Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Network Convergence For The Smaller Business

Convergence has been a hot topic for medium to large enterprises the last few years. Basically, convergence is all about consolidating networks. It's a form of technical merger. By combining multiple independent networks into a single unified communications network, you should wind up with an easier to manage, easier to deploy, and hopefully lower cost of operations network infrastructure.

In most cases, what has been driving convergence is the move toward enterprise VoIP. Business networks are usually grouped into voice, data and video. Voice has been the telephone system with analog or digital handsets, PBX switching systems and twisted pair telephone cable. Data has pretty much standardized into IP based LANs interconnecting workstations and servers, with T1 or T3 WAN connections to the outside world. Video security has been analog based cameras, recorders and switchers, although videoconferencing has been an extension of the telephone system.

Now that VoIP standards and equipment are mature enough to convert the telephone system to the same network transmission standards as the data LANs and dedicated Internet connections, the notion of having one converged network managed by a single IT department with common cabling to all locations starts to make economic sense. But that's for the big companies with their big staffs, thousands of phones, racks full of servers, and hundreds of miles of plant wiring. Isn't it?

Actually, the idea of convergence is also a potential cost saver for even the small business operators. Here are some examples of where it makes sense.

Many business that started out with just a desk and a business phone line now have maybe a dozen lines, a PBX or KEY telephone system and broadband Internet access. Did you know that there is a digital service that combines these networks for you? You might not even have to replace any equipment. The service I'm referring to is called Integrated T1. A single T1 line can support up to 24 separate phone lines or, say, a combination of 12 phone lines plus broadband Internet access. The carrier provides you with an Integrated Access Device that makes the split and connects the phone service to your telephone system and the Internet access to your network router.

Another approach to convergence is to use your 10 Mbps Ethernet or 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet LAN to handle both your computer equipment and telephones. In this case, you keep the LAN network you have now but add more bandwidth if you need it for your phones. You buy VoIP based telephones, including an IP PBX or Virtual PBX Service. This is an especially popular solution for business locations that either need a big upgrade in capacity due to growth or are in the construction phase. Your connection to the Internet is by a dedicated T1 line or bonded T1s for more capacity.

What approach to convergence makes sense for your business? If you have a something larger than a home office, our business telecom specialists are happy to discuss the options, including Integrated T1 telephone & Internet or T1 dedicated Internet access. Just put in a request by phone or online form.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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