|Issue:||North America 2005|
|Topic:||The new world of voice|
|Title:||Executive Vice President, Network Planning and Engineering|
Chris Rice is the Executive Vice President of Network Planning and Engineering for SBC Communications. Mr Rice oversees the Network Planning and Engineering Group and SBC Laboratories, Inc. Before his current position, he was responsible for defining SBC’s enterprise-wide technology direction, new technology introduction, platform development and network regulatory matters. Mr Rice has also served as Vice President of Network Engineering for SBC Southwest and SBC SNET, as Vice President-Network Planning and Engineering for SBC Internet Services, and in a variety of other management positions in network operations, network engineering, network planning, project management and outside plant operations. Mr Rice began his career with Southwestern Bell Telephone in toll switching systems and network operations. He later joined Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) and then served as Vice President-Network Planning and Engineering for Southwestern Bell Messaging Inc. Mr Rice was awarded one Texas Synergy Award for the Interdepartmental Showcase and another Texas Synergy Award for Addison 1 AESS to DMS-100 Conversion. Mr Rice received a BS in Engineering Technology from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
The Internet Protocol has created a revolution in communications by enabling the delivery of voice, data and video services through a single broadband pipeline. The convergence of networks has made it possible to access all types of communications from any available device. Unified messaging services for voice, faxes and email, seamless and ubiquitous interactivity between fixed and wireless networks while on the move, and a consistent experience whenever, wherever and however one communicates are the hallmarks of this communications revolution.
Emerging Internet Protocol (IP) technologies are bringing new communications choices and capabilities to consumers. IP technologies allow voice communications to go beyond the dial tone to integrate with a full range of communications and entertainment applications. In the very near future, a consumer’s telephone, television and personal computer could very well be the same device. Today, consumers still want reliable, high-quality voice service, but increasingly, they also want communications devices, such as wireless phones, computers and PDAs, to work together seamlessly, effortlessly, along with their traditional voice service. They want continuous access to information, no matter the format. And they want a consistent, personalized communications experience no matter where they are–at home, at work or on the road. IP is the key to making this new world of communications a reality. IP enables the delivery of a wide range of services–voice, data, video–through a single broadband pipeline into the home or business. At the same time, traditional wireline and wireless voice networks and services are continuing to evolve and expand. Ultimately, we are moving to converged IP networks–integrating wireless and wireline products, and making it all transparent to consumers. IP makes integration and seamless connectivity possible because it is a universal language used for sharing information between devices. IP enables integration of services in a way that most other technologies cannot. It’s safe to say that IP platform services are among the most substantial technological advances in telecommunications in 100 years. When everything is IP-based, everything works together. The power of IP is that it allows providers to deliver video, voice, data and other applications over a single network connection. Services are accessible and can be shared via any number of IP-enabled household devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes, PCs, PDAs or phones, and the result is that features can be used, updated and synchronized across different services and different devices in real time. An untethered society Society has become irreversibly dependent upon the ability to stay universally and instantly connected. Users have grown accustomed to, and expect to be, constantly on and connected to their job, family, and friends, the latest news, and the world. This demand and reliance will only increase as technology advances respond to and anticipate user needs. To date, communications technology–and our dependence on it–has limited us to juggling an armful of separate devices with separate applications. Wireless technologies have removed many boundaries, and the industry is continuing to develop all-in-one devices that incorporate multiple functions. However, the nature of our communications is still dictated by the technology–the devices and their capabilities. Once products and services are truly integrated, everything changes. Devices and home electronics work together. Data provided via one service (like an incoming phone number over a voice service) can be accessed and used on another service (such as caller ID displayed on a TV connected to the Internet). With this model, communications are built around the consumer, instead of around the technology. The transmission of voice, video, data and wireless over the same network makes these advanced features and functionality a reality. Consumers will be able to use their voice, video or data services anywhere, anytime, and on any device–simply and seamlessly. When technology no longer stands in the way, advanced services, integrated applications and ubiquitous connectivity can bring unique and beneficial changes to society. For example, for the elderly or immobile, faster broadband connections will mean a chance to videoconference through their televisions with doctors or loved ones. For those who can’t travel to college, it will bring distance learning more effectively than ever before possible. It will allow working parents to remotely monitor