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Optical/IP

Marconi's First Softswitch Sale

Marconi plc (Nasdaq/London: MONI) announced its first customer win for the SoftSwitch XCD5000 (see Marconi Sells SoftSwitch).

Jersey Telecom, the incumbent carrier on the British island of Jersey, says it will use the gear to introduce broadband voice and multimedia services across its network. Details of the contract were not disclosed, but a Marconi spokesperson admits that this is not a significant win in terms of the dollar amount. But it is a strategic win for the company.

Why? Marconi announced this product back in June of 2001 at the Supercomm tradeshow in Atlanta, and to date it has not announced any customers for it. Although the company claims it's in several trials right now, any named customer win at this point is worth noting.

The island of Jersey, which sits in the English Channel between England and France, is only 9 miles long and 5 miles wide -- smaller than Manhattan with only a fraction of the population. It’s home to roughly 87,000 residents and 5,000 businesses, most of which are involved with off-shore finance. Almost every national and international bank has a presence in Jersey. About £1 billion is invested in the island’s banks at any one time, says a spokesperson for Jersey Telecom.

As a result, Jersey Telecom has become a sophisticated adopter of new technology. It has already been offering a corporate voice-over-IP solution to some of its enterprise customers. In order to offer this service, it resells smaller PBX-replacement softswitches from Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) and Mitel Networks to enterprise customers. Now it is looking to extend VOIP services across its entire network. The long-term plan is to replace Marconi’s System-X, a digital public telephone system, with new carrier-class softswitches, says the spokesperson. System-X currently links Jersey Telecom’s fixed telephone and data infrastructure to the rest of the world.

From a technical perspective, this is an important deployment, but because of Jersey’s size it is not likely to ever be a significant financial win. Marconi will need to find larger, incumbent carriers to also adopt its softswitch. This could be difficult, given the current carrier climate (see Softswitches Head for a Shakeout).

For example, Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS), the only publicly held company dedicated to softswitches, forecasts a 60 percent revenue slide for its third quarter. The company’s revenues were down roughly 60 percent in the second quarter, too. Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), which was a pioneer in early softswitches, has decided to stall any further development until the market matures a bit more (see Lucent Clarifies Product Strategy).

Other key players in the market include Nortel, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), and Telica Inc.

Nortel has won deals with large carriers in the U.S. such as Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON), Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) for its Succession Communication servers. The company has also won several European and Asian deals (see Tiscali, Nortel Deploy VOIP). Siemens is also making a big push with softswitches (see Why Siemens Sold Unisphere).

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
www.lightreading.com
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BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 9:10:55 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale The prospect of Softswitch deployment in the public carriers is rather dim. VoIP is facing similar fate except its limited usage in the enterprise ernvironment. The Softswitch about 2-3 years ago were pleading a very rosy picture of its deployment prospects. They were targeting every customer under the sun. This included ILECs, CLECs, IXCs and ISPs. Overnight over twenty companies sprang up in the US alone with the help of the VCs.

VCs do not allow scientists and industry experts to evaluate the concepts throughly. There is so much supply of money in the US to the VC community that is hard for these guys to stay within their limits. Their ignorance and greed is of great concern.

The critics have appropriately concerned their concerns in the areas of reliability, integration, standards, and cost. None of the oftswitch companies have gained any traction in the US. Clarent, which I believe is about seven years old, does not have much to show for.
dljvjbsl 12/4/2012 | 9:10:54 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale
The prospect of Softswitch deployment in the public carriers is rather dim. VoIP is facing similar fate except its limited usage in the enterprise ernvironment. The Softswitch about 2-3 years ago were pleading a very rosy picture of its deployment prospects. They were targeting every customer under the sun. This included ILECs, CLECs, IXCs and ISPs. Overnight over twenty companies sprang up in the US alone with the help of the VCs.


This is very true except for the comment about VoIP -- limited usage in the enterprise ernvironment. This is a very significant market which will be getting much larger and much more signficant in the coming years. Teh carrier market is the one that will fade.

