How can we help carriers dismantle their ISDN networks easily, economically and above all, transparently?
Traditional ISDN and POTS communication networks are now obsolete. Deployments using old technology, the devices making up these networks, etc., have reached, in many cases, the end of their lives. Another influencing factor is that experts and technicians in this field are approaching, or have even reached, retirement.
However, there are still millions of lines in service and millions of clients who use them on a daily basis, both at home and in companies, not only for voice communications but also for data. Communication carriers, the owners of said networks, are faced with the unavoidable fact that they must replace them with new technology. The dismantling of the old network goes hand in hand with deploying the new ultra-broadband.
Migration from traditional telephony to IP
The migration of traditional telephony to convergent services based on IP, plays a key role in dismantling the net. While data has been transmitted over IP for quite some time now, the vast majority of telephony services still continue to use the old ISDN and POTS networks.
One of the most important goals for carriers is to keep their customers during said migration. The latter, when faced with radical or abrupt changes, may well decide to change providers. Given this, the change for the end-user must be as transparent and staggered as possible while still meeting customer demands.
This boils down to three main factors:
- Customers should continue to use their existing voice infrastructure (PBX and phone handsets) for as long as they wish.
- The new networks retain all the advanced features currently used by said customers
- Quality of service remains optimum.
The carrier must be able to efficiently mass deploy the new convergent services. Integrated with the modern management and installation systems, all featured in ultra-bandwidth networks, the converging infrastructure, usually based on TR-69, must have zero-touch configuration ability.
Moreover, carriers require on-site product lines for customers, which integrate the advanced features of ultra-broadband networks, accessed through corporate devices, together with advanced telephony features: IP switchboards and media gateways for example. A perfectly integrated ecosystem of features and accessories (IP and DECT telephones, or wireless access points), for both voice and data, together with access routers, provide both customer and carrier with a simple, flexible, professional approach to new fully convergent IP.
The Teldat Grouphas been selected by a major ISDN network carrier, as the principal supplier to enable customer migration from ISDN to IP. Teldat’s expertise in telephony systems together with their successful range of access routers for carrier managed services, made them the ideal choice.
We live in a digital world. Entertainment, work, information, social relations… today everything is digital. The benefits are obvious. Digital information is much easier to store, transfer and handle than analog and is more powerful. If we think about it we can find many fields where digitalization has had a remarkable impact. In this article, however, we will only consider the impact on telephone networks.
Regardless of whether the telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell or Antonio Meucci (or…), it is clear that it started out as analog, and it remained so for many years. Logically, improvements were made over the years but being inherently analog in operation until the mid-60s, deficiencies in the quality of transmitted voice were inevitable. This was especially the case over long distances that required signal regeneration at intermediate stages, leading to information loss and the introduction of noise. The digitalization of the telephone network was a breakthrough in this regard, since the digital signal is transmitted unchanged regardless of the distance and of the intermediate stages required between sender and receiver.
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
While the move to a digital network paved the way for its use with a range of other services in addition to voice, the final leg, the last mile, also needed to be digital. This step took place many years later with Integrated Services Digital Network, ISDN. As the name suggests, ISDN allows different services to be used over the telephone network on a single line, digital of course.
The advantages of ISDN are clear: firstly, the sound quality (which is why even today they are still widely used by the radio industry), secondly, the extra features (rapid call setup, support for multiple terminals on the same line or direct inward dialing and caller ID), and thirdly, the additional services such as data or video transmission.
ISDN was introduced by CCITT (ITU-T) in 1988 and had its golden moment during the 90s, being deployed with varying success in countries around the world such as Japan, Australia, India and the United States. The biggest impact was in Europe, however, in countries like Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and above all Germany, which had 25 million channels (29% penetration) and one in five lines installed worldwide.
In the late 90s and early twenty-first century two events mark the decline of ISDN; on the one hand, ISDN cannot keep up with market demands for greater speed, and on the other, the cost of Digital Signal Processors (DSP), which allow more advanced line modulations, lowers significantly. It is the beginning of ADSL and the decline of ISDN.
ISDN, the new paradigm in communications
During the first decade of the twenty-first century, ISDN gradually loses ground to ADSL and from 2010 all ISDN service carriers gradually announce its withdrawal. In 2010, for example, NTT announces its intention to migrate all ISDN phone lines in Japan to IP technologies, in 2013 Verizon decides not to install anymore ISDN lines in the USA and in 2015 BT announces its intention to discontinue the network in the UK. Curiously, however, Deutsche Telekom (DT) in Germany adopts the most aggressive stance. By far the world’s largest ISDN provider, it has already begun migration to ADSL/IP technologies having set an aggressive horizon of 2018 for cutting off ISDN completely.
