Carriers and service providers have united around the concept of the Next-Generation Network (NGN). Although leveraging a broad basket of Internet technologies, the NGN is not being planned as the next-generation Internet. In its intention and architecture, it is more accurately described as Broadband-ISDN release 2.0. The NGN is hard to understand because it weaves together so many distinct issues: technology, new kinds of product, a new kind of carrier organization as well as changes in the business model, industry value chain and the shape of a converged future industry itself. This book presents a unified analysis of the complex transformation process that is taking place in the fixed telecoms, mobile telecoms, and broadcast industries and outlines strategies for success.
Th is is not the fi rst attempt to build the Next-Generation Network (NGN). Back in the 1980s, when the carriers controlled innovation, they had come up with a wonderfully complex architecture for voice, data, and video services, called the Broadband Integrated Services Digital Network (Broadband ISDN). Th is architecture was layered upon a standard protocol called ATM—Asynchronous Transfer Mode—and those 53-byte cells were deceptively simple. All the real complexity was in the multiple adaptation layers, which allowed very diff erent services to be successfully adapted to and carried by the relatively uncomplicated ATM transport layer, and in the signaling required to make, manage, and tear-down connections.
As we all know, Broadband ISDN took years of preparation, as the standards bodies tried to design in every conceivable requirement before the standard could be fi nalized and equipment could be built. In the meantime, the Internet happened, using a good enough protocol which couldn’t do one tenth the things ATM was supposed to do. But the things it could do were what were needed back then, and it was extensible in service.
The current concept of the NGN is emphatically not the Internet. Th e NGN is in reality Broadband ISDN mark 2, leveraging Internet technologies. So is it all going to end in tears again? Hard to say—the NGN specifi cation roadmap is now in the hands of all the usual carrier standards bodies, the ITU-T, ETSI, ANSI, etc., and stretches out past 2009. However, unlike with ATM, the new NGN is leveraging protocols and standards that have some real-world experience behind them, and it’s tackling problems of multimedia service networking that we actually have. So it’s got to be in with a chance.