Heavy Reading: Next-Gen Routers

VOIP growth will be hampered by lack of standards in next-gen routers, Heavy Reading study finds

September 8, 2004

3 Min Read

NEW YORK -- The failure of telecom equipment makers to adhere more strictly to industry standards for delivering voice over IP (VOIP) technology will cause some service providers and enterprises to delay their network deployments of VOIP, according to a major new study released today by Heavy Reading (www.heavyreading.com), the market research division of Light Reading Inc.

The report, "Next-Generation Routers: A Comprehensive Product Analysis," analyzes the product and market strategies of more than two dozen makers of next-gen routers, the network equipment that is responsible for moving all traffic along the world's packet-based telecom networks.

The report includes up-to-the-minute, detailed product and feature analyses of 119 different routers from 26 manufacturers, with dozens of matrices that deliver more than 1,000 data fields allowing for direct product comparisons – making it the most comprehensive product guide of its kind. Included in the report are products from market leaders Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR), Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks (NYSE/Toronto: NT). An in-depth look at Cisco's newly announced CRS-1 router is also included.

VOIP represents the most significant opportunity to expand IP networks, but that potential cannot be realized without further standardization work, note Paul Shippam and Paul Ridgewell, Heavy Reading Analysts at Large and co-authors of the report. Specifically, equipment vendors continue to use proprietary technologies to deliver critical VOIP features, including voice mail, callback services, and call forwarding.

Until standards for all VOIP services are fully implemented, equipment buyers will not be able to mix and match products from different vendors to build their networks. Faced with the prospect of a single-vendor technology source, many telecom carriers and enterprise users may delay or curtail VOIP expansion plans until standards are fully in place, Shippam and Ridgewell conclude.

Other key findings in the reports include:

Continued use of proprietary technologies will make it difficult for new competitors to win business in both the enterprise and carrier markets. Incumbent vendors continue to use proprietary technology as a way to keep customers locked into buying equipment only from them. This strategy essentially locks out competition from smaller, more innovative startups.

Methods used by router manufacturers to describe the performance of their equipment still vary considerably, making direct comparisons difficult and confusing for prospective buyers. Even though most routers function in very similar ways – using similar protocols and interface card types – router makers often use different metrics to describe product performance.

"Microbursts" are a potentially significant problem for router reliability in converged services networks. Microbursts are brief network outages (typically less than one minute in duration) caused mainly by small changes in the IP network that result in the need to update routing tables throughout the network. While microbursts don't present a significant problem for best-effort IP services, they can cause delay-sensitive services like VOIP to fail.

"Next-Generation Routers: A Comprehensive Product Analysis," an 89-page report, is published in PDF format and costs $3,495.

For more information, or to request a free executive summary, contact:

Dave Williams
Sales Director, Heavy Reading
[email protected]

Press/analyst contact:
Dennis Mendyk
Managing Director, Heavy Reading
[email protected]

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