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August 21, 2005

Intel: VoIP is beachhead to more collaboration

"VoIP is old news. Long live SoIP."

By CBR Staff Writer

That was the message from Intel Corp’s director of VoIP strategy in its digital enterprise group Michael Stanford at a recent industry conference in San Francisco, California.

Stanford, who works with business managers and engineers in and outside Intel, said that, while 2005 has been a good year for VoIP, the technology is the first drop in the deluge of IP network applications.

VoIP is a beachhead, so to speak, of services over IP. I can’t emphasize that enough, Stanford said, referring to collaboration services that could benefit from running on infrastructures optimized for VoIP.

As broadband usage proliferates, VoIP-enabled networks will not just be about cheap calls, he said. After all, the technologies underlying VoIP, such as SIP, RTP, QoS and IMS, also support videoconferencing, presence, document sharing and rich collaboration, he said. VoIP has enormous power to change the way we work, he said.

Stanford said VoIP deployment continues to march forward and pointed to rate of VoIP phone deployment crossing over with new sales this year. In other words, there are as many VoIP phones being sold as there are traditional TDM phones being installed in new deployments.

VoIP has some serious technology inferiorities over traditional telephony, chiefly latency problems, but Stanford said that is, in my opinion, totally overweighed by additional services. He also said it is just a matter of time before the quality of VoIP conversations become superior to traditional methods.

VoIP may be the most demanding of IP applications in terms of quality of service, but a network has been provisioned for VoIP, other applications are pretty much free, Stanford pointed out.

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Looking ahead, one wireless-over-broadband application that Stanford said seems set to take off is dual-mode handsets that roam between cellular, WiFI, WiMax and other fixed networks. So, all of a sudden, you don’t need any phone beyond your cell phone, he said. That, mixed with your computer, is a complete replacement to the desk phone.

He said Intel is very interested in when data phones, or smart phones, overtake generic voice phones, which IDC predicts would happen by 2008. But he said this may not come to pass because there’s also a movement in the cell-phone industry for simplicity and there already has been somewhat of a pushback from cell phones that do too much.

He also said that open networks and open source would fuel future innovation, but warned that regulation remained a wild card. [Regulation is] perhaps even the primary determinant of where voice technology would go, he said.

Stanford also touched on Intel’s vision for Wi-MAX. He said Wi-MAX-enabled phones and early mobile network rollout is expected in the 2007 to 2008 timeframe, with global deployment through 2008 to 2010. At the beginning of this year, he said the company knew of 15 Wi-MAX services and by July that had swelled to more than 100.

At next week’s Intel Developer Forum, the company is expected to have a major new Wi-MAX demonstration, according to a spokesperson.

At IDF, Intel said it will announce a new silicon architecture, but a spokesperson confirmed this would be for computing – rather than communications – silicon.

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