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No Dial Tone: Are You Ready for the Transition?

In my most recent post, "Don't Get Caught in a Straightjacket of Costs," I cautioned about what happens to organizations that become myopic and miss out on taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by technology. Nonetheless, you won't hear me proclaim the death of PBXs, DOS, MySQL, or what many others would consider to be ancient or archaic systems and platforms.

Enterprises of all sizes use obsolete solutions simply because they keep their organizations running. Whether the reason for doing so is due to cost, operational issues, complexity, lack of vision, or whatever else doesn't really matter. Timing is key for any business, and when a company does make a decision, hopefully it can act on it in a beneficial manner.

PSTN Ponderings

I've been thinking about this in relation to the PSTN, having read this recent quote from Steven Johnson, president of Ingate Systems: "Every service provider is committed to eliminating the PSTN by 2020. This is an opportunity for resellers, and is one reason the adoption rate of SIP trunking is accelerating."

Herein lies the challenge: The PSTN isn't dead yet, but it certainly has a very limited lifespan. The delivery of dial tone doesn't happen without some effort. Comcast supports voice services over its broadband infrastructure, and already offers 10-Gbps services here in south Florida. AT&T has its U-verse service with "GigaPower," delivered over fiber and offered in bundles using fiber, DirecTV (satellite), and cellular telephone service. Verizon does the same with fiber and cellular services.

Resistant as businesses might be, a change in how they use the PSTN is quietly creeping up on decision makers. SIP trunk adoption in the SMB market maybe slower than within large enterprises, but growth in fiber deployments and Comcast's DOCSIS 3.1, for 1-Gbps delivery over existing network infrastructure, will continue to make high-speed services available to more customers.

Many SMB's will soon face more choices coming out of infrastructure improvements than they've realized possible, especially since bandwidth availability is improving. And even though plenty of solutions would allow them to adapt old TDM gear to IP, many will find themselves caught in that straightjacket of costs about which I've previously written.

Taking Advantage of Technology Change

Infrastructure is and will remain key because this is what connects businesses to readily available cloud services, including dial tone. The disparity in service levels occurs with unnecessary disruption on the local infrastructure. Older solutions, including adapting TDM, are for the short term, and, as I wrote previously, not all changes in services are rewarded with a cost benefit. Companies must look for cost benefits but they can't remain static in their positions on voice services with the expectation that "things will just work out."

The need for process improvement isn't exclusive to large enterprises, and yet it eludes many smaller organizations. With a hardened infrastructure, a company of any size should be able to exploit the technology and take inventory of what systems and resources it's previously relied on and then assess whether these silos are able to migrate to the Web. Point-of-sale systems and many proprietary solutions already are or will become targets of obsolescence and doing business in the cloud will make more sense.

Adapting to change isn't always easy, but the end of the PSTN isn't the end of modern man -- rather it's an incredible opportunity. Agility is key, as are the resources in place. No dial tone means you're not listening... but hear this now: The opportunity of migrating off the PSTN will be greater than the cost in that it will position your organization for process improvements and cloud services delivery.

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