Monday, September 19, 2005

BellSouth VON Keynote: An RBOC Dinosaur's Perspective

It would be a disservice to the industry to make the claim that VoIP networks survived Hurricane Katrina while other networks did not, said Bill Smith, CTO of BellSouth, speaking at VON Fall in Boston. All network equipment -- including VoIP gear -- needs electricity to operate, said Smith, noting that the loss of back-up generators due to the inability to refuel them led to many of the outages in New Orleans following the hurricane. Keeping the network running required armed convoys of trucks to deliver diesel fuel and water. Smith also noted that BellSouth has lots of experience dealing with hurricanes -- 22 hurricanes since 1992 -- but had not experienced anything like Katrina.

Smith said BellSouth is interested in VoIP for a variety of reasons. First, migrating away from Class 5 switches to an all IP network could drive hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings. Smith also sees VoIP as a strategic fit for driving fixed-mobile-convergence. Through its Cingular venture, BellSouth has been driving a first wave of wireless/wireline feature integration. The company is testing dual-mode Wi-Fi handsets (Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, LG and others) and anticipates a much tighter integration of wireline/wireless integration. He sees the IMS architecture as key to launching common applications over both networks.

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