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Service Provider Business VoIP

By Cisco Systems

In the late 1990’s Voice over IP (VoIP) was considered a disruptive new technology that was about to change the way the world communicated. The challenge being the support of voice over networks intrinsically optimized for data.

VoIP is now a proven technology. It is a now only a question of where, when, why, and how fast it is adopted.

Today this technology is a reality in both private and public networks. IP Telephony (IPT) has been deployed into many private networks. Traditional phones have been replaced by IP Phones and PBXs have been replaced by standards-based call servers and voice gateways interfacing to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Within public networks VoIP is beginning to replace transit (class 4) central offices with softswitches and voice gateways; only the future solution of the local (class 5) layer is hard to predict given the massive cost this represents.

Private networks are one of the first areas where VoIP has been adopted. The reasons include the savings achieved by converging separate voice and data networks onto a single IP network; the capability for supporting many sites from a central IP PBX; simplification of Moves-Adds-and Changes; providing Unified Messaging services; adding VXML (Voice XML) applications; to the simplicity of building IP contact centre. Every business case is different. As each PBX is amortized new investments are being made in IPT.

This offers new opportunities for Service Providers to innovate and deploy new services using VoIP technology. Three examples follow:

Business VoIP Access Service
Access is typically 60% of the cost of delivery dedicated services but not usually priced in a linear manner. It is attractive for both the Service Provider and the enterprise to use one IP “pipe” to deliver both voice and data services. Appropriate Service Level Agreements (SLAs) being defined for each service.

The interface to the circuit switched PSTN resides within the Service Provider’s network. This reduces the overall equipment the enterprise has to manage. Cisco can provide an end-to-end solution, from CPE to the SS7 PSTN interface.

The Service Provider carrying all the voice and data traffic though one common IP infrastructure is able to offer a variety of cost saving bundles. Low-cost VoIP can even be offered between different enterprises hosted on the service.

This solution does not require the use of local central office equipment. Incumbent Service Providers can offer these services without further investment in central office capacity. Alternative Service Providers can offer this service over their own transmission or through an incumbent’s leased-line service.

For enterprises retaining their traditional PBX Business VoIP Access can be provided using voice-enabled Cisco CPE such as 2600 or 3700 routers. The PBX is connected to the CPE voice gateway using ISDN, QSIG or DPNSS interfaces. The voice traffic is then carried over IP in the Service Provider’s network as part of a converged service. Importantly this solution supports the end-to-end transport of QSIG and DPNSS protocols, maintaining the site-to-site supplementary services.

Voice VPNs
Enterprises with multiple locations share both voice and data between locations. Traditionally an enterprise takes a Voice VPN service from a Service Provider using the PSTN, VPN features being provided through Intelligent Network (IN) support. A separate data VPN is then built over a Service Provider’s data network. This required investment in separate infrastructure and separate management for these services for all concerned.

As a convergent solution the Business VoIP Access services can be combined with an IP VPN to provide a private network for the enterprise. Voice VPN capabilities include management of multiple private dial plans, forced on-net call routing, and single or two-stage authorised access.

The underlying Cisco IP VPN infrastructure delivers IP Quality of Service (QoS). This ensures that the requirements for different services running over the VPN are met. Specifically voice is delivered with higher priority than data and within specific latency, jitter, and packet loss constraints. IP Security (IP Sec) or Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technologies ensure the private, secure switching of multi-service data between enterprises.

The converged VPN solution combines the flexibility and benefits of a private network solution such as security, performance, custom dial plans and reduced inter-site communication costs with all the benefits of a managed service. By implementing a managed VPN service customers benefit by having centralized billing and management, SLAs from their Service Provider, a monthly service charge rather than big up-front capital costs, and the benefits of geographical reach from the Service Providers network

Managed IP Telephony
Service Providers today are a major channel for the sale of traditional PBXs with the incumbent typically having 30- 50% market share.

With IP PBXs the expertise and skills usually found in data specialist resellers, VARs, and Network Service Providers are increasingly relevant. The barriers that have inhibited them from selling and servicing voice equipment are disappearing allowing them to challenge the Service Providers for this revenue.

A Service Provider managed service not only includes a fixed per-user monthly fee, providing all managed services, but frequently includes unlimited “on net” calls, and competitive rates for “off net” calls. This revenue is also valuable to the Service Provider.

For Alternative Service Providers the opportunity to capture these business minutes with Managed IP Telephony services presents a new revenue stream. Previously this had required significant investment.

Cisco’s Managed IP Telephony solutions enable Service Providers to sell, deploy, and provide ongoing management of an IP Telephony solution. In addition the Service Provider can offer new value-added services such as Unified Messages and distributed contact centres. This leads to deeper customer relationships, and generates new revenue earning opportunities.

The service can be offered with the Cisco Call Manager either residing on the customer’s site or located in a Service Provider’s data-centre. Network Management tools are available which provide remote monitoring of the service from a Service Provider’s Network Operation Centre (NOC).

A recent development is the SMB or small branch converged service. This very simply and cost effectively uses a Cisco router running additional software and provides small PBX or Key System functionality. Service Providers can offer this as part of a managed service to small business customers. It can also be deployed into large enterprises for local telephony at remote sites where WAN quality is not sufficient to enable control from a central IP PBX.

In summary VoIP provides many new options for reducing and simplifying the networks needed to supply and deliver services. This reduces network costs but also increases productivity as IP applications are developed and implemented. Combine this with big changes in the cost and delivery of the broadband access bandwidth one can anticipate an increasing rate of adoption of VoIP technology used in providing services to enterprises.

For more information: www.cisco.com/go/spvoice

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