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Editors' Notebook
July 2001

 In this month's edition of Editors' Notebook:

Greg Galitzine Follow The Money


I'm sure you've all heard the adage "Follow the money." I'd like to amend that a bit, and add some intelligence: "Follow the smart money." When several leading venture capitalists agree on -- and invest in -- the same company, it merits a closer look. And when those investors turn out to be Ed Kozel (Cisco CTO), Raj Singh (founder of Cerent, Siara, and Stratum 1), Paul Sherer-managed Vantage Point Venture Partners (of Qtera/Nortel and Foundry Networks fame), and ComVentures, a fund whose past successes include Chromatis and Monterey (one to Lucent and the other to Cisco), I'd say it's probably worth a much closer look.

The company that all of these well-heeled folks have turned their gaze upon is Kagoor Networks, a Silicon Valley and Israel-based start-up that hopes to solve some serious issues that face the Internet telephony market. The name Kagoor means gatekeeper (in ancient Sumerian). And, maintaining the Sumerian theme, the company's engineers have taken to naming components and program names after Sumerian gods and mythological figures.

So what exactly does Kagoor do? I had the opportunity to speak with co-founder, president, and CEO Opher Kahane, who shared the company's vision. He said the company hopes to become something akin to "an Akamai for VoIP." Essentially, Kagoor was founded with the mission to help service providers overcome the bottlenecks that appear when you try to scale VoIP services. When VoIP is deployed on a large scale, network congestion and lack of control over selecting the most efficient traffic route contribute to degraded call quality. Kagoor hopes to address these issues of network congestion and control over traffic routes.

At the heart of the Kagoor solution is something called the VoiceFlow Operating System (v/OS), a wire-speed packet voice-processing platform. The v/OS platform classifies, measures, and manipulates packet voice traffic at wire speed, across the IP, media, and signaling layers. The platform is able to run multiple application modules (called SoftBlades) in parallel -- enforcing service provider defined policies such as QoS routing, bandwidth utilization, or billing verification, for example.

By optimizing bandwidth, adapting instantaneously to network conditions, and maximizing the available resources of a VoIP network, VoiceFlow improves call quality and completion rates, while also improving carrier revenue generation and margins.

The VoiceFlow 1000 is a 1U design with 10/100 Ethernet interfaces that transparently insert to an IP network, typically between a gateway and router. Two initial applications -- VoiceFlow Traffic Engineering SoftBlade and VoiceFlow Call Aggregation SoftBlade -- are currently available.

VoiceFlow Traffic Engineering SoftBlade
VoiceFlow Traffic Engineering allows voice traffic to be redirected, bypassing congested areas, to the best alternate routes in the network. By deploying transparent network devices that adapt to changing conditions, VoiceFlow Traffic Engineering controls the routing of calls in the IP cloud. When congestion is detected along one of the default routes, VoiceFlow determines a new optimal path along which voice traffic is redirected based on current load and capacity.

This ability to adapt to changing network conditions in real-time is designed to allow service providers and carriers to intelligently control the IP-level routing of voice calls, increase IP-based call completion and duration rates, and ensure higher reliability and quality for VoIP calls.

VoiceFlow Call Aggregation SoftBlade
VoiceFlow Call Aggregation is an application that optimizes the capacity of a network's infrastructure increasing available bandwidth and boosting the effective line utilization by 200 to 250 percent. Typically, two-thirds of bandwidth is routinely wasted on IP packet header and protocol overhead, but VoiceFlow Call Aggregation significantly reduces this percentage by compressing IP header information and multiplexing voice content to transport more payload per packet. VoiceFlow Call Aggregation decreases overall bandwidth consumption while improving router queue behavior and balances peak loads on the network.

Additional SoftBlade applications based on the VoiceFlow technology platform are forthcoming. The company has had the product in carriers' labs since December of 2000. At press time, VoiceFlow was set to make its debut with their first customer, ITXC.

[ Return To The July 2001 Table Of Contents ]

Broadband In The 'Burbs Revisited


Several months ago, our own Robert Vahid Hashemian wrote a column lamenting the fact that he could not get broadband access in the suburbs where he lives. The main problem it seems was that he couldn't get his fix of real-time Webcasts from the International Space Station. Who knew? Robert's a self-confessed space junkie! Well, a recent announcement from GoDigital Networks may herald happier times ahead.

