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September 2001

Alternatives To The Class 5 Switch

The (r)evolution began in earnest several years ago. And while the vendors of legacy circuit switches watched with growing trepidation, dozens of newcomers moved from lab trials to full-on network testing to revenue generating deployment of their new breed of alternative switches. Some of these switching solutions are pure packet-based IP switching machines. Others recognized the need to play the role of mediators, bridging between the worlds of circuit and packet. Some of these solutions are from companies you never heard of. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that some of these switches are from the biggest producers of legacy circuit-switching gear. If they're creating alternatives to their own bread and butter, you can bet that this technology indeed has a place in tomorrow's networks.

Lower in cost, smaller in size, and with the ability to offer service providers an environment in which they can create, deploy, and provision countless new enhanced services without having to wait months or years, these next-generation switching alternatives mean serious business. If you're a service provider toying with the idea of deploying one of these solutions in your network, we suggest you take a good hard look at some of the vendors whose products are featured in this roundup. Remember, you have to do your homework. Check out customer references, visit the Web sites of these vendors, and call them if you have any questions. These solutions might be the ones that help you achieve your goals.

-The Editors


Clarent OpenAccess Solution
Clarent Corporation
700 Chesapeake Dr.
Redwood City, CA 94063

The OpenAccess Solution is a VoIP product suite that enables service providers to offer traditional and advanced telecommunications services over the "last mile" of any communications network. A main component of this solution is the Clarent softswitch -- a combination of the Clarent Call Manager and the Clarent Command Center -- which provides a highly scalable, standards-based service and application platform with the essential elements of a traditional Class 5 telecommunications switch.

Plexus 9000
Telica, Inc.
734 Forest St., Building G
Marlboro, MA 01752

Telica's Plexus 9000 is an intelligent service-capable switching platform that unleashes new economic and competitive advantages for service providers in today's evolving network. As a high-capacity, fault-tolerant, packet-based switch for TDM and VoP switching, the Plexus 9000 allows service providers to cap their investment in traditional circuit switches and migrate to a converged switching infrastructure. They can initially use the Plexus 9000 as a high-capacity Tandem or Class 5 switch, confident in the knowledge that when they are ready to migrate to a packet-based network, their investment will be leveraged. Or, they can do TDM and VoP today. High levels of density, performance, and scalability easily handle a dynamic mix of circuit- and packet-switched traffic. Multiple solutions can be deployed on the Plexus 9000.

Call Agent
Telcordia Technologies
444 Hoes Ln.
Piscataway, NJ 08854

The Telcordia Call Agent is a Class 5 softswitch that is carrying VoIP and VoATM traffic for paying customers today. The Call Agent works with associate-provided gateways and provides call control functions and delivers a rich set of revenue-generating features.

Softswitch - T3 (Toll/Tandem/Transit)
Lucent Technologies
600 Mountain Ave.
Murray Hill, NJ 07974

The Lucent Softswitch is an open, programmable platform that truly delivers on the promise of next-generation switching. The revolutionary architecture of soft switching technology separates call control logic and access over a packet fabric. Opening up the old sealed-box style switching model enables service programmability -- a key advantage to the softswitch architecture. Lucent Softswitch enables application solutions for either IP- or ATM-based networks.

RCP-700 Rapid Convergence Platform
Rapid5 Networks
180 Baytech Dr.
San Jose, CA 95134

The RCP-700 Rapid Convergence Platform is a highly scalable, carrier-grade convergence platform designed to offload, augment, and ultimately replace the circuit switched telephone network. The platform provides dial-up Internet traffic offload, broadband access, and multi-service gateway functionality. By intercepting and packetizing data traffic before it hits an ingress Class 5 switch, the RCP-700 provides networks with optimal relief from the effects of long-hold Internet connections. Eventually the RCP-700 can evolve with the network to replace all TDM switch functionality for voice transmission, as well as data.

Go Beam Communications Services
260 N. Wolfe Rd.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

GoBeam provides a performance enhancing and cost efficient alternative to Centrex-based communication systems for small and mid-size businesses. GoBeam continuously develops and deploys carrier-quality communication services and features such as find me-follow me, instant messaging, and visual voicemail through an elegant Web browser interface that delivers sophisticated functionality and control for in-house or remote workers. GoBeam's real-time business communication platform helps increase user productivity while reducing the cost of systems hardware requirements and related maintenance.

ipVerse, Inc.
926 Rock Ave.
San Jose, CA 95131

ipVerse ControlSwitch acts as an open operating system, empowering service providers to rapidly deploy multi-vendor solutions for new, revenue-generating services. By providing toll, tandem, and local (i.e., Class 4/5) voice services, as well as new, converged voice and data services, ControlSwitch migrates service providers to the new public network. ControlSwitch optimizes existing class switches while enabling carriers to expand into new markets without additional investment in class switches for reduced costs and accelerated service delivery.

MetaSwitch VP3000
MetaSwitch (A Division of Data Connection)
1411 Harbor Bay Pkwy., Ste. 1003
Alameda, CA 94502

The MetaSwitch VP3000 is an integrated Broadband Voice Platform combining broadband voice gateway and Class 5 Softswitch function in a single high-density carrier class system. The VP3000 enables service providers to deploy Voice over Broadband now without investing in Class 5 switches, to exploit their existing packet backbones for voice traffic, and to establish a strategic evolutionary path toward new broadband voice services and Softswitch/VoIP network infrastructures.

Syion 426
Syndeo Corporation
695 Campbell Technology Pkwy.
Campbell, CA 95008

The Syion 426 is a carrier-grade Class 5/Local Exchange softswitch and services platform designed to deliver an extensive suite of revenue-generating features across any combination of legacy (TDM and H.323) or next-gen (SIP and MGCP/NCS) networks. The Syion architecture was purpose-built for the delivery of regulatory (primary local exchange) services such as emergency/lifeline services, operator services, directory assistance, and lawful intercept. Because the Syion contains innovative, service-aware call processing, it can be adapted to guarantee conformity to regulatory specifications for carrier services throughout the world. The Syion interconnects and mediates MGCP, NCS, SIP, H.323, and SS7/C7 next-gen and legacy call control protocols in an any-to-any fashion. The Syion's protocol mediation model also enables the rapid development and integration of other protocols such as H.248 (MEGACO).

CommWorks Softswitch
CommWorks Corporation
1800 W. Central Rd.
Mount Prospect, IL 60056

The CommWorks softswitch supports call, media, and service control across multiple access applications including wired, wireless, and broadband. It provides intelligent call handling between media gateways for an array of access media and a multiplicity of fixed and mobile end points. It also handles call processing; integrates signaling with the existing SS7 infrastructure; and coordinates with databases and back-end servers to properly route calls and distribute functions to other network elements. The softswitch also supports critical network functions like provisioning, fault tolerance, and billing; and interfaces with application servers, feature servers, and media servers in order to enable a wide array of new revenue generating services.

General Bandwidth
12303 Technology Blvd.
Austin, TX 78727

General Bandwidth's G6 platform is a key component of any softswitching solution. The G6 is built upon open, standards-based interfaces that allow it to work with best-in-class softswitches to provide a completely integrated solution. In combination with a softswitch, the G6 can be deployed in Class 4 and Class 5 augmentation applications such as Internet offload and Internet call diversion in order to eliminate the strain on existing infrastructure caused by dial up Internet traffic. Longer-term, as service providers begin removing circuit-switched infrastructure and going out of region, the G6 serves alongside a softswitch in Class 4 or Class 5 replacement applications.

VocalData, Inc.
3001 President G. Bush Hwy., Ste. 150
Richardson, TX 75082

The VocalData VOISS solution is a feature-rich service delivery softswitch that enables service providers to offer carrier-grade voice services and enhanced applications on an open architecture. VOISS is based upon the industry standards (MGCP, SIP, and SCCP) to provide service providers with greater flexibility and ease as they build multi-vendor networks. Incorporation of third-party products in VOISS 3.0 ensures that they have been thoroughly tested in VocalData's labs, helping to take the pain out of network integration.

Fusion 5000
Tachion Systems
185 Monmouth Park Hwy.
Corporate Center 1, Bldg. C
West Long Branch, NJ 07764

Unlike "next-gen" products designed as quick fixes to congestion problems, or temporary patches between existing circuit and emerging packet networks, the Fusion 5000 introduces a true next-generation architecture and strategic migration solution. The Fusion Architecture reduces the number of network elements needed to roll out bundled services, services key to next-generation telecommunications systems. Carriers can launch new networks without the real estate and equipment of a traditional central office.

Taqua Systems
75 Attucks Ln.
Hyannis, MA 02601

Taqua's OCX is a Class 5 alternative switching system with integrated softswitch functionality that provides a clear migration path to next-generation packet-based networks. The OCX was purpose-built to create a new model for delivering local telecommunications services -- one which dramatically reduces initial and overall cost of ownership, while realizing the promise of voice/data network convergence. Based on a groundbreaking software and hardware architecture, the OCX transforms legacy proprietary, centralized switching environments into a next-generation distributed, intelligent, and highly scalable network supporting more than 100,000 subscribers. The OCX incorporates a core set of CLASS and Custom Calling features and empowers third-party service developers via its SIP and open API interfaces.

CCS Softswitch
2115 O'Nel Dr., Suite 101
San Jose, CA 95131

The NetCentrex CCS Softswitch performs network call control and switching as well as providing a voice application platform for advanced communication services. The CCS Softswitch enables the deployment of next-generation networks and accelerates the delivery of revenue generating services by optimizing the network infrastructure and enabling enhanced services and applications. CCS enables service providers to deliver best-of-breed Class 5 services for both residential and enterprise customers. CCS delivers the core technology to enable network-based end-user applications provided by NetCentrex, such as VoIP VPN, IP Centrex, and residential telephony. Additionally, CCS supports an open service creation environment for rapid development, as well as deployment of custom services and applications.

