There was a time when service providers had to purchase massively expensive proprietary equipment in order to deploy telephone service. Class 4 and 5 switches required enormous investment and could be justified as this equipment would be depreciated over many years in a well-known and slow-moving competitive environment.
Then along came VoIP and the market shifted into high gear. All of a sudden customers wanted more services and they wanted to spend less money for it all. Competition seemed to come from every direction with crazy “woohoo” ads from companies like Vonage and more sober ads from the cable companies.
Even worse, the wireless companies began to take share making it that much more difficult to pay for the massive iron sitting in central offices worldwide.
Just before VoIP became popular, new architectures such as CompactPCI and later Advanced TCA emerged allowing service providers to benefit from technologies being popularized in the enterprise and consumer markets.
As voice becomes a cheaper and cheaper commodity, service providers must look for other services to replace lost revenue. TV and time-shifting technology are a few ways of accomplishing these goals and of course all the elements of the triple, quadruple and quintuple-play can be added into the mix.
I sympathize with carriers because there are virtually infinite ways to generate revenue. The question service providers need to answer is what infrastructure is needed to handle these services? For example, AT&T is now streaming Pandora radio and is using this service to compete with satellite radio.
The way to deal with the challenges faced by today’s service provider is to ensure you have the infrastructure in place to handle virtually anything. Who knows what tomorrow’s services will be. Will service providers provide IPTV with embedded smell-over-IP allowing viewers to really immerse themselves in the viewing experience?
One way to be prepared for anything and everything is to ensure you have cost-effective yet reliable infrastructure which allows your organization to expand rapidly while maintaining flexibility to provide tomorrow’s anything over IP services.