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February 22, 2007

VoIP Driving SBC Market, Says Report

Ever-increasing demand for VoIP services is accelerating the growth of session border controllers, according to a study by Frost & Sullivan.
The market research firm’s report, titled World Session Border Controller Markets, projects sales of session border controllers to grow from $123 million in 2006 to $220 million by 2009, falling later to $163 million by 2013.
According to the report, demand by businesses and consumers for VoIP service is dictating the use of more SBCs to control and manage voice calls. New standards, such as IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) required to support advanced applications such as IPTV (News - Alert) and wireless services, will spur growth in this market.
Security is also a concern for carriers and session border controllers provide essential functions to protect a network from attack, the report said.
"Carriers are increasingly turning to SBCs as they require a dedicated device to protect critical equipment, such as softswitches and media gateways, from denial of service (DoS) and other attacks," said Frost & Sullivan strategic analyst Shirley Hunt. "The next-generation infrastructure market is also largely driven by carriers' focus on reducing costs to provide high profit-margin services using IP equipment."
SBCs enable peering between IP networks, thereby allowing customer traffic to pass through many segments of a network in order to connect to its final destination. SBCs help at these border connections to manage the sessions for security and quality control, translate protocols if necessary and provide seamless service connections.
These border controls are flexible enough to easily configure for different technologies. Integration of VoIP and wireless services on a variety of platforms following the IMS architecture is creating avenues for market growth.
According to the report, the growing need for high-speed high-capacity sessions and security border devices is increasing the demand for stand-alone SBCs. With multimedia and wireless traffic adding enormous loads, networks require these devices to help handle various applications without degrading quality of service (QoS). They can also manage the session end-to-end, including the signaling and media QoS.
The report added that major SBC vendors are acquiring cross-industry companies to help complete their product lines, stimulating substantial growth of the SBC market.
"However, standalone SBC vendors are facing competition from major multi-function equipment vendors," explained Hunt. "Several major stand-alone SBC vendors have been acquired by gateway and router vendors, who then incorporate the technology into their own products such as media gateways and routers, eliminating the original product."
Some SBC vendors are responding by creating products that will fit into gateway and router equipment, such as blades or software installed on a platform, which can allow them to effectively market their product by becoming a partner, rather than a competitor, to the major equipment vendors, the report noted.

Cindy Waxer is a Toronto-based freelance journalist specializing in business and technology. She has written for publications including TIME, Fortune Small Business, Business 2.0, Computerworld, Canadian Business, and Workforce Management. To see more of her articles, please visit Cindy Waxer’s columnist page.


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