& cplSiteName &

Cisco Skips Class 5

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading

In the world of softswitches, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) remains conspicuously absent. But it's not clear that the company will fire up its M&A machine to mind the gap.

Some background: Cisco has a Class 4 replacement softswitch in its PGW 2200, but it doesn't really have a Class 5 replacement. The BTS 10200 has some Class 5 features but doesn't fit the bill for baseband carrier voice.

Of course, no one says Cisco has to produce one of everything, but this seems a strange area to skip, considering VOIP is such a hot market -- and especially considering Cisco championed VOIP long before it was hip to do so.

Lack of a Class 5 softswitch sets Cisco apart from other large vendors, including Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), according to "VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Softswitches," a recent report from Heavy Reading, Light Reading's paid research division.

Cisco does have a Class 5 plan, but it's fragmented. The company resells the iMSS from Italtel SpA, but that platform conforms only to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) specifications, making it primarily a European play; Cisco hasn't announced plans for American National Standards Institute (ANSI) extensions for North America.

Instead, Cisco announced plans to use LM Ericsson's (Nasdaq: ERICY) softswitch, called Engine, sitting it beside a Cisco 12000 or 10000 router to create dual-vendor offerings (see Cisco, Ericsson Join Forces).

And in fact, officials claim they're pretty happy with those arrangements. Cisco's own softswitches are suited for the data networks that are Cisco's home turf, adding voice to an otherwise data-centric buildout. "The Class 5 replacement market is a little bit different, because you're into some proprietary interfaces and so on," a Cisco spokesman says. "In those legacy environments, that's where you'll see us partner." So the networking giant does seem to have its bases covered, but even so -- might it follow Lucent's lead and shop for a softswitch of its own? Cisco did think about it once (see Cisco Eyeing Sonus and Lucent Buys Softswitch Vendor Telica). Should the Ericsson project fall through, quite a few smaller vendors would be potential acquisition targets.

Smaller competitors might have a motivation to go on the block, too, because softswitch interoperability is still a volatile area. That's good for large vendors, according to Graham Beniston, the Heavy Reading analyst who wrote the softswitch report.

"Operators cannot wait for large-scale interoperability to be proved, so they will choose two or three vendors and force them to interoperate to get the business," putting small vendors "at a huge disadvantage," he writes.

Should Cisco -- or anyone else -- decide to shop around, they'll find plenty of private companies to browse. The list in the Heavy Reading report includes Cirpack, Nuera Communications Inc., and Veraz Networks Inc. doing distributed softswitches, and Cirpak, Cedar Point Communications Inc., MetaSwitch, NetCentrex SA, Open Telecommunications, and Sentito Networks with integrated softswitches.

Cisco officials were not immediately available for comment.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

For more on this topic, check out:

For further education, visit the archives of related Light Reading Webinars:

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:30:58 AM
re: Cisco Skips Class 5
I would like to know if anyone knows and can compare and contrast briefly NetCenterx and Cisco BTS 10200 softswitches ?
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 1:18:30 AM
re: Cisco Skips Class 5
Since the class 5 model is antithetical to all of the advantages that can be provided by VoIP, I am rather mystified by that anyone would be surpsied that Cisco would not develop one.

This would be like Henry Ford developing a new type of horse harness. The Class 5 with its centralized features is technologically obsolete.

The AIN is in the scrap heap along with it.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 1:18:26 AM
re: Cisco Skips Class 5
Wake up!
Haven't you seen Vonage, AT&T callvantage, Primus Lingo and now Verizon..(ofcourse many more smaller folks).
Yes, there are hiccups with location services, but its not just the academicians addressing it, the whole industry is.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 1:18:17 AM
re: Cisco Skips Class 5
Can someone point me to a crisp definition of Class 5?

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 1:18:16 AM
re: Cisco Skips Class 5
Class 3 - IEC - Interexchange Carrier
Hierarchical interconnection for Class 4 and optional Class 5 Switches

Class 4 - Tandem Office - Toll Office
Interconnection for Class 5 Switches and long distance via Class 3 IECs. Optional direct connection to higher volume Class 4 sites. A Class 4 may also serve as a Class 5 CO.

Class 5 - Central Office -End Office
Connection to local Customer Premise Equipment and local switching. Capacity typically is up to 100,000 lines, 1 to 10 NXX.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 1:18:16 AM
re: Cisco Skips Class 5
Time out.

While the Class 5 (end office) and class 4 (toll office a.k.a. tandem office) switches have been properly represented here thus far, note that the class 3, 2 and 1 offices (called the primary, sectional and regional offices, respectively), were eliminated at the time of, or shortly after, the Divestiture of AT&T in 1984.

Today it is customary for Calss 4s to talk to (connect to) one another without the additional up-and-down tiers that once existed when the long distance switching hierarchy belonged, for all intents and purposes, to a single carrier organization.

Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 16, 2017, ExCel Centre, London
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
The Revolution Will Be Automated
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 10/10/2017
The Big Cable DAA Update
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/11/2017
Is US Lurching Back to Monopoly Status?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Telecom Italia Covers 73% of Italy With NB-IoT
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/13/2017
DT: Brutal Automation Is Only Way to Succeed
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/10/2017
Animals with Phones
Hunt & Peck Click Here
Giving new meaning to hunt-and-peck typing!
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed