Mobile Backhaul, Next-Gen Switching: Taqua Takes the T7000 in New Directions

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  March 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of NGN.

Taqua (News - Alert) built its name selling Class 5 replacement solutions to tier 2 and 3 service providers. It still does that today, but now the company taking the T7000 Intelligent Switching System in new directions. The company is leveraging its popular solution to address converged switching and wireless backhaul – and it’s going up market in the process.

Frederick Reynolds, vice president of marketing, said the T7000 is unique in the flexibility it delivers. The product, which is based on a switch-on-a-card architecture, achieved popularity as a TDM-based CLEC/RLEC Class switch replacement. Taqua then added IP to the product. And now it’s bringing mobility and other new features into the mix.

As Payam Maveddat (News - Alert), executive vice president of product management, noted, Taqua is all about migrating legacy to infrastructure to IP. As a result the company is keenly focused on VoIP, video over IP and other session-related applications, as well as wireless applications, including fixed/mobile convergence and mobile backhaul.


Convergence (News - Alert) Switching

TDM to IP migrations continue to accelerate, he added, and one element of that acceleration has to do with IP peering. Taqua recently won a big contract to deliver its next-generation convergence switching solution to a very large peering company, Maveddat said.

The convergence switching solution was created by adding a new card and some new software to the T7000. This product – which can sit at interconnection points between enterprise and service provider networks, or between different service provider networks – is noteworthy due to its very high-capacity switching, resiliency, and wide range of transcoding capabilities, explained Maveddat.

Initially, the product (which is available now and carrying commercial traffic) is being used primarily to help deliver VoIP applications. But it also can support video, which is growing in popularity in the enterprise; SIP-based messaging, which will require peering; and authentication and authorization for converged 4G mobile applications, said Maveddat.

NGN Magazine mentioned that AT&T and BT (News - Alert) recently came out with the first inter-carrier telepresence solution and asked if that kind of thing might be a good example of how Taqua’s convergence switching could be used.

 “That is the perfect example of what we will be doing very shortly,” Maveddat responded.

He added that service providers won’t want to negotiate with every small carrier for video peering, so they will use this kind of solution to enable more inter-carrier solutions of this nature.

Wireless Backhaul

Taqua also recently unveiled a T7000-based wireless backhaul solution, which it announced in June.

The Taqua W-Series of Non Line of Sight Backhaul Systems are small cell site backhaul products that employ the underused, inexpensive TDD spectrum. Deployed in clusters of up to six, small cell sites are connected to the Taqua Remote Backhaul Module via Ethernet. Each  RBM backhauls wireless traffic to a Taqua Hub Backhaul Module. The HBM is connects via Ethernet to the carrier’s existing backhaul network and can be located at a macro site or anywhere connectivity is available. 

The wireless backhaul equipment market has become a crowded one, but Maveddat said that Taqua brings something special to the table because its solution is not based on fiber, microwave or Wi-Fi, as are so many other offers out there. Instead, Taqua’s solution – aimed at backhaul for femtocells and picocells – is based on proprietary and non-line-of-site technology and leverages licensed spectrum in the 2- to 3.5-gHz band.

“What’s happening in the world is that macrocells are just running out of capacity, and you have reached a point where you can’t add large towers cost effectively anymore,” Maveddat said.

As a result, wireless network operators are deploying in-building femtocells for wireless offload and outdoor picocells, to add cellular capacity and fill coverage gaps. That means more cell sites. However, Maveddat said that only a portion of those small cell sites will be reachable with fiber-based backhaul.

Where fiber isn’t available, another option is to use microwave for backhaul. But Maveddat said microwave is a very high-capacity, high-power solution and requires direct line of site, so may not be the best match for backhauling traffic from smaller and highly distributed radios. Wi-Fi is a second wireless option for backhaul, he added, but it has limited range and can result in network contention.

Taqua’s wireless backhaul solution, meanwhile, is very high capacity (up to 60mbps), supports guaranteed QoS and doesn’t run into interference issues because it operates in licensed frequencies, he said. The product, which will sell for between $5,000 and $10,000 per line in volume, is targeted at large mobile operators with lots of capacity issues.

As noted earlier, this solution can also be used in femtocell scenarios. Taqua is working with Cisco (which has tapped Taqua to provide its gateway, media gateway controller and media server for the femtocell solution) to bring this offer to market. Cellcom (News - Alert) of Wisconsin is among the service providers that are currently using the joint solution, Maveddat said.


A Bit of Background

Maveddat and Peter Allen joined Taqua in the fall to help expand the company’s next-generation convergence switching and wireless backhaul solutions. Maveddat, who has also worked with Mavenir, Tekelec, Nortel and AT&T Bell Labs, handles product line management for all of Taqua’s convergence switching and RF backhaul products.  

Allen, who is responsible for Taqua’s wireless backhaul business development and operations, has been involved in six early stage startups, including four as a founder. Most recently he was the founding CEO of PulseWave RF, a fabless semiconductor company.

Meanwhile, vice president of marketing Reynolds, who mentioned at the top of this story, has been around since the early days of Taqua.

The company has seen a lot of changes over the years, but it’s been pretty consistent as far as its product line and focus on profitability.

As an organization, Taqua is 12 years old. However, in 2005 it was bought by Tekelec in $95 million. GENBAND later bought the Tekelec switching division, of which Taqua had become a part, and around the same time Taqua bought its way back out and became a private, stand-alone company.

Four years have passed since Taqua began its second life as a singular company. It’s been cash-flow positive for about three of those years, and although it did use some private equity to refuel, “we didn’t need that much runway to get going again,” said Reynolds.

Although the company and its investors may consider doing some acquisitions along the way, the organization – in which every employee owns a share – has no aspirations of going public or getting bought.  

“It’s kind of old school,” said Reynolds.

There’s no school like the old school.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi