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NPN (New Public Network)
Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.
The "new public network" or "next generation network" as it is sometimes called, is the convergence of the PSTN (public switched telephone network) and the Internet (or at least Internet-based technologies) into a new network that is a packet-oriented, multiservice (voice, video, data) network. Its most defining feature is that it should provide the same level of guaranteed service for voice on a packet network that the PSTN provides on a circuit-switched network. The NPN is essentially the Internet with full support for voice and video and backward compatibility with the PSTN.
The development of this new network is being driven by a need to move beyond the centralized control of communication services that the carriers now hold. Deregulation is pushing the telecommunications industry to move to a model that is based on open market competition. In addition, customers are demanding new services, and competitive carriers are supplying them. Packet-switched networks are based on the concept of intelligent end devices that run any application the user chooses. This is counter to the PSTN model, in which the end devices (telephones) are dumb and the network is smart. Packet networks will eventually disrupt the 100-year-old phone system. In the meantime, the old and the new must coexist. One thing the telephone network has going for it is high availability. It is available 99.999 percent of the time, which translates to 5 minutes of downtime per year.
The NPN is a merging of the best features of the PSTN and Internet. It has the following characteristics:
The ability to create new services at end devices is perhaps the most important feature of the NPN. The telephone companies offer a relatively limited set of services, such as caller ID and call waiting. These services are configured within the carrier network itself. If you want a service, you request it from the network by pressing buttons on the keypad. For example, you press *69 to have the carrier redial the last person that called you. Think about it. With the PSTN, the 12-digit keypad is your user interface. On the Internet, a Web browser is your interface. Which would you rather have?
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.