Voice over Packet Networks / Edition 1

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Overview

One of the hottest topics in the telecommuncations industry today is the migration of voice traffic from the circuit switched Telco networks to packet switched networks such as IP, ATM, Frame Relay and access technologies such as DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and Packet Cable. The sheer volume of voice traffic, together with the efficiencies of packet transport and the opportunity to offer new features on voice calls, has made internetworking, between circuit and packet transport, vital while this migration is in progress.

Presents a concise treatment of a complex subject providing up-to-date coverage of all relevant packet voice technologies and an evaluation of how they compare
Explains how and why to transport voice over packet networks
Includes MEGACO: Media Gateway Control
Protocol, Voice over Packet Cable and Voice over DSL
Enables the reader to obtain information rapidly by featuring numerous bulleted lists and extensive diagrams

Voice over Packet Networks is comprehensive and compact and will be welcomed by both engineers and planners in the telecommunications industry, as well as graduate and senior undergraduate students on telecommunication courses.

Packet voice is when voice is digitized for transmission as packets. Packet Switched Networks, such as IP, ATM, and Frame Relay are data communication networks that transmit packets.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

David J. Wright University of Ottawa, Canada

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Read an Excerpt

1. Business Drivers for Packet Voice

Voice traffic is the largest single type of telecommunications traffic in terms of both bandwidth and revenue generation. It constitutes approximately 50% of all traffic on both public and private networks, and from the public carrier perspective, it constitutes 80% of the revenue. The migration of voice from circuit transport to packet transport has major consequences for service providers and equipment vendors, particularly those who have a significant investment in circuit switching. The aim of this book is to describe the technology alternatives for packet transport of voice and the business drivers that are bringing about this monumental change in the telecommunications industry. This first chapter focuses on the business issues, but first let us clarify the breadth of what we will be including in the term `packet voice'.

1.1 Packet Voice Defined

Voice is not just human speech. Voice is human speech plus dialled digits and also any fax and data that can be carried over a voice-band modem on an analogue twisted pair access line. Dialled digits are often used during the course of a telephone conversation, for instance for interaction with a voice messaging system, and are referred to as Dual Tone MultiFrequency (DTMF). Often the network cannot distinguish between the different types of traffic that it might receive from an analogue twisted pair access line and therefore it is important to include all of them in the concept of `voice'.

When voice is digitized, the codec that is used may itself packetize the voice or the packetization may be performed later when the voice enters a packet network. The standard for voice coding used in the circuit switched network is G.71 1 [1 ], which generates a constant stream of 64 Kbits per second which is not packetized. If this code is to be transported over a packet network, such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), it must be packetized at the edge of the ATM network using one of the ATM Adaptation Layers. A popular codec which does packetize human speech is 6.729 [2]. These are examples of the many ways of coding voice which are described in detail in Section 2.5. Voice codecs are designed for human speech. Some of them such as G.71 1 may be used for coding voice-band data or fax. Others such as 6.729 cannot, and the data/fax must be handled differently for packet transport as described in Section 3.1.

A major advantage of packetizing voice is silence suppression so that packets are not generated during pauses between phrases or silence from one person while another person is speaking. The bandwidth savings from packetizing human speech are approximately 60%. However, there are many other business advantages to be derived from packetizing voice which we now describe.

We examine the business drivers for packet voice:

  • first according to which part of the network is being used to transport the packet voice;
  • second from the viewpoint of which organization operates the network;
  • third from the viewpoint of the application that the packet voice is used for.

1.2 Business Drivers for Packet Voice in Different Parts of the Network

1.2.1 Public Network Backbone

The first business driver for packet voice is traffic integration in the public network backbone (Figure 1.1). Most public carriers have ATM and/or Internet Protocol (IP) backbones which were initially built for their data traffic. Migration of voice to the same backbone gives them efficient network management. Instead of having to have one set of engineers and managers to run a data network and another group to manage a circuit switched network, they can just hire one group of people to manage a single packet backbone network with a single network management software system. So low-cost network management is the business reason for transporting all traffic including voice on the packet network backbone.

1.2.2 The Access Network

Packet transport can be used for voice, video, and data in the access network (Figure 1.2), just as it can in the network backbone, but the business case for using packet voice on an access line is different from the business case in the network backbone. First the business case in the access network is for the end-user organization instead of being for the carrier. Second, the business case is based on bandwidth saving as opposed to efficient network management. 1f a corporate customer has a packet access multiplexer then they can transport their voice, video, and data on a single access line instead of having several different access lines for different services, e.g. one access line for Frame Relay, another one for voice, another one for leased-line services, etc. So less access lines are required if we transport integrated traffic on a single packet-based access line. The business driver here is reduced access costs, whereas in the network backbone the business driver was reduced network management costs.

1.2.3 The PBX/LAN

The Private Branch Exchange (PBX) used to be a single piece of equipment typically in the basement of an office building, connected to the telephones of the people in that office building. Now the PBX is becoming distributed. The box in the basement is analogous to a mainframe computer, the functionality of which can be distributed to servers. The distribution of functionality of the PBX is shown in Figure 1.3 including the following functions:

  • Gateway between analogue phones and packet-based Local Area Network (LAN).
  • Gateway controller for setting up calls between gateways.
  • Voice mail server.
  • Feature server.
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) server.
  • Web server for Web-based call centre applications.

