NGN: Future Networking

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The traditional thinking is that only telcos and telecom service providers are responsible for next generation networks (NGNs). But the fact is that NGNs would have an impact on the enterprises and their LANs as well as their WANs. Moreover, wireline as well as wireless services are booming, both in the narrowband and broadband environments, and users are demanding seamless connectivity between different networks. This has given rise to the need for a universal network to support voice, data, and video (triple-play services) over a common network, which is typically called the next generation network. NGNs start making sense when voice, data, video are all in IP format.

What Makes an NGN
Basically, the core network should have a common service delivery architecture, with any access network hanging off the core. Some important service characteristics for NGN would be: ubiquitous, real-time, multi-media communications, more personal intelligence, more network intelligence, more simplicity for users, personal service customization and management. While some of these services can be offered on existing platforms, those that can only be offered on NGNs will benefit from its advanced control, management, and signaling capabilities, enabling a much broader array of service types, such as specialized resource services (provision and management of transcoders, multimedia multipoint-conferencing bridges, processing and storage services), middleware services (brokering, security, licensing, transactions), application-specific services (business applications, e-commerce applications, supply-chain management applications, interactive video games) and content-provision services (electronic training, information push services).

Points To Ponder

Issues to be kept in mind while planning for NGN deployment

  • Latency (delay)

  • Jitter

  • Bandwidth

  • Packet loss

  • Reliability

  • Security

  • Inter-operability

Next generation IP networks or NGN IP will be the key enabler of mobility and convergence. With NGN IP at the core, enterprises are not only sure they have a network that runs voice, data, and video, but also ensure seamless connectivity between their wireless and wired networks. This would mean that convergence would not just be limited to wired networks. WLAN too can run voice, data, and video. NGN IP would foster mobility in other ways too as it would be the key enabler of secure remote access of corporate networks by telecommuting or traveling employees.

Combine the enterprise NGNs with the NGNs that telecom service providers are deploying, and NGN IP becomes the hottest technology on the horizon and the most potent weapon that would transform the way organizations work and do business. NGN IP would help organizations achieve new levels of enhanced productivity, reduced operational costs, increased operational efficiency and better overall profitability. Some in the service sector like banks and BPO companies are already experiencing these gains. NGN IP would also support new levels of personal mobility, allowing for seamless integration of fixed and mobile networks. And, for enterprises it helps to scale their network architecture and prioritize bandwidth usage, and reduce network management complexities.

Undoubtedly, increase in data requirements has brought forth the rolling out of NGNs, but it is voice that would be the primary driver. According to estimates, in an NGN environment, almost 60–70% bandwidth would be reserved for data, and as voice would be on the same pipe, it would come almost free. With no additional costs for using voice, the usage of voice services would increase. And it is voice over IP (VoIP) that would be the killer application for NGNs. In India, VoIP has been allowed only in a limited way. It remains to be evaluated exactly how much the VoIP traffic would go up once it is opened up completely. But definitely, once enterprises start rolling out NGNs, VoIP has to be opened up.

Indian Scenario
In Indian enterprises, NGNs are not likely to make inroads before 2007–08. However, already existing unified networks would ultimately develop into NGNs. This makes clear that NGN roll out would not mean an end of the legacy networks. While enterprises wait and watch for the technologies to prove themselves, markets to mature, and standards to be set, service providers are sitting with their fingers crossed. The small and medium business houses are potential markets too. However, it is the MNCs who, having already seen the benefits of NGN elsewhere, would be the first ones to adopt it in India.

Gyana Ranjan Swain

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