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IP Telephony may finally be coming of age.

For example, take this week’s announcement of a $1.1 billion contract between Sprint and Nortel to replace Sprint’s Plain Old Telephone network with IP-driven switching technologies.

While on the surface this seems like a small deal, it is a significant turning point in IP Telephony’s coming-of-age story. This means that there is a business case for the wholesale replacement of old Time-Division Multiplexing networks by funky new IP-centric technology, and it will be replicated on a much broader scale by much larger carriers.

This deal in particular also signifies that, after leading a bold charge to next-generation networks, Cisco and others have been trumped by the old guard of Telecom. Sometimes slow & steady does win the race, or so it appears.