All carriers with active ISDN networks will no doubt be following the transition of the German DT network very closely and it will likely mark the way forward. DT’s commitment is to network modernization and improving customer service while minimizing the impact on the customer. The proposal, therefore, is to offer data services and voice over IP on the same telephone line (ADSL/VDSL) but at the same time giving the customer the opportunity to keep their existing ISDN infrastructure, emulating the ISDN lines from the EDC to their current ISDN PBX.
The use of xDSL and IP services allowing the customer to maintain their internal ISDN infrastructure practically eliminates any impact on the customer, who controls the evolution of the network to an integrated and up-to-date service.
This is an ambitious project and key for Deutsche Telekom. For this reason, following a rigorous selection process, the company has forged close relationships with partners who have proven ability in providing the solvency, experience and agility needed. Within this framework, Teldat has been entrusted by Deutsche Telekom with the task of supplying the access devices.
Will a niche solution by manufacturers like Apple, using ALL-IP, be made available?
Since the beginning of the 1990s, building automation systems in large industrial and office buildings have been an integral part of the construction industry. Intelligent and cost-intensive field bus systems from different manufacturers, provide via various sensors and actuators, a wide range of information, as well as control of numerous parameters such as individual room temperatures, light and control systems.
Nevertheless, the tasks of building automation systems go far beyond providing information related to the technical aspects of measurement and steering building equipment.
SME and Private Homes
Most users in SME’s and private homes do not benefit from this technology because of the high acquisition costs and the hardly measurable advantages in time and money that such systems give.
Many stand-alone solutions have been developed: Individual systems for heating control, air conditioning, lighting, electrical blinds for the windows and beamers installed on the ceiling, are only to mention a few examples. However, each system had to be independently programmed and controlled.
For quite some time numerous radio buses have been established besides field bus systems. The advantage of radio buses compared to wired buses are the simple retrofitting capacity and the independence of any electrical line. Light switches for instance can also be subsequently placed anywhere. Moreover, the price of a radio systems is often considerably lower than of conventional bus systems. The disadvantage of such systems was that they were only partially or not at all compatible.
A presumed susceptibility to faults has been avoided by choosing a certain frequency. Gateways connect the radio buses to the field bus system and even more importantly to the LAN.
Until recently all manufacturers tried to defend their systems. Meanwhile, several manufacturers have formed a strategic alliance in order to enable a better interoperability.
Currently, manufacturers like Deutsche Telekom, Gigaset, Philips and now also Apple have positioned themselves in the market.
HomeKit is the new iOS interface by Apple for a networked home or office as a comprehensive system. Developers can use libraries for instance in order to integrate the voice recognition Siri for their applications without having to write a single line of code.
For app developers and automation products HomeKit is the most important interface but end users cannot yet apply it. A central place for users to control their HomeKit products will be launched by Apple in the future. If everything works out the way Apple announces, we will only need one single app and Siri in order to control our lights, doors, heating and sockets. Not like at present, where we need to virtually have individual apps for every lamp.
When the HomeKit compatible product is connected to the iOS device you can control it or turn it on and off by Siri voice commands depending on the kind of product. Here are some examples:
- “Turn the light on.” or “Turn the light off.”
- “Dim the light.” or “Dim the light to 50 %.”
- “Set the temperature to 20°C.”
With the following commands you can make settings for rooms or environments:
- “Turn on all lamps in the training facility.”
- “Turn off the Support light.”
- “Dim the light in the kitchen.”
- “Dim the light in the demo room to 50 %.”
- “Set the thermostat in the first floor to 21°C.
- “Turn on the printer in the office.”
- “Siri, prepare everything for a party.”
- “Prepare the ambience for dinner.”
- “Activate the night time mode.”
It has been presumed for a long time that a future version of the Apple TV box could take a decisive role as the control center for home automation. Nevertheless, if the platform was only controlled by a mobile device it would not be “smart” anymore when the owner leaves the house with his device.
The secure coupling of a smart terminal device via VPN to the home LAN fills this gap. Not only all devices at home or in the company can be controlled from all over the world, but also all services of the home telecommunication center can be used. When the cleaning lady rings the bell you can see her and remotely open the door.
Siri: “Open the staff entrance door.”
Teldat is aware of this challenge. We support our customers within the scope of our router portfolio, with all ALL-IP products including VPN and VoVPN solutions as well as secure voice connections via SIPS and SRTP in the area of media gateways and PBXs. Together with other manufacturers, telecommunication companies and suppliers we develop these solutions and always implement the latest version in order to offer our customers the highest performance with the best possible security.
