Optical/IP Networks

Interoute Rides Europe's VOIP Wave

Pan-European operator Interoute Telecommunications is piling the pressure on its suppliers in an effort to cope with the increasing volumes of VOIP traffic on its network, according to CTO Matthew Finnie.

The carrier has launched, though not publicly announced, a new outsourced VOIP service called Virtual Voice Network, which allows VOIP service providers to enter the European market without having to invest in any infrastructure, hosting, or local staff. Interoute is selling the service with the tagline, "We manage the switch, you manage the customer."

All the service provider customers have to do is buy ports at Interoute's POPs, and interconnect with the network. From that point Interoute does the rest, even down to managed billing, though such a service is optional.

Privately held Interoute says it can provide and manage such a service because it owns and manages its facilities and network (11,250 miles of fiber connecting 50 European cities, and 18 metro networks) and already has five Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONSE) softswitches up and running.

But Interoute wasn't quite prepared for the demand. Finnie says Sonus can hardly keep pace with calls for additional ports on the existing softswitches, and the expected volumes of traffic mean the carrier has ordered a further four softswitches from the vendor. "To say VOIP is going gangbusters doesn't do it justice," says the CTO.

Good news for Sonus, then, which could do with a fillip (see Sonus Sort Of Reports Q1 and Sonus Redeploys CFO).

Sonus isn't the only beneficiary of Interoute's expansion. Finnie has splashed some cash on session border controllers, which enable IP sessions to traverse the connections between IP networks and to bypass corporate firewalls that could block the packets, from three vendors -- Acme Packet, Kagoor Networks, and NexTone Communications Inc.

Why three suppliers? Finnie says the session controller market is still in its infancy, and he wants to see how the products from the three vendors perform and mature. "Then we'll probably dual-source."

Finnie says three years ago, when he first heard about the concept of session controllers, he couldn't see the reason for having them in a network, but he does now. And the results from the latest Boardwatch poll show that a majority of people believe session controllers are critical pieces of kit for carriers wanting to provide IP services (see Session Controllers: Invaluable or Unnecessary?).

— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

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