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Eager to roll out advanced networking services, carriers are juggling time-to-market with technology unreadiness. Guess which is winning?
The next generation of advanced intelligent network (AIN) standards, AIN 0.2, promises a more efficient, seamless way for carriers to provide multiple enhanced services from a single platform. The question is, will the industry make it to this next level?
The answer, inevitably, is yes. But timing is everything, and right now carriers face daunting obstacles - among them, uncertainties about business cases, standards and interoperability issues as well as difficulties integrating new AIN services with legacy operational support systems (OSSs). LECs also want to roll out services now, regardless of AIN's ability - or inability - to accommodate them. Opting for standalone platforms that won't integrate easily into the current network management or future AIN platforms, carriers are weighing time-to-market against future technology efficiencies. Guess which is winning?
"These carriers have a tremendous amount of pressures on them to deploy services," says Robert Patterson, telco sales engineering manager for Dallas-based InterVoice, which produces automated call processing systems. "They're not necessarily able to rely on the AIN architecture to get these services out right off the bat." Laurie Eurick, Lucent Technologies' director of marketing for North America, adds that while telco engineers are pursuing AIN 0.2 upgrades, the marketeers are pressing forward, telling vendors, "Get me the application the fastest way....I'll chunk it in as I need it."
But building an advanced-service network out of too many discrete "chunks" could end up being less cost-effective than upgrading AIN. Right now, carriers can deploy a separate platform for each enhanced service they want to offer, but can't integrate these platforms into a more efficient AIN network. Earlier generations of intelligent network standards could only support one service per platform, while AIN 0.2 will allow multiple services on the same platform for greater network efficiency.
"We're trying to quantify how much it will cost if we have separate …