Convergence technology for voice video and data set to make debut

Convergence will be a major theme of the CeBIT conference. The new products on show this week will show that convergence is...

Convergence will be a major theme of the CeBIT conference. The new products on show this week will show that convergence is moving beyond simply combining voice and business data on the same network.

The term can now be applied more widely, with suppliers and telecoms operators spending heavily on research and development to provide users with wireless digital subscriber (DSL) and wireless broadband products.

High-speed network

One promising application of convergence that will feature at CeBIT is "triple play", which aims to provide voice, data and video through a single high-speed data connection.

Two options are available: very high bit rate DSL (VDSL) and Metro Ethernet, both of which will make a big impact at this year's show.

VDSL is a much faster version of asymmetrical DSL, which can cope with applications such as video. VDSL speeds are expected to be in the 10mbps range and higher - all over existing copper line connections.

The alternative to VDSL is Metro Ethernet, promoted by the likes of Cisco, which sees buildings being connected to fibre networks to allow businesses to share the high bandwidth from a central network connection in the basement of the building.

Voice over IP

An area that seems set to prove it has reached maturity is VoIP, a technique by which voice and data traffic are run over the same IP network infrastructure.

Analyst Kevin Mitchell of Infonetics Research said, "Service providers are planning notable VoIP investments this year as VoIP calls are expected to nearly double to an average of 16% of total voice traffic."

This trend is reflected by the annual survey from the UK's Communications Management Association, which found that 34% of its members see consolidating voice and data onto a common IP platform as "key to their company's business strategy".

Wireless broadband

Until recently, users faced difficulties sharing broadband connections over a wireless link in Europe because of regulatory issues concerning spectrum frequencies.

These obstacles have now been overcome and companies including 3Com and Cisco will use CeBIT to demonstrate how it can be achieved.

For instance, 3Com's new Officeconnect ADSL Wireless 11g Firewall Router allows multiple users to share a single ADSL line, and is designed with small to medium-sized companies in mind who lack internal networking skills.

The package consists of an ADSL modem, router, the latest 802.11g wireless access point, a firewall and a four-port switch. The product offers 256-bit data security encryption for those accessing the system in 802.11g formats, and between 40 and 128-bit encryption for users accessing the network in the other 802.11 formats available.

Mobile data networks

CeBIT will be used to launch new integration products as the mobile operators roll-out data services for 3G networks.

T-Mobile will be demonstrating 3G data cards which plug into laptops to enable users to access the internet via its mobile networks around Europe, following Vodafone's move into the datacard market.

Mobile operators will also demonstrate mobile network/wireless Lan integration. With this technology users can access the internet via a wireless Lan campus network when in range, or alternatively use a mobile network for access when roaming outside the campus area.

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