Speaking Clearly with ATM: 
A practical guide to carrying voice over ATM

by The ATM Forum




Given the commercial pressures facing any network operator, there has been a continuing drive to reduce operating costs and lift network efficiency. ATM is one of the principal tools in the network designer's armoury to achieve these goals.


ATM allows the statistical multiplexing of traffic over any network resource. Statistical multiplexing avoids the need to pre-allocate resources for a user, but allocates resources on-demand, providing bandwidth to users when, and only when, they need it. This allows the network to support more users (typically twice as many as a simple TDM network).


However, to succeed an ATM network must be able to integrate traffic of all types into this single integrated, statistically multiplexed stream. This means handling that most testing of traffic - Voice. The transport of voice presents the network with a number of technical challenges; these must be successfully managed if the network is to provide an effective voice transport mechanism.


Today, through the work of the ATM Forum and its members, these issues have been addressed and it is possible to build and operate an ATM network to meet the needs of many types of voice application.


This paper looks at the requirement to carry voice over an ATM network, the technical challenges to building such a network, and the solutions that have been developed.


Today, it is possible to build an ATM network to meet the VPN voice needs of a corporation, or the backbone transmission needs of national voice network, or to support a national cellular network, or provide international voice transport. This paper also analyses the differing requirement presented by each type of application.



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This article is supplied via special arrangement with our partner, The ATM Forum


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