Wahtr is very true though is that teh soft switch is a very dumb idea that comes alive very few years (AIN, CTI, ... )in varius guises. It always fail because it solves no real customer problems that connot be done better in different ways
beachboy 12/4/2012 | 9:10:44 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale From News Feed :

Sir Alan Rudge and Hon Raymond G H Seitz, both non-executive directors of GEC plc and Marconi plc since 1997, have announced their intentions to resign from the Board immediately to make way for an orderly reconstruction of the Board. Sir William Castell and Nigel J Stapleton, who joined the Board of GEC plc in 1997 and Marconi plc in 1999, did not offer themselves for re-election to the Board at the company's annual general meeting on October 8, this year.

Shock, horror ! A venerable British institution replacing Sirs, Lords and Honorables.
I've always felt that either the inclusion of these guys or the 'promotion' to Lord or whatever is at the expense of credibility in the 'tech' business world. It conjures up too many stuffy and dated images.
raypeso 12/4/2012 | 9:10:42 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale I think the outlook for VoIp switches would be far better if the vendors could produce a working product.
The company I work for has purchased several softswitches and is very committed to moving into VoIp and retiring the old Class 5 switches. The new softswitches have been in our network for quite a while and still don't carry any customer traffic, main reason being that they are unreliable. I have no doubt in my mind that if the product worked as well as our old switches that they would be in full use by now.
These things fail in such fantastic ways that sometimes it amazes me. Customers who are used to dependable service from Lucent and Nortel switches will find it difficult to accept all the problems of the new breed.
link 12/4/2012 | 9:10:38 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale "Customers who are used to dependable service from Lucent and Nortel switches will find it difficult to accept all the problems of the new breed."

So has your company evaluated the softswitch from Nortel and in your opinion, is this in the same boat as the "new" softswitches in your lab?
Packet Man 12/4/2012 | 9:10:37 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale The new softswitches have been in our network for quite a while and still don't carry any customer traffic, main reason being that they are unreliable. I have no doubt in my mind that if the product worked as well as our old switches that they would be in full use by now.
These things fail in such fantastic ways that sometimes it amazes me. Customers who are used to dependable service from Lucent and Nortel switches will find it difficult to accept all the problems of the new breed.
--------------

What kind of problems are you having? I know two companies that have not run into any major issues. Just minor issues, and I'm sure DMS/5E also come with their share of minor issues. What kind of fanstasic problems are you having? What vendor are you using?

Me
raypeso 12/4/2012 | 9:10:34 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale We have problems with echo. The equipment it'self has been shaky. On a few occasions we've had card failures that have dropped the entire switch. If there had been live customer traffic on it we would have been in real trouble. Things are improving though, we began putting some of our SS7 traffic over the switches, the redundant path. The vendor is Sonus. As far as I know we haven't looked very hard at anyother but I could be mistaken.
Packet Man 12/4/2012 | 9:10:33 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale The vendor is Sonus. As far as I know we haven't looked very hard at anyother but I could be mistaken.
---------

The two vendors I heard good success with are Taqua and Telica, with Taqua being a Class 5, and the Telica (Plexus 9000 I think) is a Class 4 and 5 in the one box.

Anyone else have any opinions about these three vendors, good or bad?

Me
stbuk 12/4/2012 | 9:10:27 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale The Hon Raymond G H Seitz is actually American - ex-US ambassador to the UK.

I think the US does use "Honorable" for certain positions, judges, others?
hyperunner 12/4/2012 | 9:10:27 PM
re: Marconi's First Softswitch Sale A while back we had presentations on Marconi's softswitch, and one of the big features they talked about was its ability to deal with videoconferencing streams.

IMHO VoIP in the carrier network is stalled because the current generation of circuit switches do the job just fine, and it'd cost a fortune to rip out the old infrastructure and replace it with packet voice products. Given that there's liitle or no growth in demand, we can't rely on new builds with packet switches to gradually replace the installed circuit switching base.

But I'm seeing a lot of demand by large enterprises for packet based video conferencing. I know a lot of trading houses, financial analysts, etc. in the City of London have tossed out the old ISDN VC gear and installed IP devices recently. Payback is within weeks.

But, like current VoIP deployments, these are private video networks. Even so there's a demand by companies to be able to link to their customers and supply chain partners, and that's where a carrier could step in to offer a multi-media service over, say, a VPN service.

That service would also be popular with smaller businesses who can't afford to build their own, private video WAN.

What do you folks think?

hR.
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