Future Telecommunication System Solutions
By Christina Thomas
Wide Area Networks
Table of Contents:
What is a Telecommunication System? Page 3
History of Telecommunication Systems Page 3
Telecommunication Systems in use today Page 4
Improvements needed to Current Systems Page 4, 5
Why these improvements are important
Cell Phones Page 5, 6
VoIP Page 6, 7
Significance of these Solutions
Cell Phones Page 8
VoIP Page 8, 9
Summary Page 9
References Page 10
What is a Telecommunication System?
A telecommunication system is defined as ‘a communication system for
communicating at a distance.’(1) The main telecommunication device is the telephone. The telephone is comprised of five major hardware devices the ringer, receiver,
transmitter, switch hook, and dial pad. The switch hook establishes a connection to the
central office. The dial pad is used to tell the central office where you want the call
routed. The ringer notifies a person of an incoming call. The receiver receives and
converts signal for the person to hear what is being communicated. The transmitter
converts the analog signal so that it can be transferred to its destination. Once you have
established a connection you transfer the signal (your voice) over a dedicated line to the
other person. The distance from you to the person you are calling determines how many
offices the signal must travel through before it reaches it’s destination. Today we use wires, satellites, towers, undersea wires, air, and telephone offices to send these signals.
History of Telecommunication Systems
Telecommunication systems have existed for centuries. Some of the first
telecommunication systems were smoke signals, drums and semaphores. In 1832 the
telegraph was created, it was the first electrical telecommunication system. During 1876
Alexander Bell created the telephone. The technology of the hardware has changed but
the overall design is still the same.
Telecommunication Systems in use today
Today we have many options with telecommunication systems. We can use the
Internet, home telephones, and cell phones. Since they were invented our home telephones have become more reliable, cordless, and global. The analog signal, your voice, travels to the local exchange office in your area. If the call is to someone outside your local area it is routed to the main exchange office. The call is then routed to the appropriate destination. If the call is international it may also require the use of satellites or undersea cables. Cell phones have made it possible to talk with more mobility. These phones work by using the air as their transfer medium. The signal goes from the phone to towers. It travels from the towers to a mobile exchange. At this point it is similar to a line-based telephone call. The Internet uses Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP changes analog signals into digital data that can be transferred over the Internet. This is a relatively new technology that has the potential of replacing our current system.
Improvements needed to Current Systems
The telecommunication systems we have today are extremely more reliable then
they were 100 years ago. However, there are still several areas that need to be improved. Anyone who has ever used a cell phone can attest to that. It is why so many companies advertise that they are more reliable. One example is the statement made by Cingular’s ‘Less drop. More talk.’(2) They claim to be able to provide better quality service in more areas than their competitors. The cell phone quality has vastly improved in the last ten
years, but they are still not the same quality as a line-based telephone. Another area that needs improvement is VoIP.
Why these improvements are important?
The quality in cell phones needs to be improved to make them a more effective
communication device. If you cannot understand what is being communicated it is a waste of time and effort. Cell phones are supposed to make communication mobile and more reliable. If you are unable to understand the person communicating with you it has lost its reliability. If you are unable to get a signal it has lost its mobility. If someone has a cell phone they expect it to work when they need it. If there is an emergency and the cell phone fails to work properly it is useless. People depend on these
telecommunication systems to operate correctly. At the very least it is annoying for the device not to work as indicated but it can sometimes be tragic. This is demonstrated in the comment made by AG Reilly, "Cell phones are a staple in our society now. People rely on them for a variety of reasons ranging from business to personal safety, and the companies that provide these wireless services will now be held to a higher standard."(3)
One way to increase cell phone quality is with antennas. They would act as the antennas on the phones do but wouldn’t be directly attached to the phone. Antennas are
smaller than towers and they could be placed on buildings and in areas were a tower is not feasible. The antenna would act as an amplifier to boost the signal and increase its ability of getting to the nearest tower.
Another way to improve cell phone transmitting is by creating an international
standard, similar to the one in Europe. A standard would make it possible for the cell
phone user to get a signal from any location that the standard was supported. This would
require the government to pass a law requiring all cell phone companies to use
Why is improving VoIP important. The headline read ‘Mother Blames Baby's Death On Failed 911 Service.’(4) In March 2005 Cheryl Waller called 911 because her 3?-month-old daughter Julia had stopped breathing. She made the call using a phone
with VoIP. She was connected to a recording stating that the sheriff’s office was closed.
