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Leading Telecom Technologists Join Forces to Get a Handle on Convergence
|10 июня 2008|
Convergence. The word has been batted around the telecommunications and cable TV industries for years. More than a decade later, it’s still unclear just what it means. However, top technologists from leading telephone companies now are working in earnest to define convergence and address the standards gaps around it.
“Convergence has a new urgency,” said Susan M. Miller, president and CEO of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), a U.S.-based organization committed to rapidly developing and promoting technical and operations standards for the communications and IT industries worldwide.
Recognizing the “urgency to deliver full convergence in a consistent and standardized manner,” the ATIS Technical and Operations (TOPS) Council in August 2006 formed the Exploratory Group on Convergence (EGC). The EGC developed a convergence road map document. Work based on that report moved into committee toward the end of last year and currently is ramping up.
“ATIS has 22 different committees,” said Miller. “So the work that was identified in this [convergence] road map has been moved out into real standardization efforts within the committees. That is ongoing right now. This work was just moved out early in the fall last year, and we’re already producing standards that address the component parts of the report.”
The ATIS committees working on convergence cover a wide variety of topics — from network equipment issues to things like billing and OSS — to provide “an end-to-end view,” continued Miller.
Miller said ATIS knows it’s on the right path with its standards work on convergence because the group has interfaced with all its counterparts around the globe, such as IEEE and ETSI. “We’ve gotten feedback that no one’s looked at it at the layers that we’re looking at it,” she said.
Exchange recently spoke with Miller and ATIS Board officers/top industry technologists AT&T’s Chris Rice, BT’s Matt Bross, Qwest’s Pieter Poll and Verizon’s Mark Wegleitner about this convergence effort and why it’s happening now.
ATIS is considering both network convergence and applications/service convergence. The idea is to provide the industry with a common approach by which to collapse multiple networks and service silos, and make services access- and protocol-agnostic. That is intended to produce capital and operational savings at the telcos while enabling them to bring new services and packages to market more quickly and efficiently.
“A rationalized set of standards in the convergence space will provide opportunities to improve how quickly we can build things, get them to market and fix them,” said BT CTO Bross. “Simplification and reusability are key drivers for BT.”
Before this ATIS work, “convergence was a cloud,” said Rice, AT&T Inc.’s former CTO, who’s now executive vice president of Shared Services.