In the mid-1980s NEC introduced CCIS — Common Channel Inter-Office Signaling — for networking PBXs together. This allowed users at remote sites to enjoy all the benefits of the telephone system, including industry-specific customized applications, even though they were not directly connected to a centrally located PBX.
CCIS was based on the telephony standard SS7, which allowed out-of-band call control signaling. CCIS did this and more; it also passed the messaging necessary for the PBX-to-PBX networking, which allowed the PBXs to communicate with each other and provided the rich set of common features to users at multiple sites. The result - more efficient and cost-effective teamwork.
By the early 1990s a new transport networking technology called Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM, see Data Networking) was bringing into prominence the notion of converged networking. The idea was simple yet compelling. An enterprise's data network was completely separate from its voice network, and both of these were distinct from its video network, if required.
Why not run both (or all three) across the same network? This kind of network integration offers savings on several levels:
- Pay for one backbone infrastructure instead of two (or three);
- Pay for network management of one network instead of two or three;
- Pay for one group of technical personnel instead of two or three.
The extraordinary proliferation of the Internet during this same time period generated the widespread use of the Internet Protocol (IP) for data transport. The "seed" of convergence planted by ATM was nourished by IP which subsequently gave birth to the ideal of IP Telephony:
Ship all voice traffic and its requisite signaling across the same IP packet network as data traffic in order to realize the cost savings of convergence.
In anticipation of IP Telephony and the migration to packet switching, NEC in 1997 introduced Fusion Call Control Signaling (FCCS), which delivers even more multinode feature transparency than CCIS, but does so via packet switching rather than Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), the technology of traditional telephony. This put NEC in an ideal position to offer the transition to IP Telephony as a migratory evolution rather than as a forklift revolution. This evolutionary path is one of the major elements contained in NEC's Enterprise Open Network — NEON.
Another element under our NEON promise is our commitment to deliver these solutions in an Open network. An open network means a multi-vendor network, and to enhance such a network NEC supports a growing list of Q.SIG features and services. Q.SIG is the popular name given to a set of global ISDN Private Networking standards that allow different vendor systems to inter-operate and deliver a common set of transparent features.
But the promise of NEON calls for adding value to an open network. Thus, we have added the capability to transport CCIS call control and voice channels over Q.SIG network, maintaining a higher level of NEC's feature transparency even as the multi-vendor network is built around and among the CCIS nodes. Yet another element of NEC's commitment to Communications without Compromise.