I have recently started using both a smartphone and a tablet device for Internet access. Like millions of other Internet users, I have discovered the wonders of mobile applications that provide everything from the traditional Internet services (e-mail and web browsing) to specialized software that can pinpoint my location on a map, provide live currency-exchange calculations, give weather forecasts, and my favorite: play radio stations from all over the world. I am old enough to remember the orange glow from pre-transistor vacuum-tube radios, so having a customizable "world radio" in the form of an "app" on a smartphone seems almost like science fiction.
But radio is not the only traditional service that is now available over the Internet. Another prominent example is telephony or Voice over IP (VoIP). Not only is VoIP replacing traditional land lines in many places, the original circuit-switched telephone network is itself increasingly using VoIP technology in place of an infrastructure of land lines and dedicated switching equipment. An important aspect of traditional phone service is the notion of special numbers for emergency services. Such systems rely on a database of phone numbers and addresses that allow emergency personnel to dispatch responders to the correct location. This location identification becomes a lot more complicated if the caller is using an Internet-based calling service rather than a hard-wired telephone. The IETF has been tackling this problem in the Emergency Context Resolution with Internet Technology (ECRIT) working group. Our first article, by Hannes Tschofenig and Henning Schulzrinne, is an overview of the architecture this working group is developing.
According to the ITU-T, a Next Generation Network (NGN) is "…a packet-based network which can provide services including Telecommunication Services and is able to make use of multiple broadband, Quality of Service-enabled transport technologies in which service-related functions are independent from underlying transport-related technologies." Paul Veitch, Paul Hitchen, and Martin Mitchell describe the integration of a standalone core BGP/MPLS VPN network into an NGN architecture.
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