In my last post, I talked about a planned speaking engagement at Internet Telephony Expo on the topic of "Is VoIP Dead?  Where does it Stand?"   The other panelists besides myself were Scott Navratil, VP of Sales and Marketing for Vitelity, a wholesale carrier, and Michael Khalilian of IMG - NGN Forum.  The panel was chaired by Matt Clark of Deloitte.  Our conclusion?  Voice over IP is alive and well, despite a variety of scary headlines have shown up in the telecom trade media over the course of the last few months.  

As in the case of the last economic downturn that affected telecom in the 2002-2003 timeframe, there are winners and losers in the telecom business near term, but the fundamental progression of carrier telecom network from circuit-switched technology to IP continues at a steady pace.  In fact, carriers still rely on rolling out VoIP infrastructure to produce cost savings, but as I've blogged previously here, much of the current energy in IP-based communications is tied to creating new revenue generating services.    

An example of a cool new Voice over IP application that we've seen recently is the addition of video content for a percentage of incoming calls that a media gateway receives.  In this case, if the video is detected through information contained in SS7 ISUP messages or other signaling approaches, then the gateway can shift into a clear channel mode and pass the video content via SIP and RTP to provide a video backhaul capability.  The destination could be another gateway which reverses the process, or a device such as a media server or video gateway which processes the incoming video for applications such as video mail.    In this way, the media gateway has added a new function to detect and package incoming video calls enabling a service provider to support a mix of video and voice calls coming in from the edge of the network and transport them via IP within the core of the network.  

So the next time you hear that Voice over IP is Dead, check to see who the source is and what they are really saying.  The world is not going backwards to build more circuit-based networks.  More IP-based infrastructure and services are being deployed every day.   If you don't already get VoIP based phone service in your home or office, don't be surprised if it becomes available to you soon, though it may be packaged under a different brand name.