Optical/IP Networks

SnowShore Enhances IP Telephony

SnowShore Networks will officially emerge from stealth mode on Tuesday. The startup, which has raised $10.5 million so far from Charles River Ventures and Matrix Partners, says it holds a critical key to carriers' adoption of IP telephony.

The company is developing a media server that integrates IP-based services and telephony. So, is this another IP softswitch product like those from Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)? Not exactly. Softswitches shuttle voice traffic onto IP networks and offer a software approach to replacing traditional class 4 and class 5 telecom switches.

SnowShore’s media server is complimentary to this technology, says Hilary Mine, executive vice president of Probe Research. It offers a carrier the ability to integrate telephony and Web-based content, as well as traditional messaging services such as call-waiting and messaging, on an IP-based network. "It is a key component to any telephony network,” says Mine. “Enhanced services can make any service like call waiting or message forwarding more interesting.”

This is important because carriers generate a lot of their revenue from enhanced services like call waiting, unified messaging, and conference calling. And, notes Mine, media servers are key elements in providing those services.

SnowShore says one of its key features is the ability to incorporate Web content. For example, the SnowShore media server will allow participants on a conference call to tune into Web-based audio feeds.

“We’re not just trying to recreate the old legacy network in IP,” says David Penny, co-founder and vice president of marketing and business development for SnowShore. “The promise of the technology is that we will give carriers the ability to create new services.”

The company is currently raising another round of funding, which it hopes to close in the fall. And it will begin shipping its product for revenue in the first part of 2002. As for an initial public offering, Penny says the company is not in a position to think about that yet.

“The climate has changed,” he says. “I think the dotcom days of going public while you’re losing huge amounts of money are over. Wall Street is looking for companies to be profitable or at least close to it. So that means it would be more like 2003 before we’d think about it.”

- Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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