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BT's Adastral Park has been selected as the European test site for a set of global IP telephony interoperability tests. The exercise, organised by the Multiservice Switching Forum (MSF), is designed to demonstrate the commercial readiness of next generation IP services and technology.

The Global MSF Interoperability (GMI) 2004 event is due to take place between 4-16 October. Test centre labs located in North America, the UK, Japan, and Korea are due to participate in the event. Each will be connected by live network facilities, creating a realistic global test environment.

The exercise will begin by testing basic point-to-point voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) within a single service provider's network. Test set-up will then increase in complexity as value added services (including video), connectivity to the public switched telephone network (PSTN), and direct connectivity between two VoIP carrier networks are attempted. In each scenario, requirements that are critical for real-world deployments such as security, quality of service (QoS), routing, and network management, will be demonstrated.

The tests (technical details here) are designed to allow vendors to demonstrate that their latest networking kit is ready for prime time.

Phil Holmes, chief technology officer at BT Exact, said the tests are important in validating the technology that will underpin BT's its 21st century network (21CN) programme, a scheme to transform the monster telco’s business.

"An early deliverable of this transformation is the first phase of the migration of services from the existing UK PSTN to a multi-service internet protocol based network which will carry both voice and data services. This phase will take place in 2006. Events such as GMI testing are therefore very important to BT because VoIP is going to be at the heart of our transformation so it is crucial to us that systems are interoperable. We believe that the work undertaken by the MSF is beneficial not only to us but the ICT [Information and Communications Technology] industry as a whole."

IP telephony services were initially sold as a way for smaller businesses to save telecommunications costs by using data networks to make telephone calls. As the market has matured IP telephony services aimed at corporates have come on stream but SMEs remain a key customer segment in an expanding market.

Internet telephony will make up 12 per cent of all telephony revenues in five years time, according to a recent study by analysts Juniper Research published. Juniper reckons the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) market will contribute $32bn, out of a total telephony market worth approximately $260bn, by 2009. ®

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