Communications Server 2000
Nortel Networks
8200 Dixie Rd.
Brampton, ONT. L6T 5P6 Canada

Because the Communication Server 2000 evolves the worldwide feature set into next generation networks, it provides a very broad set of local, long-distance, international, and advanced intelligent services. Moreover, a given feature within this set exists in dozens of different customer contexts with subtle differences in expected behavior. Nortel Networks' Communication Server 2000 is uniquely positioned to deliver each feature with its full set of expected behaviors and interactions to maximize customer retention and enable the broadest possible revenue stream for service providers.

Applications Switch
Sylantro Systems Corp.
910 E. Hamilton Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008

Sylantro provides the industry's premier applications-enabled softswitch, which allows service providers to deliver high-value managed telephony services via their broadband networks. Sylantro's Applications Switch provides call-control functions and PSTN interworking, as well as offering pre-packaged business communications services that represent a superset of Class 5 end-office telephony functionality. Sylantro's "revenue-ready" solutions are available now, and offer an advanced class of managed telephony services that replaces the Class 5 switch, as well as today's in-house PBX and key system offerings.

SRX-3000 Softswitch
Unisphere Networks Inc.
10 Technology Park Dr.
Westford, MA 01866

The SRX-3000 Softswitch is a robust services creation and delivery infrastructure designed to allow service providers to simply and cost-effectively integrate converged voice and multi media services on cable modem access, xDSL, and next-generation wireless networks as well as ATM and circuit-switched networks. The platform enables flexible service deployment solutions including uncomplicated integration with third party applications via protocol or programming interfaces, and meta-directory technology for back-office integration. This model is designed to allow rapid service prototyping and next-generation service creation environments that leverage the latest in Java technology.

Broadsoft, Inc.
220 Perry Pkwy.
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301 977 9440

BroadSoft's flagship product, BroadWorks, can either be deployed as an extension of existing Class 4 or 5 switches -- thereby enabling providers to leverage new services with their existing infrastructure -- or as a complement to softswitches in a packet-based architecture. BroadWorks' platform cuts across
circuit and packet technologies, allowing providers to roll out a comprehensive suite of user-friendly, Web-enabled services that are easily, quickly, and cost-effectively deployed.

3121 Jay St.
Santa Clara, CA 95054

LongBoard's Multi-Engine Applications platform, a feature and applications server, delivers availability, scalability, and operational support systems integration for both LongBoard applications and third-party feature servers. LMAP provides the software, operations, and advanced applications infrastructure that enables basic and advanced telephony and IP services. The platform is SIP-based, and allows service providers to deliver Web-enabled Class 5 features, advanced services registration, and directory services, and SIP portals for third-party applications over next-generation networks. These networks comprise softswitch gateways and/or legacy Class 5 switches. This approach allows LongBoard customers a migration path to the new public network, while remaining competitive by leveraging their investments in existing networks.

BypaSS7 Signaling Service
Ariel Corporation
2540 Rt. 130, Suite 128
Cranbury, NJ 08512

Ariel Corporation, a leading supplier of Linux and Windows NT network access solutions, announces its new BypaSS7 Signaling Service, which greatly reduces up-front capital equipment expenditures for deploying SS7-based 56K/ISDN dial-up service. The new BypaSS7 Signaling Service enables ISPs and CLECs to offer SS7-based Internet access without having to purchase and operate expensive SS7 infrastructure. Ariel's BypaSS7 switch bypass solution gives ISPs and CLECs a low-cost, switchless option for providing SS7-based 56K/ISDN dial-up Internet access.

CopperCom Local Exchange Softswitch System (LeXSS)
3600 FAU Blvd.
Boca Raton, FL 33431
CopperCom's LeXSS (Local Exchange Softswitch System) is one of the industry's first softswitch solution designed specifically for the new local exchange. The LeXSS delivers local telephony services and revolutionary new services to subscribers over circuit and packet networks on a highly cost-effective platform. In addition to fundamentally changing the price points for local telephony switches, the LeXSS enables carriers to differentiate their services using a unique, software based feature creation environment. And all of these benefits accrue while supporting the circuit switched infrastructure of today's PSTN and leveraging the economic benefits of packet-based networks.

Odysea Programmable Service Switch (PSX)
Pelago Networks
260 Cedar Hill St.
Marlborough, MA 01752

The Odysea PSX, a fully programmable and single chassis solution, integrates the requisite functions from up to nine separate network elements including a media gateway, edge switch router, signaling gateway, media gateway controller/call agent (softswitch), and application server. The architectural simplicity of the Odysea PSX enables the rapid deployment of both services created in the Odysea SCE as well as a complete set of traditional and enhanced turnkey applications such as 911, Caller ID, voice VPNs, and one-number follow-me. In addition, open APIs at each layer offer flexibility for rapid porting or integration with existing service applications and the development of future functionality such as H.248/MEGACO. With support for SS7/IN, ATM, Frame Relay and IP, the Odysea PSX integrates into existing network- and OSS infrastructures, and offers a practical bridge between existing IN and next-generation service architectures.

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