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New services, new applications, new profiles of clients, new networking technologies and new forms of communications, such as peer-to-peer, and media/content-to-person, are all driving the need for a converged all-IP network that can provide an "agnostic" layer between the service and transport layers. Designing and realizing such an IP-based network architecture require a through understanding not only of IP networking technology, but also the particular demands of delivering high-performance, real-time services in a way that maintains the telecom grade performance; which means high-reliability and high-quality of traditional telecommunications services. The talk reviews the main technical challenges that allow the network to evolve towards a telecom-quality IP-based network, and discusses the main research issues relating to that. Specifically, on one hand IP technology is the enabler of adaptive and flexible connectivity. Its connectionless structure, with its logical connectivity, provides new levels of scalability and manageability that can't be matched by the "hard-wired" connection-oriented links of legacy transport systems. Actually, the ability of IP makes a much-needed future-proofing, insulating layer between the services above and the diverse transport technologies below; especially when services and transport technologies are both evolving rapidly. On the other hand, the generality of IP compared with the more-tailored-made transmission technologies it is replacing, such as TDM and ATM, also presents challenges when migrating the often QoS-sensitive and critical applications on to IP. To avoid putting at risk existing revenue streams, the new technology must live up to telecom standards and deliver telecom quality.