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Are You Still On TDM? You Could Be On Death Row

In the world of VOIP and IP Telephony/IPT, there is a turn in the tide. Do you see it, hear it, feel it?

It is the turn of the industry from VOIP being a casual “look” to an essential component of the business technology infrastructure. It is the turn in the tide from the days of VOIP quality and issues to a stable, vibrant technology environment. It is the R&D investment by all Telecommunications CPE manufacturers and carriers in IP - period.

These industry changes are creating major shifts in the market. No longer is Telecommunications looked at as a commodity market, selling and buying on price alone, with little-to-no consideration for technology or services. Major shifts in how we use basic telephony are taking place at the core level. Mobility and remote worker acceptance are examples of this shift. Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity are essential, critical components in the organization’s business plan, and VOIP integrates well to this corporate strategy.

As technologies mature, so does the emphasis on cost savings/cost reductions. No longer is VOIP only a vehicle to reduce costs of a current traditional TDM telephony or WAN environment. It is the technology replacing traditional TDM at the root level. It is no longer considered “new” technology - issues that were prevalent in VOIP systems just a few years ago have been stabilized. Telecom Departments are now under the auspices of IT and not Facilities; Telecom is now a function of the IT infrastructure.

VOIP is a data technology and therefore the rules of the data world now apply – some of those areas include:

  • IP addressing schemes (both static and DHCP)
  • NIC cards
  • Cabling infrastructure
  • UPSs and HVAC requirements in local closets
  • Ethernet and Ethernet switches and routers
  • Voice as an application on the LAN/WAN
  • VLANs
  • Network Management Tools that support both voice and data
  • Security requirements
  • Software subscriptions and associated costs


    For “mature” TDM systems, external forces are at work, forces you cannot control. They include:

  • Manufacturer Discontinuance of Systems in Place – For systems that have been manufacturer discontinued, spare parts are refurbished and are increasingly becoming less available. These include, but not limited to, older releases of:
  • Avaya’s Definity G1, G3, and Dimension systems (yes, there are still a few Dimension systems out there),
  • NEC’s NEAX 2400 HDS and ICS, and 2000 IVS,
  • Nortel’s Meridian Option 11, 21, 51, 61 and 81 (depending on Version and Release),
  • Mitel’s SX-200 and 2000 and Intertel Axxess non-supported systems,
  • Siemens ROLM 9XXX Series,
  • Alcatel’s Omni PCX 4400 (depending on Version and Release),
  • Astra Telecom’s legacy Intecom systems,
  • Fujitsu PBX systems,
  • Toshiba’s DK, Strata, and Perception products.
  • Systems need to be “currently supported” in order to get proper support for maintenance contracts and engineering support at the manufacturer and VAR levels, which equates to risk to the enterprise user’s system(s) that is not currently supported. To get systems “currently supported” by the manufacturers and VARs in many cases requires a major investment, forcing the enterprise user to “throw good money after bad”, and in some cases could require several million dollars. These costs only represent an upgrade/replacement of core equipment, and typically do not include any station/desktop equipment (leaving the end user experience unchanged).

  • Capacity Issues with Current Systems and Associated Costs - Systems that are near/at capacity are difficult, at best, to add capacity for additional trunk or station cards without major software and hardware investments. Some capacity increases cost up to 40% of what it would cost to replace the existing system with a new one.
  • Consumer-Driven Requirements – Consumer-driven technologies are creating new requirements for Campus (common in University, Healthcare, business campus environments, and even Hospitality) and City (urban) environments.
  • Threats to campus environments and the ability to respond quickly and leverage communications to key personnel and all consumers or employees, i.e., Virginia Tech,
  • Mobility, SMS and texting, IM – flexible, instant communication are expected and driving integrated applications.
  • Lesser-to-No Investment by Telecom Manufacturers in Traditional TDM Voice – All manufacturers are systematically investing in resources and applications for VOIP and no longer in traditional TDM. This essentially spells the end of TDM as we know it today,
  • Systems Age - the age of the systems (7 years or more as a baseline) can be a clear indication of the deterioration of support for parts and technicians. Enterprise customers will receive manufacturer notices that all parts supplied are refurbished and are manufacturer discontinued and are no longer supported. Parts unavailability over time becomes critical. Updates are unavailable for upgrades, bug fixes, patches of older systems.
  • Fewer Trained Resources – Fewer and fewer technicians have the knowledge and skill sets to support older, mature systems – over time such expertise wanes considerably. Technical/engineering resources available from the manufacturer erode over time as well.
  • Risk of a Multi-Day Outage Increases – Based on the age of the systems and increasing number of outages and issues over time, the state of the systems in place poses greater risk to basic communications services. An outage, in some cases, could last several days. How would your organization communicate in the event something like this happened? How would it function? What risk(s) would this pose to the safety of the staff and community at large?
  • Newer systems added onto older system to solve capacity issues – Creates a more complex maintenance environment.
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