Iï¿½ve been very encouraged lately, as the Internet telephony
market seems to be enjoying a tremendous revival. What excites me the most
about the companies I have been in contact with is that customers are
buying. For years we have seen VC s pump money into companies and in the
last few years cut them off abruptly. Now, many of these companies, whether
they sell to service providers, OEMs or enterprises are doing well.
Mooreï¿½s Second Gift to VoIP
In my recent travel I have come across many companies in the space with
great stories to tell. For example,
Trinity Convergence is an
embedded software company focusing on VoIP development using a non-DSP
approach. Simply stated, processors are so powerful nowadays that they have
more than enough horsepower to handle VoIP applications. Mooreï¿½s Law has
been a wonderful ally on the road to Internet telephony using traditional
DSPs. The cost of DSPs and the resource boards that hold them have been
falling for years and densities have increased exponentially. Mooreï¿½s Law is
now allowing DSPs to be sidestepped altogether by using the excess capacity
of the primary processor as a resource. This approach saves money, shortens
time to market, reduces power consumption, increases battery life (where
applicable), and reduces size.
Using their Vericall Packet Telephony Framework, Trinity Convergence allows
OEMs to leverage media processing, packet processing, data transport, system
management, telephony signaling, and gateway control. Open APIs allow
developers to use proprietary algorithms such as echo cancellation if they
so choose. There are four units to this architecture:
ï¿½ The Media Engine -- performs media and packet processing.
ï¿½ The Signaling Engine -- deals with PSTN-based signaling.
ï¿½ The Administrator -- a system controller based utility, which acts as the
control plane interface into the gateway application.
ï¿½ The Conduit -- acts as an inter-module communications interface.
One of the hottest trends lately is to VoIP-enable everything from cell
phones to WiFi phones to SOHO-based broadband gateways. These consumer
devices must be cheap, consume small amounts of power, and be brought to
market rapidly. This is exactly the space Trinity Convergence plays in with
their Vericall Edge Architecture. A variety of codecs and embedded SIP are
built-in as are packet-handling capabilities with an adaptive jitter buffer.
Expect Beta units by December 2003 and general availability by Q1 2004. One
last commentï¿½ This solution is silicon agonistic, which means OEMs can be
more flexible with their processor choices. Some of the processors supported
are as follows: MIPS32, ARM 9e, Intel Xscale, and Motorola PowerQUICC.
Softswitch Take 2
Seems like just yesterday we first began to extol the virtues of the
Softswitch. Can you believe it was over four years ago? In softswitch years
thatï¿½s a generation, and that means some company needs to invent the
second-generation softswitch. That is just what
Telica has claimed to do with their
Plexus Unified Services (PLUS) Architecture. The company tells me that many
of their service provider customers werenï¿½t happy with the previous
generation of softswitch products -- they didnï¿½t want these devices based on
Sun Netras. Additionally, many carriers are
looking for a Class 5/Class 4 switch on the same platform. Finally, they are
looking for softswitches that can handle multiple applications and truly
In response to these challenges, the PLUS architecture is purpose-built with
processor cards that plug into a chassis. Up to seven cards and seven
standbys can be inserted at once. The system can scale to 7.5 million busy
hour call attempts, which is seven to nine times greater than many first
generation products. With this architecture you can comfortably support
There is a great deal of flexibility and (so I am told) cost effectiveness
as well-meaning smaller carriers could look at this type of solution. The
pieces can be moved around to combine a media gateway and signaling
controller in the same chassis. Wondering about services? Well you can use
the PLUS architecture to provide hosted IP PBX service as well.
They have tested their media gateway with softswitches from a number of
companies including VocalTec,
Alcatel, and others.
The bottom line here is that Telica wants you to know they have a solution
for most any size service provider with the ability to support open
standards and interoperability -- all at an affordable price.
When it comes to packetized voice processing,
Legerity is one of the leaders in
providing voice interface IC solutions for analog line cards as well as
voice over broadband applications. The company is a spin-off from
AMD and they specialize in high-voltage
technology from 50- to 350-volt products.
They partner with TI and
Broadcom and supply components to many
IADs and set-top boxes. Legerity can help readers get an edge over their
competitors by leveraging their expertise in the latest mixed signal
technologies as well as their ability to simplify line interface problems.
A few years back I had a chance to meet with
Octasic, a fabless semiconductor
company developing ASICs in the VoIP space. More recently they have evolved
into developing integrated media gateway modules that can be used in VoIP as
well as VoATM. These modules feature coprocessors developed by the company
and their solutions can be found in a number of carrier class products in
the industry today.
