Converged Services is the new term for voice, data and data networking services delivered on one circuit, by one provider, like TW Telecom, XO or Qwest. The term was brought about by the emergence of SIP.
SIP was first offered by smaller, lesser known providers and allowed subscribers to provide their own internet access. It was typically sold in two varieties, measured and unlimited local and long distance. Call quality was suspect and a lot of finger pointing occurred when SIP providers blamed their customer’s ISP for poor call quality.
If you read some of the early SIP providers’ ad copy, they made claims that their service could be delivered on any internet connection, including DSL or Cable. Customers attempting to improve their call quality, started off with one DSL circuit and then added a second, to separate their voice and data traffic, and then ended up with a T1 and sometimes two T1s. What started out as a dirt cheap solution ended up costing as much or more as traditional high quality phone and internet services.
Now larger carriers are offering SIP, but they aren’t taking any chances by allowing it to be delivered on unknown internet connections. MPLS Private networks, that prioritize voice over data transmission, are used. Companies can now centralize their sources of internet and voice, limit the equipment required and obtain a much higher level of security with a single point of entry.
With the price of bandwidth dropping it makes more and more sense to deliver voice over a data network. Companies establishing new or moving existing phone and internet services, can save money by installing one set of cables instead of separate cabling for their phone and internet services.
Data is leaving the old, and soon to be outdated public switched telephone network, and voice is being transmitted on the modern IP network. There will greater competition and hopefully less regulation. With incumbents, like Qwest, AT&T and Verizon, trailing their competition and pricing SIP like traditional phone services, companies will have a harder time ignoring competitive local exchange carriers, like TW Telecom, XO or Integra. SIP and Converged Services could truly level the playing field and end the duopoly that exists in the Enterprise telecom market place.