Ron Resnick (
Wed, 27 May 1998 15:36:49 -0400

Am I alone in thinking that the move of AT&T to IP is a Big Story (BS)?
As big, perhaps bigger, than all the tedious "MS is swallowing
the world" stories?
Or is it just a different BS acronym that we should invoke here?

This is no li'l carrier or PTT that is being converted to the
ways of routable packets - this is the big Momma Bell herself.

This article raises the traditional cautions usually raised
when people suggest the unthinkable -that the voice substrate
could actually rest atop packets. Namely, network reliablity,
quality of voice over IP, capacity & scaling, etc.

Personally, I think all those issues are ultimately soluble.
It takes engineering, and we're nowhere close today, but
it's getting there. "The reliability
issue", increasingly, will take center stage as we discover
that we _can_ route isochronous over packets with the same
timeliness that we switch voice through TDM circuits. But reliability,
too, has technical approaches - we just need to start taking
them seriously.
As Werner Vogels noted in a dist-obj thread on Internet2 some time back,
any attempts to "fix" the packet substrate that don't squarely
focus on reliability, are missing the mark. Let's see if AT&T
is the kind of player to address this.

No, I think the real open question when old-style players
like AT&T claim to be reborn as IP enthusiasts isn't technical -
can the network be built, can it handle it. Rather, the open
question is primarily cultural. Execs at the top, and key
people throughout the org, may "get" it. But to countless
network planners,
NOC engineers, and assorted technical folks drenched in careers full
of voice telephony, just a press release saying "IP!" isn't
enough to make it so. Everything they know, they believe, they
feel comfortable with - is based on 8KHz sampling and slicing.
That doesn't change just because you open a spiffy research
center in Menlo Park.

Interesting note at the end - "Sprint, on the other hand,
is committed to ATM, according to a representative."
Sean Doran, of course, is long gone from Sprint.