The companyï¿½s OCT9320/OCT9360 product line has numerous features that
equipment providers will find useful such as echo cancellation,
conferencing, T.38 fax, spectral comfort noise (a recreation of background
noise from the source without the need to continually transmit it -- very
pleasing to the ear), and adaptive noise reduction. The modules can support
densities of up to 1,008 channels. The former is specifically designed for
G.711/ADPCM designs where voice quality is more important than bandwidth
savings while the latter is designed for low-bit rate codecs such as G.729
The Continued Growth Of IP Centrex
When we look back at IP Centrex in the future, we can thank companies like
Longboard for helping to get this
category established in a meaningful way. Recently the company worked with
NTT Data in Japan to provide IP Centrex to Tokyo Gas Company, consisting of
about 20,000 users! This was accomplished with Longboardï¿½s Multimedia
Application Platform or LMAP, an application server that works with
SIP-based endpoints and allows Web-based provisioning and billing
The flexibility of the system can be seen in the hoops Longboard had to jump
through to develop a service acceptable to the very particular Japanese
palate. As the Japanese hate voice mail, hunt group technology had to be
much better than IP Centrex would have to be in the U.S.
They are looking for truly large service providers worldwide to sell this
service around the world. Think of Longboard as an application software
provider helping service providers differentiate themselves by offering
profitable enhanced services such as IP Centrex and others. Some of the new
applications are Voice Chat (an application that combines presence,
conferencing, and messaging) and OnePhone, which allows the same mobile
device to access the cellular and WiFi network allowing traditional cellular
telephony or WiFi telephony. All of these services can be mixed and matched
allowing IP centrex features on a WiFi telephony handset, etc., all on the
same platform. If you are a service provider looking to differentiate
yourself or an integrator looking to sell to service providers, contact the
company for details.
Bordering on the Future of VoIP Security
Jasomi Networks has been a player in the
session border control market for some time now, helping VoIP travel through
firewalls and negotiate NAT issues through the use of their PeerPoint
solution. The company also allows media to be encrypted over networks or
portions of networks that are insecure. They are also able to deploy
intrusion prevention to make sure that your VoIP solution is not an
invitation to hackers to visit your network.
One of the areas of growth for the company is financial services where
multi-layer security is a must as are complex compliance issues. For this
market and others Jasomi has introduced mid-call media encryption allowing
calls to externally called parties to be encrypted mid-stream. Another
feature is the ability to log all media streams and call signaling and
finally SOCKS5 proxy support. Jasomi has further announced that they can
also encrypt signaling and media streams from Cisco IP phones using their
PeerPoint SIP to SIP gateway and session controller with Cisco Cat6k
switches. Finally the company announced that they would provide network
boundary traversal for Microsoftï¿½s
Live Communication Server, basically allowing all the things that Jasomi is
known for to take place over Microsoftï¿½s enterprise real-time communications
Reaping What You Sow
News at Sonus is of the financial
varietyï¿½ They recently raised $135 million and find themselves sitting on
about $300 million in cash. They are also proud to reiterate that their
customer list now includes Verizon as
well as Qwest,
Deutsche Telecom, and
NTT Japan. As they grow they
will be looking for higher value customers and the cash should come in handy
in that endeavor. I mentioned at the top of this column that I am seeing
tremendous success in the market. Case in point: On October 8, Sonus
announced their first quarterly profit while sequential revenue grew 34
percent; this is 285 percent over the prior year!
Who Would Have Believed It?
A few years back I met with executives at AT&T
who told me that they would roll out a VoIP service. So many people told me
that VoIP would be the death of AT&T. While it certainly has definitely
squeezed margins, it looks like AT&T is going to be a major player in the
Aimed initially at businesses in the U.S., and in 40 countries in 2004, the
company will use their Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)-based network,
which uses class of service traffic management to provide enterprises with
voice -- delivered securely, reliably, and with high quality.
There will be four classes of service, unified billing, and on-net calling
to over 40 countries. This announcement of course builds on past
announcements detailing support of various IP PBXs. As their softswitch has
integrated PBX signaling they are able to use their PSTN gateways in
network. They can also help IP PBX vendors with a hosted model by placing
these devices in their cloud.
One of their differentiators is their close relationship with Cisco. They
see the market for small to medium enterprises as ripe for this type of
hosted service and as such can help these organizations migrate to IP
I asked about the future of AT&T in a world dominated by VoIP. The future
will be network middleware. They will be able to terminate IP calls from
cable companies, WISPs and any other service provider throwing their hat
into the IP telephony ring. Expect to see third-party applications on their
network as well as some of their own applications. Weï¿½ll see various
interfaces with security as well.
This is a good time to be deploying IP telephony. The companies are more
stable than ever, the kinks are worked out, and the technology and the
standards are stable. Many of these VoIP companies who thrived on novel
business plans alone now have products and customers who are paying real
money for these solutions. Now is the time to jump into this market if you
have been waiting on the sidelines. These technologies are real. They work:
Theyï¿½re driving service provider revenue and saving enterprises money. And
who can argue results like those?
Comments? Send an e-mail to
Rich Tehrani or respond in our
To The November 2003 Table Of Contents ]