Monday, May 19, 2008

Landlines Flourish in Business

Consumers may be abandoning landlines right and left, but they are still alive and well in the business world. In fact, landlines are absolutely flourishing in businesses large and small. What sense does this make?

The wireless-only craze has not infected businesses the same way as consumers for a number of good reasons. One difference is that most businesses involve more than one person. More often than not, businesses have a business location where most of the business activity takes place or is controlled. Fixed locations with multiple users who all need to interact is a realm dominated by PBX telephone systems. PBX systems use landlines to connect with the outside world.

Now there are some caveats to this. You may think of landlines as being only twisted pair copper analog phone wires that connect a business location to the phone company central office. This century-old technology no longer dominates the business world. A landline now might be a T1 telephone trunk line that consolidates multiple business lines into a single digital cable. Up to 24 phone lines can be carried by a single T1 line.

An even newer landline technology is the SIP trunk. This is a packet rather than channel based technology that serves IP based telephone systems such as enterprise VoIP systems, including IP PBX phone systems.

Digital landlines can be used for both voice and data. SIP trunk lines often carry both telephone and broadband Internet traffic. So do Integrated T1 lines. Carrier Ethernet service over copper or fiber landlines can provide point to point network connections or multipoint LAN services over extended distances.

So, does this mean that wireless use is insignificant in business settings? Just the opposite. The BlackBerry device is almost part of the corporate dress code... even when there is no dress code. BlackBerry devices and other smartphones are integrated into the enterprise voice and data systems using something called fixed/mobile convergence. There is some thought that this may eventually evolve into all-wireless business networks, but that seems unlikely. Every time there is an incremental improvement to wireless technology, such as HSDPA or EVDO Rev A, there seems to be an even greater demand for higher enterprise network bandwidths. It seems that the solution is a system that will incorporate more wireless access points, cellular and IP wireless telephony, and Gigabit Ethernet connections.

The one exception may be the independent technical or sales professional who spends more time out of the home office than in it. These people have needs more like individuals than collocated teams. A cell phone or smartphone, perhaps with a cellular broadband enabled notebook computer and a stand alone toll free number, can provide all the electronic communications needed.

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