We need a transport technology to interconnect these servers, and the traffic which needs to be interconnected is the voice, which the PBX is mainly serving, plus the signalling traffic and Web page traffic, which is data, plus emerging multimedia conferencing applications and unified messaging. Packet transport is therefor a natural choice for the technology to use. The servers and gateways can be connected to each other using LAN switches.

So the business driver for packet voice in the customer premises network is the need to transport voice over the same network that is used to transport Web pages, signalling, multimedia conferencing and unified messaging.

The business case for the distributed architecture includes the ability of vendors to specialize in one function, the ability of customers to build a multivendor LAN/PBX, and the reliability that comes from having redundant servers and gateways.

1.2.4 The Desktop

The main desktop technologies are IP and ethernet. Since both are packet-based, conventional telephony uses a separate network and wiring to connect the desktop telephone to a PBX or Centrex service. The business driver for integrating telephony with data traffic at the desktop is first, reduced PBX interface costs and/or reduced Centrex charges and second, the ability to use networked multimedia applications. The investment in ethernet interface cards can be leveraged to carry voice and video as well as data traffic.

1.3 Business Drivers for Packet Voice for Network Operators

1.3.1 The New Competitive Public Carrier

The new public carriers competing with the incumbent long distance telephone companies are often building their networks in a greenfield situation. They do not have an installed base of circuit switched equipment, and can install a single transport technology suited to all traffic types. Since they are typically providing virtual private network services to enduser organizations, they purchase packet switching equipment because they have a variety of traffic going over those networks - some voice, some data and maybe some video as well. So they have got a good business case for packet voice. Because it is a greenfield situation it is natural to transport the voice over packet transport since that is what is used for data traffic. The net result is reduced operating costs because they have only a single network to manage.

1.3.2 The Cellular Company

Digital cellular is a rapidly growing industry. Voice is transported in digital format over the wireless portion of the cellular network using standards which already packetize the voice and compress it so that when it comes to the wired portion of the network, the voice is already packetized (Figure 1.4). It therefore makes sense to use a packet technology in the wired portion of the network. Packet transport can also handle the data traffic which the cellular company needs to transport including their own Operations Administration and Maintenance (OAM) traffic, which needs to be sent over the wired portion of the network. In addition, wireless data applications such as short messaging and wireless Internet access can be transported over the wired packet network. So the first part of the business case for packet voice in the cellular network is the need to find a common technology to transport cellular company internal data traffic, customer data traffic plus packetized voice; packet transport is a natural choice. The second part of the business case is that because of the rapid growth of digital cellular traffic the cellular company is often working in a greenfield situation either because it is a new company building a new network, or because it is an incumbent carrier expanding its network because of the rapid market expansion. Therefore, much of the deployment is in a greenfield situation where the business case for packet transport is easier to justify as in Section 1.3.1...

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Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Introduction xv

Part I Voice Packetization 1

Chapter 1 Business Drivers for Packet Voice 3

Chapter 2 Quality of Service 15

Chapter 3 Distributed Network Architecture 43

Part 2 Packet Transport Technologies 67

Chapter 4 Voice Over the Internet Protocol 69

Chapter 5 Voice Over ATM 113

Chapter 6 Voice Over Frame Relay 155

Chapter 7 Comparison Among Alternative Transport Technologies 179

Part 3 Broadband Access and Network Evolution 187

Chapter 8 Voice Over Cable 189

Chapter 9 Voice Over DSL 203

Chapter 10 Network Evolution 217

Epilogue 231

Acronyms and Abbreviations 233

Standards Bibliography 239

Index 245

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Preface

This book presents the state of the art in packet voice. It is designed for readers who are studying and working in the forefront of the fast moving telecommunications industry. As such it is designed for readers who need information fast. The book streamlines its presentation of the subject matter by using the following techniques:
  • It is a short book. The phraseology is very concise. There is no fluff.
  • The format of the text uses extensive headings, subheadings and lists of points so that the reader can rapidly scan for the information that is relevant to their needs.
  • Diagrams are used extensively, since a picture often adds clarity to a concise textual description and since telecommunications is a visual subject. There is no point in understanding a technology unless it is related to a network diagram.
  • The style of writing is changed throughout the text from formal to informal and back to formal again, in order to provide the reader with some variety.

This book combines business and technology aspects of packet voice. It is primarily a technology book with about 20% of the content related to business issues. This is a balance that the author has found to be required by professionals in an industry which is primarily technology-based and where an in-depth appreciation of business issues must be founded on an understanding of the technology.

The book is designed to provide a bridge between circuit-based and packet-based tele phony.

  • For readers with a background in the circuit switched telephone network, it provides an introduction to each of the packet technologies in addition to describing how those technologies can be used to transport voice.
  • For readers with a background in packet-based data communications, it provides an introduction to voice coding, features and QoS requirements as well as showing how voice can be transported over packet networks.

The book is organized in three parts:

  • Part I describes issues related to packet transport of voice that are independent of the transport technology.
  • Part 2 provides a chapter on each of the transport technologies: IP, ATM and frame relay and shows how voice is transported in each case. A final chapter provides an executive summary comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each technology.
  • Part 3 uses the information from Parts 1 and 2 to describe how certain technologies can be combined to provide voice over broadband packet access networks.
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