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Unified comms comes alive with UFB

11 Oct 2012

By now, the concept of unified communication is familiar to most New Zealanders, even if they don’t call it that.

That’s because a good smartphone contains all that is necessary to enable email, SMS, voice, data and video communications.

But there remains one major limiting factor, not only for consumers, but also for businesses looking to take further advantage of consolidated communications. Bandwidth.

While connectivity in this country certainly isn’t bad, it’s also not as good as it can be. This is set to change, and dramatically, with the gradual introduction of ultrafast broadband. The industry is a little obsessed with UFB because it is such a game changer for any sort of services delivered from the cloud. Unified communications is most definitely such a service.

At Orcon, we are convinced the UFB rollout will boost businesses into a new realm, as they embed new services into their day-to-day operations.

With these services, the bottom line is that the better the connection, the better the service works. It means better productivity, and better staff engagement from those who can then truly tele-work. It also means extending most services to their full potential while also giving more businesses access than ever before.

The limitations of copper connections are not just speed, either. There are at least three other factors which afflict copper, but which are absent from fibre.

The first is reliability. As with voice, a ‘usable’ video communication session cannot suffer from any latency or other ‘noise’ without quickly becoming frustrating and an impediment to good communication. This happens over copper – it does not over fibre.

The connection is exponentially more reliable – once up, it stays up, without any of the capriciousness that defines copper connections.

The second is the degradation of service which is experienced over a longer line. Internet users who have lived rurally or who have businesses outside major centres will be familiar with the problem of ‘being too far from the exchange’.

Distance is an issue because signal quality deteriorates the longer a copper wire is. Not with fibre.

The third factor concerns the ADSL services which are familiar to most businesses today (especially the smaller to medium sized companies). They might be fairly flash on download speeds, but they are slow on uploading (hence ‘asynchronous’).

Where high-bandwidth applications are being used, and certainly the voice and video components of unified communications fall into this bracket, quality is impacted by the limitations of copper.

These may seem peripheral issues confined literally and figuratively to the edge of the network or to specific users.

However, until fibre is experienced, most customers are simply unaware of how much better the connection can be – and the services that such a connection can bring to life.

The sheer capacity afforded by a UFB connection means everyone in the office can have unified communications on the desktop - even in the main centres. That means the ability to contact clients and co-workers by the best means possible, be it voice, video, or email.

A new wave of innovation

The government is investing in the UFB network which continues to become available to more New Zealanders every day. The connections are available to 65,000 premises now, with 150,000 more premises passed by fibre cables by July next year.

What this means is that a new wave of innovation can be expected.

You will see connectivity bundled with additional services, among them cloud-based backup and restore, something likely indispensable to any business (and now viable given the tenfold increase in upload speeds which comes with UFB).

Also among these services are unified communications offerings. The power of the cloud, combined with the power of a substantial connection, makes it astoundingly inexpensive to provide advanced services combining all modes of communication.

What once cost a mint can now be put on the desk of every employee.

As UFB is rolled out, it is fair to say no-one really knows exactly how it will stimulate innovation, or exactly how the new services will change the business landscape. However, what the internet has surely proven beyond a doubt is that when there is more capacity and more speed, truly amazing things happen.

Today, we’re anticipating the ability for everyone to eliminate the barriers of distance with video, voice, data or text communications. And underpinning that is the enticing raw power of the UFB network.

By: Andrew Crawford, Orcon Head of Business Development