GoDigital said that they will begin beta trials this summer for an ADSL extension product that serves subscribers located beyond 12,000 feet of the local exchange carrier's central office (CO), enabling ADSL to be delivered to the 100 million lines throughout North America that otherwise would be denied ADSL service. The XCel-4a also transports four ADSL services on a single pair in order to maximize the capacity and value of the existing copper infrastructure. Because the GoDigital system is line powered and its remote terminal units (RTUs) are about the size of a shoebox, the RTU does not require utility power, an installation pad, rights of way, or an environmentally hardened cabinet. That dramatically lowers deployment costs versus existing ADSL extension platforms such as ADSL-equipped next generation digital loop carriers (NGDLC) and remote digital subscriber line access multiplexers (DSLAMs), and reduces service-provisioning time to less than one day.

Its per-line cost of $600 to $900 (depending on distance from the CO) is less than 10 percent of what is needed to serve remote customers in low population density areas using alternative solutions, which can cost as much as $9,000 per customer when the subscriber is more than 18,000 feet from the CO, according to a recent study by the Rural Utilities Services Administration.

If all goes well, the product should be available to LECs and other carriers this autumn. Who knows, maybe Robert will finally have his broadband access (and his daily dose of NASA feeds) by the time the leaves start falling?

[ Return To The July 2001 Table Of Contents ]

Mike von Wahlde

New School The Old Way


I think everyone can agree on one thing in this seemingly unstable economy -- it's a great idea to rethink the way things have been done over the last several years. Capital was flying around like grounds at a coffee shop in the Village, and being tossed back like a double espresso -- disappearing almost as quick as it was produced. Born of the IP Generation, it was said that VoIP was going to revolutionize the way we communicate and the manner and amounts we would pay for those rights.

But as the clock ticked away, and the first rounds of funding dried up at many pre-IPOs, the marketing speak changed. It spoke not of revolution, but evolution. VoIP was still to change how we communicate, just not right away. It was best implemented slowly and manageably through established means and tested technologies, and then the IP evolution would be on its way.

So here we are, mid-2001 and we find the market ripe for cost-saving communications systems. Who do enterprises or smaller carriers look for when new services are on the drawing board? Who in their right mind is going to toss costly systems that, while not optimal for all needs, still get the job done? Small, integrated solutions that slowly ramp have been consistent winners in the past, and unlike the empty promises of that ugly mistress of VoIP revolution, the motherly, gentle, and foot-first evolution model provides the opportunity for true ROI and tactical voice and data network construction.

CopperCom has taken this steady ramping to service that shows a maturity that speaks outside of the young VoWhatever industry. Targeting the Local Exchange, CopperCom has brought ISPs into the local telephone market and bullied service providers interested in rolling out data and voice with the implementation of class 4 and 5 switching capabilities using, among other solutions, the LEXSS (Local eXchange Softswitch System). By providing an integrated, solution-driven deployment, CopperCom is positioning themselves to "liberate the LEC," a strategy based on the idea that the VoIP card that will fit into the CopperCom CSX 2100 media gateway will be implemented once local exchanges are optimized around IP.

CopperCom's VoIP solutions support all three VoIP application scenarios. They see SIP as the emergent protocol, banking on the idea that as far as services and long-term growth is concerned, SIP is where it's at. Keep in mind that CopperCom is basing this on the growth rate VoIP has had, and when factored in with an extra measure of care, large-scale SIP adoption is occurring around 2003-2004. Who will drive the VoB/VoIP demand? CopperCom considers the LEC and the Enterprise the two places set to gain most from its implementation, and no doubt, that argument isn't too hard to swallow.

Interoperability with the PSTN is the foundation of any communications system. Implementing switch functionality at the Class 4 and 5 level provides the links to VoB -- where we so crucially are positioned now. Features are being rolled out these days at an amazing rate, preparing consumers for the expanded functionality of a converged communications system, and offering providers and enterprises with easier, Web-based configuration.

By growing in the same manner as converged communications, and providing the solid expertise of PSTN interoperability, Class 4 and 5 switching, and VoB and the multiple services it can bring, CopperCom is evolving in a staid, progressive manner; building on the foundation of telecom and broadband deployment, and pressing into the future of VoIP and SIP-based services.

[ Return To The July 2001 Table Of Contents ]

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