The race to zero for analog voice is one factor driving the growth of SIP trunking, a market that is expected to top $8 billion by 2018 according to Infonetics (News - Alert). In common with many other users, I only keep my analog phone line with my cable provider because my bill will increase for video and Internet service if I removed it. Smart service providers have anticipated this commoditization of analog voice and, in response, migrated their entire infrastructure to an all-softswitch SIP core.
Doing so allows them to offer products in addition to voice for an improved and more robust enhanced services play, increasing their revenue potential. To further sweeten the pot for users who are accustomed to “paying” for voice (and voice with quality sound), service providers are starting to apply QoS for high-definition digital voice, package this for business markets, and offer these services as part of a complete unified communications play. Also, they can adopt it as a hosted service, making it easy for them to resell the service to other businesses.
However, to offer these enhanced services there is one network element in the switching core that is absolutely critical and required at the edge of the network: the session border controller. It is a dynamic network border traffic cop that protects the vital core softswitching network elements and enables session management at a transactional layer, which enhances and provides for monetization of those data flows.
The SBC creates a hub for SIP interoperability by normalizing all the unique flavors of SIP. Service providers need this interoperability to support their growth into new service offerings. For example, machine-to-machine technology is a hot topic at the SIP Trunking, UC & WebRTC Seminars at ITEXPO (News - Alert). By normalizing the many unique flavors of SIP, SBCs pave the way for service providers to deploy (for example) home security systems based on SIP – regardless of the type of SIP these machines use.
The SBC also allows for checks and balances by both the service provider and enterprise. It provides ubiquitous business continuity between the service provider and the enterprise network when the service provider SBC is used in conjunction with an enterprise SBC. Peering SBCs guarantees a mutual service level agreement needed for a trusted business relationship between the service provider and enterprise. Additionally, having two peering SBCs as a demarcation point gives the service provider a target to perform remote diagnostics and contain issues if and when they may arise.
Service providers and enterprises benefit from this SIP symbiotic relationship. Service providers can enjoy offering the enterprise secure and hack-free UC, and enterprises can reduce expenses by using time-based least-cost routing and enabling remote access to IP PBX (News - Alert) resources for traveling executives and branch offices.
SBCs provide an essential growth strategy for the service provider and enterprises alike.
In the near future, SBCs will become the cornerstone for new technologies such as WebRTC, a cost-effective method of using an inherent thin client to communicate with voice, video, and presence through a generic web browser without the need to buy a hard phone or fat softclient that requires installation or special privileges.
Khris Kendrick (News - Alert) is vice president of business development and sales at Ingate Systems
Edited by Maurice Nagle