their children at a daycare centre or home. As this technology becomes available to small businesses, it will also help employees to be more productive and nimble. The power of integration This next era of integration ushers in a truly digital lifestyle for consumers. Simplified and customized communications that deliver anywhere, anytime communications are more than mere connections; they will integrate technology into our lives to a degree never before possible. To take full advantage of voice, video and data services, consumers must be able to tap the fastest IP connections available at a given time or location and to conveniently access their personalized content and communications services. The following are some of the enhanced features and functionality IP integration can enable: √ Unified Messaging–providers are rolling out integrated messaging services that connect wireline and wireless voice messages, faxes and email into a common mailbox. Consumers can now have a centralized messaging depot for retrieving, forwarding and replying to voice messages or email via a landline or wireless phone or device. The mailbox is accessible anywhere an Internet connection is available or via any phone; √ Interactivity–technology is becoming increasingly versatile, adaptable and responsive to the individual consumer. With next-generation IP video services, consumers will be able to select their content, rather than watch what is pre-packaged and delivered to them. Some planned IPTV service will include video on demand, interactive programme guides and event notifications. Voice over IP (VoIP) uses IP technology to deliver the benefits of traditional telephone services together with multiple enhanced features made possible by a broadband Internet connection, including a Web-based portal with advanced call-management capabilities such as “find me, follow me” and “do not disturb”. This new level of interactivity and customisation will make it easier for consumers to manage their communications and busy lifestyles; √ Remote Access–enhanced personalization and control will extend beyond the home. With wireless remote access, consumers will be able to initiate or programme digital video recording from their mobile phone or device to ensure they catch their desired show even away from their living room; √ Seamless Mobility–in the future, consumers will be able to use one device and move freely between cellular, Wi-Fi and corporate Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) environments for any of their voice, data and Web access needs, with a seamless hand-off from network to network. Eventually, only a single handset will be needed for both wireless and wireline IP voice service, further simplifying and enhancing communications. Integrated service packages for travelling professionals already provide virtually anywhere, anytime access, via a laptop computer, to corporate email and data networks, as well as to the Internet. Through a virtual private network, Wi-Fi access and wireless broadband network, users have secure connections to corporate networks. In the near future, these users will be able to easily connect to the highest-speed network available and seamlessly switch to other available networks as they change locations. Another future application is VoIP over Wi-Fi, which would allow voice calls to transfer between the Wi-Fi network and the cellular one without interruption. For example, a voice conversation that began on a cellular phone in a car could be automatically switched to the home Wi-Fi network upon arrival. This will not only provide the “best available” quality of service, it will also use fewer minutes of cellular airtime and reduce the customer’s bill at the end of the month. √ Consistent User Experience–Customized, personalized, applications will help the user easily navigate these integrated communications systems from any access point or device according to his own needs and preferences. No matter what wired or wireless device the consumer is connected to–be it television, a PC, a mobile phone or PDA–personalized portal content and the user’s preferences will be available to meet his specific needs. For example, a single, synchronised address book will be universally accessible from the user’s mobile phone, computer and PDA. A typical day With all that is now possible, or will be in the near future, communications becomes a natural and integral extension of everyday activities and our concept of a typical day changes. For example: A customer watching the morning news on television gets an early phone call. The caller ID is displayed on his TV screen so he can decide whether to answer without going to the phone. Before heading to work, he needs to check his email, but since his laptop is elsewhere he accesses and views his email on his TV screen. Later, he meets a new business contact and enters the contact information in his computer’s address book. Later, on the road, he decides to call the new contact. The contact information he entered on his computer is conveniently available on his mobile phone. When he gets to the parking lot, he remembers he wanted to record tonight’s episode of his favourite reality TV show. Using his mobile phone he accesses his DVR’s remote control and sets it to record the show. He flies to a business meeting and needs to find a copy centre as soon as he gets off the plane. At a Wi-Fi hotspot, he logs on and uses a local search engine to find a nearby location to make the copies. At the business meeting, associates ask to see pictures from his vacation. He accesses the photos from his mobile phone and shows his colleagues. Today’s vision takes consumers beyond the voice-defined conception of communications to encompass a broad range of connections and applications. Integrated communications erases the lines between voice, video, broadband and wireless, and facilitates a new level of anywhere, anytime, seamless, personalized access.