A company that leases VOIP-enabling hardware and software adds the cross-carrier element, mediating between different IP protocols and adding routing, call detail records and security.
VoIP Rental, a company that leases voice-over-IP infrastructure elements to carriers and large enterprises, has expanded its range of products to include a new component category and provider: session controllers, supplied by NexTone Communications.
The move reflects the growing need among VOIP users to cross network borders, mediating between networks of differing signaling protocols, and different packetization and addressing schemes.
In the past, VOIP carriers have been forced to gateway out to the traditional, circuit-switched voice network and back in again to hand traffic to each other, even if that PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) connection measured 5 feet in length across a co-location facilitys racks.
This solution introduces additional expense and latency to voice conversations. Enterprises have experienced similar challenges when connecting their IP PBXes with application servers that support teleconferencing or unified messaging.
The NexTone MSC (Multiprotocol Session Controller) is able to resolve these problems while maintaining the traffic in its native IP form.
VoIP Rental, which also leases Cisco-based VOIP gateways, gatekeepers and SS7-signaling gateways so that customers can send calls out onto (and receive them from) the PSTN, will offer NexTones MSC on a hosted basis, installing the server for customers in a telco co-location facility or on premise and managing it remotely for customers.
VoIP Rentals leasing proposition allows carriers and enterprises to implement VOIP networks without heavy upfront costs or extensive in-house expertise. NexTones MSC, for example, can be leased for a smaller port size than the smallest version NexTone sells outright. According to Chad Hendren, director of technical sales at VoIP Rental, leasing agreements start with session controllers supporting 100 simultaneous VOIP calls for $500 per month in hardware rental and $1,000 per month for the user license.
Hendren compares the MSC conceptually to the Class 4 (tandem) switch of traditional TDM (time-division multiplexing), which hands off aggregated traffic from one carrier to the next. Although most customers to date are carriers, a target enterprise customer for the MSC lease might be an offshore, VOIP-based call center.
Such a voice-centric facility may have H.323-based phones at agent sites and need to hook up to the Session Initiation Protocol-based Level 3 carrier in the United States for cheaper outbound or inbound 800-number calling.
In addition to mediating between such network variations as SIP or H.323 VOIP call-control protocol, NexTones MSC can perform programmable routing among different carriers, centralized collection of call detail records (for carrier billing or enterprise call accounting), dynamic call-admission control, and network-address translation to keep customers end points hidden from origination and termination routes.
The NexTone MSC has also established interoperability with gateways and gatekeepers/soft switches from other vendors besides Cisco Systems Inc., including Sonus, Clarent, Lucent, Quintum, and VocalTec.
VoIP Rental has offices in Los Angeles and London and equipment placed at secure co-location facilities throughout North America and Europe.
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Ellen Muraskin is editor of eWEEK.com's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.