by Matt Villano

Beyond VoIP

Mar 15, 20042 mins

In the business world, there is the VoIP of today. At the Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center at Texas A&M University, there is the VoIP of tomorrow. Through this facility, Cochair of ITEC’s Internet2 Voice Over IP Working Group Walt Magnussen spends his time and government money developing future voice-over-IP technologies. “The working group is focusing on VoIP reliability issues, interoperability testing and potential disaster recovery capabilities of VoIP,” he says, adding that “many of the capabilities that we are now testing will soon be standard product offerings.”

In the meantime, Magnussen and his colleagues are studying new aspects of VoIP. One project revolves around a recent open-source protocol dubbed Session Initiated Protocol (SIP), a signaling protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force. As Magnussen explains it, this new protocol is a hybrid of traditional HTTP and simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) that transfers data even faster than the current H.323 protocol standards in place today. Primarily used for VoIP, SIP also works for video or any other digital media type. According to Magnussen, enterprise customers will most likely use this technology to deliver services such as videoconferencing and remote blackboarding over VoIP down the road.

“In the last few years, there was debate over whether H.323 or SIP would win out,” says Magnussen, who is also director for telecommunications at Texas A&M. “Here, we are already preparing for the next phase?SIP will win.”

The group is also looking at VoIP’s role in disaster recovery. “Much of the Working Group’s disaster recovery efforts began after technologists at Columbia University were able to make calls out of New York City on Sept. 11 using the Internet2 network and VoIP,” he says. “This began some work that looked at the possibility of routing calls around congested telephone networks in disaster situations over reliable packet-based networks.”