The concept of bring your own device BYOD is a growing trend for business IT. There are a variety of benefits allowing users to supply their own PC and mobile devices.
Employees can easily check e-mails, manage appointments via social networks and search the web. Many companies offer their own apps to allow access to corporate data, enterprise applications and enterprise infrastructure.
All IP trend
At the same time the All IP technology trend with its increasing convergence of voice and data allows VoIP Service Providers to support telephony with standard LAN devices as long as it supports the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). In this case BYOD, or bring your own device, is a service that providers offer, allowing users to configure any SIP based device.
There are also free mobile apps and with costs for iOS and Android that enable calls via Wi-Fi and 3G/4G using your VoIP provider.
So what could be more obvious than using a smart phone also as a mobile phone over the wireless LAN in the office. This way some business apps offer convenient telephony with a variety of service functions such as hold, toggling, call transfer and conference calls. Wi-Fi suitable infrastructures allow a high quality of telephony with seamless handover, over the entire wireless LAN. As a further benefit many users have realized that it is possible to have incoming and outgoing business calls at any location within a building offering a good and stable Internet connection.
Where there is light there is also shadow
Many, especially larger companies, have noticed security issues caused by BYOD. However, up to a certain point, they have found a solution thanks to security strategies, using so-called mobile device management (MDM), as well as using a comprehensive data-protection.
SMEs are less experienced in dealing with private IT. Many of the small and medium-sized enterprises don’t know yet how to handle this issue.
The use of VoIP causes particularly in the business sector further serious security problems by opening up the local network for all computers on the Internet. The result is that firewalls for SIP calls have to be opened and thus the use of Internet providers throws the door wide open to attacks from the Internet.
This is where the experience of Teldat will come into complete effect. The solutions which Teldat offer the SME segment contain not only the infrastructure to integrate BYOD devices but allow also a secure integration of telephony. The hybird systems act as local SIP proxies. Hence, SIP apps can connect locally to the hybird systems without any risk. The hybird systems act as a session border controller and connect to the VoIP provider. BYOD devices can make phone calls using their SIP provider without being accessible for the provider or from the Internet .
If you use for example a smart phone outside the company, the key issue for mobile freedom is VoVPN, Voice over Virtual Private Network. The BYOD device establishes via an online Internet connection a secure connection to the office. In our example, the smart phone with VPN and all safety standards carries out all functions as if it were registered on the wireless LAN of the office. Furthermore, the telephone app acts as a normal extension. Outgoing calls display the central phone number of the office.
The increasing convergence of voice and data has been going on for many years. The shift towards Voice over IP (VoIP) has already started!
In some countries such as Germany, there has been going on a discussion about when to decommission the public ISDN networks. The end of ISDN and analog telephone connections is approaching. In Germany all current landline connections will be shifted to IP based connections by the end of 2018. All data, whether voice, email or video, will be exclusively transmitted by the Internet Protocol IP.
Having only one technology for all telecommunication networks requires some essential changes. Network providers take advantage from the benefit of a simpler and more cost-effective network structure. Numerous companies have enjoyed (and still do) the advantages of ISDN services, such as X.25, FTAM, CAPI or OFT. Nevertheless, let’s do not forget the most basical part of telephony which is without any doubt the voice quality. ISDN offers an excellent voice quality and of course no one who has already enjoyed a very high quality wants to move a step back. As a consequence the voice quality of VoIP has to be the same as of ISDN (at lease more or less) and a solution has to be found in order to ensure the quality.
Voice Quality – Quality of Service (QoS)
Quality of Service is the magic word and guarantees exceptional voice quality when you use Voice over IP technology. Professional routing solutions always provide QoS functionalities which give, for instance, voice traffic a higher priority for making sure that there is always sufficient bandwidth for voice applications. It classifies the streams of data and a sophisticated traffic management gives preference to voice data over e-mail data within a VPN tunnel. This results in exceptional voice quality even when bandwidth usage is at its highest. In order to provide maximum security, a professional integrated IPSec implementation uses preshared keys as well as certificates.
Voice quality is only one challenge to cope with when the final shift to ALL IP will happen but it is certainly one of the most fundamental requirements for anybody picking up the phone. The strict separation between the competence areas data and voice is history and ALL-IP will be no longer a vision of the future. In this current transition phase, it is absolutely necessary to have a strong partner with multidimensional know-how because ALL IP not only brings two worlds together but merges them. Teldat is in an excellent position because two of the manufacturer’s core competences are data and voice. Therefore Teldat is a strong partner to have when entering the new world of ALL IP.