VoIP Systems

CTIA 2011: Genband Pushes Rescue Plan for Aging Switches

ORLANDO, Fla. -- International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 -- On a show floor surrounded by the latest in mobile and wireless technology, why is Genband Inc. talking about TDM switch replacement?

Because, quite simply, that's a hot market in which Genband expects to play a major role, given its ownership of major TDM legacy switches in the U.S. Through acquisition, Genband now owns the DMS-100 and DMS-10 switches made by Nortel Networks Ltd. , the EWSD switches originally manufactured by Siemens Communications Group and the DC10 switches produced a few decades ago by Stromberg-Carlson, a company that was later acquired by Siemens. (See Genband Challenging MetaSwitch and Genband CEO Sees Opportunity in a Complex Deal.)

Over the next decade or so, thousands of these aging Central Office (CO) behemoths will be retired, and by owning the legacy switches, Genband also owns the proprietary interfaces between each switch and its accompanying line concentrator module (LCM). That means Genband can literally cut off the connections at the LCM, install a gateway with the same proprietary interface and direct those calls through one of its C20 softswitches, says Micaela Giuhat, Genband's VP of product line management.

These switches were installed in the 1980s and 1990s and expected to last 25 to 30 years, explains Mehmet Balos, chief marketing officer. They continue to support the declining number of traditional voice lines, but do so at a cost: The power required to operate and cool a digital switch is considerably higher than what more modern softswitches need. In addition, Balos says, the technicians trained to support these switches are retiring and the parts needed to repair them are increasingly scarce.

So why don't telcos just exorcise the digital demons? Because, Giuhat says, the pace of cord-cutting has slowed, and the remaining customer base, which includes many SMBs, isn't going away any time soon.

So Genband is essentially promoting a rescue plan for aging switches. In addition to providing the technology that enables a transition to next-gen networking, Genband is providing professional services that make that transition more efficient. The company will first groom the CO -- a process that can be compared to defragging a PC hard drive, says John Marlow, director of marketing for global services.

"We can go into a CO, which has 50 line card modules which are partially filled, and groom that down to five that are 100 percent filled," Marlow says. "So there are power savings on peripherals."

The alternative process that some companies are adopting essentially deploys a next-gen network on top of the existing circuit-switched operation, but that drives up operating expenses, Marlow says.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) are among the companies facing massive switch replacement. Balos expects this process to continue for years to come as remaining digital switches are retired.

Once the switch transformation has taken place, Genband also provides a migration path to a full IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture, Giuhat says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

igillath 12/5/2012 | 5:09:29 PM
re: CTIA 2011: Genband Pushes Rescue Plan for Aging Switches

It is an interesting avenue to promote this message.

We see similar need for quite sometime with both carriers as well as utilities that want to maintain their TDM service without having to maintain all the network infrastructure behind it. Enabling this in the CO is part of the complete picture. To maintain the same service to the customer as well as enable new services, however, will require edge devices that can support both.  These devices could be CES (circuit emulation) demarcation to converge TDM over IP, or IP phones for VoIP

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