14/06/2005

Rivals \'could beat BT\' in the next-generation game - ZDNet UK News

Rivals \'could beat BT\' in the next-generation game - ZDNet UK News

The article is related to the ADSLguide one about IP infrastructure and rolling-out all IP networks.

This article goes on about Softswitching and implying it's the best thing since sliced bread. Well it may be.

In a regular telephony switch (like a System X) there's a bunch of intelligence that knows how to handle phone call set-up, call routing etc. and some line cards that actually connect to things and move calls around. It can run out of capacity once the CPU runs out of steam (i.e. it cant handle call processing anymore) or it physically cant handle any more calls through its interfaces.

A softswitch modularises things, you run the call intelligence on some CPU (which is "normal" hardware i.e. Sun servers or equiv) and you splash media gateways around the network. The media gateways interface with legacy PSTN or handle trunking etc.

Why? Because it costs much less to build IP packet networks, than legacy TDM networks (about 40%). Softswitches are also scalable, run out of CPU and you just add some more. Need more PSTN interfaces, add some more media gateways.

However it's not quite as easy as it seems. Softswitches do have lots of functionality, but they are bits of telecoms kit. Say someone wants to launch a VoIP service, just having a Softswitch doesn't give them anything but a platform to build something on. It then gets complicated as web interfaces, provisioning, billing and everything else that telcos take months to actually get working have to be built (if they have the resources to do it in the first place). They may well install a Softswitch just for the cost savings without launching any sexy services on it at all.
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