She had to go to a neighbor’s house that had a line-based telephone to call 911. Her daughter died because help could not be reached in time. Incidents like this have led the
FCC to pass a law requiring all VoIP providers to offer 911 services to their subscribers.
On cell phones and line-based telephones calling 911 routes the call to the nearest
emergency dispatcher. According to the FCC, ‘The ability to access emergency services
by dialing 911 is a vital component of public safety and emergency preparedness.’ (5)
The biggest issue facing VoIP providers for providing 911 is the mobility of its
services. Since VoIP calls are made using an Internet connection the caller can be
anywhere they have access to a computer. This makes it hard to pinpoint their exact
location. One solution is to have the VoIP providers implement an automated system
where the 911 calls are routed to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point PSAP. When
the subscriber called 911 the VoIP provider would verify their location through GPS, bluetooth beacon, or the caller could manually enter it. The call would then be routed to the nearest PSAP. This could be a problem if someone tried to abuse the system by writing malicious programs making prank VoIP calls. However, the system could have a cross checking mechanism to determining any 911 calls that originated from the same location redundantly. The location would be determined by physical location and by the caller’s subscription number separately. So even if the abuser were mobile it would meet the criteria based on the subscription number. If the program were viral in nature affecting the computers in a certain location it would meet the criteria based on location. For example, if the same call originated from the same source 10 times it would be automatically sent to an operator for a physical determination of authenticity.
Another possible solution is a dedicated line to the VoIP office to route the 911
calls. The caller would dial 911, which would route the call to a continuously operated call center. Where dispatchers would briefly establish the nature of the call and the location. This could be done through several different types of locating technologies. The operator could also try to establish the location verbally. Another possibility is installing a module (6) into the connection devices used for service. They could require these modules to be mandatory to receive service. For example, modems of some type are still needed to connect to the Internet. These modules could be installed into modems, and the phone adapters currently used by VoIP providers. After the operator establishes the location they would then route the call to the closest 911 office.
Significance of these Solutions
Cell phones are being more widely used everyday. With the increase in cell phone activity the importance of a standard way to use them has also become more important. Setting standards will increase reliability and quality, while reducing the overall cost. Antennas would also help to increase the performance of cell phones. By boosting the signal increasing the probability of it reaching the nearest tower.
We have already lost the lives of several people due to the lack of an adequate 911 service for VoIP. VoIP has the ability to become the next generation of telecommunication systems. It offers the ability to videoconference for businesses and provides an affordable alternative to line-based telephone providers. Given the potential VoIP has to completely replace line-based systems we need to design solutions that will enable it to offer the same grade of service. One of the most pressing areas that need to be improved is emergency service access. The ability to use 911 with VoIP is more than just a matter of performance. It is essential.
Since 1968, when 911 became the official number of emergency services, people
have come to rely on it. During an emergency people are usually not thinking rationally. You need a system that is full proof for getting help in these situations. VoIP providers are now being held accountable for providing this service. They need a solution to the
issue of providing 911 to their subscribers. A switchboard type mechanism of routing the call to the nearest emergency dispatcher would alleviate that need. Hopefully, saving lives in the process. In addition, the government could upgrade their switch to have a local VoIP inlet for VoIP subscribers.
Telecommunication systems have evolved tremendously in the past 100 years. It used to take weeks, sometime months, for a message to reach it’s recipient. Inventions
like the telegraph and telephone made it possible to reach someone in a matter of minutes. With the invention of cell phones and the Internet we have been able to make this technology not only fast but also mobile. However, we still have many areas that need to be improved. The cell phones of today need improved reliability. Increased reliability will come at a cost of higher rates, but it will offer a better grade of service. VoIP is another telecommunication system that needs to be improved. It is a relatively new technology that has several areas needing improvement. In the future, it will almost certainly replace the current telecommunication system. We need to set standards for this technology so that it is a safe and effective way to communicate. One of the most important areas of concern is personal safety. We need to establish a system for VoIP that allows it to directly connect to emergency services. This needs to be a standard for all VoIP providers as it is for our current line-based carriers.