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Saturday, March 29, 2008

UC Commentary – January 26, 2008

By Art Rosenberg

Voice is Voice is Voice – But Maybe UC-based QoS Should Be Provided “On Demand?”

There has always been a concern for supporting real-time communication traffic (voice, video) based upon available network resources, because good quality voice connections have almost always been provided with traditional TDM connections. When PSTN demand exceeded capacity, however, the caller would get a rare network “busy” signal, even though the called party’s line was not really busy. Maintaining adequate voice quality for IP telephony and VoIP connections is the subject of a new white paper for managing converged UC networks.

In dealing with different role-based scenarios for business voice connections, the report acknowledges that callers using VoIP contacts or mobile services will not be bothered too much by lower QoS/QoE results. With multimodal devices, they could also have the option to transition to IM text, if necessary.

While it is all well and good to accommodate voice conversations “on demand” by a caller, there are new UC factors that should be considered that will change how voice connections will be made in a UC environment. These include:

· Mobile users will be the biggest users of the flexibility of UC-based voice calls, because they are the ones who will need UC flexibility for changing environments, as well as for real-time interactions for time-sensitive responsiveness.

· UC flexibility will increasingly shift to real-time multimodal messaging contacts rather than immediate voice conversations because information exchange is much richer with a visual interface than the traditional TUI, contact recipients will be less available to talk, and IM facilitates more efficient multi-tasking.

· It makes no difference which party in a phone conversation is the mobile one, as long as one is mobile, Voice QoS will be at risk. As customers get more mobile and start using their iPhones for customer contacts, they too will be introducing QoS problems.

· In addition to what we have already seen with email, UC’s telephony presence and instant text messaging will rapidly displace the ad hoc phone call and the consequential telephone answering voice messages that result when the call recipient is not available. That will reduce telephone call traffic for voice mail and its impact on QoS.

· On the other hand, with UC, any form of messaging can dynamically transition into an instant voice conversation (“click-to-call”), or to an “instant” voice or/video multi-party conference connection. However, just as mobile communications bring an expected loss of QoS, so too will any “instant” voice conference be expected to suffer possible degradation of QoS.

When better quality voice conversations must be guaranteed, it is clear that an appointment must be made, not just for network resources, but also to insure the availability of the people involved. Otherwise, the ad hoc telephony world and the mobile communications world will be converging to create lower quality QoS that will be accepted by most users.

Perhaps QoS shouldn’t be taken for granted any more and we should leave it up to the users to “Click for Better QoS” for on-demand network priority, if that will indeed make a difference. Like everything else involved with UC, we really have to get down to the level of the individual users and their needs.

Do you agree?

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