Quadruple Play

(Last Updated On: March 14, 2006)

I know lately the focus has been on triple play (voice, data and video) but to some extent it is mainly a new name for convergence which has been debated on for more than 15 years now.

Convergence is something that has been discussed as way back as in the late 80s. There was the issue of digitisation and fibre optics, bringing about the promise of converging services and industry players. Often it was regulation that stopped this convergence happening sooner than later. In many other cases, it was a question of vested investments into legacy infrastructure.

I remember attending the World TELECOM’87 where digitisation, fibre optics and then ISDN was supposed to bring the reality of the Information Age the likes of which is talked about today. Then in 1988, the ITU Secretary General started ITU-COM’88 where the broadcasting, computing and telecommunication world was brought together under one roof. I still remember how perplexed people were as they did quite get why they were brought under one roof. In 1988, the World Adminstrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference in Melbourne helped put together the historic “Telecommunications Regulations� to deal with convergence. The ITU 1989 Plenipotentiary, there was talk of converging the ITU CCITT and CCIR (today’s ITU-T and ITU-R) and this was not well accepted as it was an idea before its time (and a political issue- number of positions open for each org).

World TELECOM 1991 showcased the dream of ATM bringing the Information Society to happen finally. In 1992, the World Telecom Development Conf came up with the GII (Global Information Infrastructure) concept mainly influenced by the advent of the Internet, which later at World Telecom 1995, was showcased as the advent of the GIS (Global Information Society- the precursor to the Information Society concept debated at the World Summit on the Information Society). The Internet was finally under a global telecom conf i.e. being taken seriously. As the Internet came to the commercial market in full force, TELECOM 95 and 99 began giving a new twist to this whole issue of convergence. Even developing countries without broadband or digital technology networks, faced convergence brought about by IP (streaming media at 28kpbs was possible even 7 years ago, 8kbs voice over the data network, etc etc). Meanwhile, however, cellular technology was also taking off in terms of broadband with 2G, 2.5G and 3G networks but few adopted IP over these networks.

Today, the focus is on Next Generation Network (NGN) and IP NGN the promise of finally bringing about convergence for all. What is exciting is today, apart from triple play ( a new term for convergence) finally happening, we are also seeing quadruple play (voice, video, data and mobile) coming together. Aside from new forms of broadband mobile networks thanks to Wi-Fi and Wi-Max, we are finally seeing mobile networks use IP as its “converging� infrastructure.

This now raises new issues- is IP built for scalability and robust networks -telecom backbones are meant to be or is it more of a last mile ocnverging technology IPTV and VOIP. This post is meant to be a very simplistic overview of the issue of convergence but just to start the ball rolling on the topic of convergence.

Attention was brought to my notice about a post from Geoff Huston on convergence. I will be taking sometime to read and respond to his very enlightening viewpoint on convergence. Check out http://www.potaroo.net/