.

How Does Adding Voice Affect a Data Network?
VoIP telephones convert the voice calls to a digital data stream that is typically 8 to 64 K bits per second for each call that is in progress. Adding a couple of VoIP telephones to a network that already has ample data capacity would probably not affect anything. But, what happens when you have dozens or hundreds of calls going on simultaneously. It is likely that at some point the network becomes congested and both voice and data transmission is delayed. Voice suffers most from this congestion, as it is a real time data stream. If the digital packets can't get through, the phone conversations get choppy and may even disconnect. Data users will notice a slowing of uploads and downloads.

How Can Network Congestion Be Avoided?
Network performance for converged voice and data can be improved by implementing QoS or quality of service techniques which give time critical applications, like VoIP and video conferencing, a priority over Internet access and data transfers. This can help improve call quality to an acceptable level. However, once the network is running at capacity, the only relief comes from adding bandwidth to the segments that are suffering the overload. That may require upgrading to higher LAN speeds within the office or going to higher bandwidth circuits for WAN (wide area network) connections between locations.

What About Networks Other Than IP?
IP isn't just limited to the Internet. Companies have been using private IP networks for performance and security. They may also use other protocols for data transmission such as ATM and Frame Relay. Voice signals can be formatted to run on these networks too. The technologies are call VoATM for ATM and VoFR for Frame Relay networks. An enterprise may even use multiple networks when it makes sense from a cost, performance and security standpoint.

Discover Your Bandwidth Upgrade Options Now
You are likely paying too much money and getting too little bandwidth on your old T1 line contract. Get a competitive quote for upgrade service now, including high bandwidth solutions such as SD-WAN and Managed SDN Software Defined Networking, DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabit Cable Broadband, Carrier Ethernet and MPLS network services from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps, with 100 Gbps available in some areas. Find out in seconds what network services and pricing are available now for your commercial business building anywhere in the U.S. Simply use this handy form...


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