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VoIP Feature Article


March 28, 2006

Gateways Move into Network's Core

Laura Stotler, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Media gateways have traditionally sat at the edge of the network in the VoIP world, providing translation between circuit-switched and packet-switched networks to enable next-generation products like IP PBXs and IP phones to interoperate with legacy PBXs and phones. Increasingly, however, these devices are moving deeper into the core of the network to allow enterprises and carriers to leverage new services and reduce costs.
As media gateway appliances migrate to the network core they offer a number of opportunities for next-generation carriers. By using an IP media gateway with support for the Q Signaling (QSIG), which carries user information between legacy PBXs, VoIP may be supported up to the Central Office. This enables carriers to offer direct packet-switched connectivity to enterprises, without the hassle of monitoring and maintaining gateway equipment at the edge of the network. Legacy phone equipment and applications are supported, enabling a gradual upgrade to VoIP without a major equipment overhaul. And that equals costs savings for service providers and enterprises alike.
“The nice thing is you’re not having a forklift upgrade to IP. You’re trying out VoIP on a limited number of ports, but you can maintain your existing PBXs and upgrade to IP gradually,” said Sachin Dev, PME PME Product Marketing Engineer for the Modular Communications Platform Division of Intel (News - Alert) Corporation. He believes service providers will see the greatest benefits from the new wave of core media gateways, as they are essentially drop-in solutions. Service providers do not have to change the way their PBXs are programmed to accommodate how IP calls are routed.
Intel is joining a number of gateway manufacturers by moving one step deeper into the core network with their new NetStructure T1/E1-IP Media Gateway, which will be generally available on April 14. The new solution offers a “plug-and-play” approach and is geared toward service providers who want to upgrade their next-generation offerings without completely overhauling their equipment. The gateway, which interoperates with PBXs from a number of vendors including Avaya (News - Alert), Mitel, NEC (News - Alert), Nortel (News - Alert) and Siemens (News - Alert), enables offerings like hosted IP PBX services, IP Centrex and enhanced messaging servers.
It also offers support for supplementary services on the CAS, NI-2 and QSIG protocols, enabling functions like call transfer and forwarding, call waiting and caller ID without any additional programming required. The gateway is a good fit for enterprises interested in deploying applications like remote office connectivity, PBX extensions, call centers, long-distance consolidation and IP media servers.
“A T1/E1 connection has more advantages for a service provider, they don’t have to have multiple boxes stacked up,” said Dev. “This (T1/E1) is more widely adopted than a proprietary digital interface, and can reach a broader audience.”
Intel’s NetStructure PBX-IP media gateway also enables a phased migration to an IP network, and is ideal for enterprises that don’t wish to abandon their legacy PBXs and phones. The gateway converts PBX calls into a format suitable for transmission over LANs, WANs and managed packet networks. It can work in tandem with the NetStructure T1/E1-IP Media Gateway, supporting PBXs and phones at enterprise branch offices.
As media gateway functionality moves deeper into the core of the IP network, service providers are free to roll out a variety of enhanced multimedia services while adding IP support to their networks at a rate that is comfortable to them. By eliminating the need for large-scale equipment upgrades, service providers can continue to support legacy phones, PBXs and services while quickly rolling out IP-based functionality. This makes core-based IP media gateways a valuable stepping stone for any carrier interested in migrating to IP in a timely and cost effective manner.
Laura Stotler writes about IP Communications and related topics for TMCnet. She has covered VoIP and related technologies for seven years, contributing to Internet Telephony magazine and TMCnet, and as a freelance writer. To see more articles, please visit: Laura Stotler’s columnist page.


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