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VoIP Systems

Genband 86s the S4

Genband Inc. has confirmed that it is shelving development of its S4 Applications Server, a device it gained when it bought Syndeo Corp. earlier this year. The S4 wasn't a generally available product, yet, but it was a device designed to give operators a way to provide Class 5 services (call-forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, etc.) to residential and small business VOIP customers. (See Genband on the Run.)

The S4's end comes because of a technology acquisition Genband made from Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) earlier this month, according to Genbad officials. The company announced it has acquired the DCO (Digital Central Office) business from Siemens. That consisted of the old Stromberg-Carlson circuit switches that are scattered across several North American independent operating companies (IOCs) and serving about 2 million access lines. (See GenBand Buys Siemens Unit.)

Genband won't say what it paid for the lot, but the company did move 27 employees over from Siemens as part of the deal.

So why bag the S4? It has to do with a technology acquisition made as part of the deal, say Genband officials. Siemens gave Genband an exclusive license to provide open interfaces to its EWSD installed base -- a group of some 1,100 switching systems worldwide that serve some 12 million access lines.

Siemens will continue providing EWSD sales and support. But the new licensing deal makes Genband the exclusive provider of technology to softswitch-enable those old EWSD lines, according to Genband officials.

The DCO buy and EWSD licensing gives Genband the ability to migrate more than 14 million Siemens DCO and EWSD voice switching lines to softswitch call control. Using its G6 media gateway, carriers can connect the proprietary line bays on the DCO or EWSD to a standards-based softswitch.

Apparently that arrangement -- coupled with the fact that Genband was about to start shipping the S4 -- made some carriers and Genband partners nervous. So Genband says it has conceded that business in return for being a "more open" partner to companies like Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Nortel Networks Ltd. , Metaswitch Networks , Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS), Tekelec , and others who might provide softswitches for Siemens EWSD customers.

"Discontinuing the sale of the S4 product removes a perceived competitive hurdle to complete the partnerships with these leading softswitch vendors," says Genband's senior director of marketing, Frederick Reynolds. "This strategy will allow Genband to focus our efforts on a consistent product line that can be sold to large or small carriers, across all markets."

For Genband, dropping the S4 is a small deal compared to its technology purchase from Siemens and the included licensing deal. Genband was a one-product company just a few years ago, and of late it has been making small, focused purchases to give it entrée into every business surrounding its flagship media gateway, with the exception of session border controllers.

Siemens, meanwhile, is apparently retreating from the North American telecoms market. After hyping its ability to transition carriers to packet networks and its ability to dominate fiber to the home access, the German giant has now turned tail in both areas and shed its businesses. (See Siemens Enters BPON Business, Siemens Unveils VOIP Package, and Siemens Sells ONT Biz.)

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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chip_mate 12/5/2012 | 3:37:54 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 Are they Nuts, or Visionaries?
To displace an EWSD at a Rural LEC, all CopperCom or Metaswitch needs to do is, SHOW UP.

The EWSD is a great switch for 1982. To spend money to attempt to make it switch softly :-) is money wasted.
Meta and Copper want a hundred grand or 3 to give you a brand new VoIP switch.
Does anyone really think a kluged next gen EWSD will be in anyone's network in 2 years?

OK, say GenBrand wins all the EWSD upgrade bidness. Where's that put them? Uh, no where.

First Tekelec returns to their legacy roots, now GenBrand. What kind of ether-leak is seeping from the ground in Richardson's Telecom corridor?

I'm thoroughly confused by this move, but not without an Opinion it would seem!
DMS600 12/5/2012 | 3:37:50 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 Mu-law = Taqua/Genband PR
mu-law 12/5/2012 | 3:37:50 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 Well now wait a minute. Where Cucom and Meta have had success in displacing anything its been DCO, which like the '10 has always been the readheaded stepchild of their business. Perhaps the odd single example of EWSD is there too.

Where they don't succeed, and where there has been no measurable migration is in the large switches, and large networks. This is because the cost to replace proprietary line equipment always outstrips the cost of the new core... and ultimately is impossible to justify.

If what this article says is true, it could be quite a coup for the General Bandwidth people, because it gives them exclusivity on 14 million lines of business they can bring to one of the softswitch vendors that they would otherwise *never* get. That's easily 14x all of the Class 5 softswitch thats out there now combined.
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:37:49 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 mu-law tells us:
If what this article says is true, it could be quite a coup for the General Bandwidth people, because it gives them exclusivity on 14 million lines of business they can bring to one of the softswitch vendors that they would otherwise *never* get. That's easily 14x all of the Class 5 softswitch thats out there now combined.

mu-law is obviously only counting Metaswitch, Coppercom, and Tekelec. If you start counting PacketCable deployments of Class 5 VoIP, you have to count Cisco, Siemens, Nortel, and Cedar Point and the millions of lines they're adding every year. In the cable model, you have a small number of huge customers rather than mom & pop telcos. Want to guess which business is profitable?
mu-law 12/5/2012 | 3:37:41 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 mu-law is obviously only counting Metaswitch, Coppercom, and Tekelec...Want to guess which business is profitable?

Perhaps mu-law is pointing out that the very reason that non-PacketCable Class 5 VoIP has not succeeded in making a dent in the 100MM lines out there is that none of the current approaches have a recipe for line equipment other than capital intensive, wholesale changeout, which derails the whole deal for any carrier who's not rich with government subsidy.

The bells have already shown that they'll take no action on wireline unless or until this is solved... or they'll just overbuild new access with FTTx in the meantime, none of which is softswitch based presently BTW.

Thus, the lions share of softswitch that is going in is in fact cable... but even these 8MM lines are still dont measure up to all the siemens line equipment out there.
mu-law 12/5/2012 | 3:37:40 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 Mu-law = Taqua/Genband PR

Well maybe.

http://www.lightreading.com/boards

Then again maybe not!

DMS600 = Someone lacking a healthy sense of shame regarding association with NT switching products
mu-law 12/5/2012 | 3:37:40 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 Primary Rate peaked 4 years ago and is now eroding to SIP trunking at a fairly rapid rate. This is all in the FCC database if you care to look.

Yes but nobody is using Class 5 softswitch products to provide SIP trunking. Its all Sonus, Cisco, LU, etc. In approximately that order. Sure PRI UNI was provided by Class 5 in the past, but SIP trunking sure isn't... and either is PRI now for that matter.

What's with the Ken Lay style retort anyway?

Actually, there's been a huge dent... The reality is that class 5 softswitching isn't mature enough yet for the bells to switch.

Okay, so how huge is this huge dent? If its only from PRI erosion, and by definition none of that is CS2K, et al, then not that big at all.

And isn't one of the major maturity issues the absence of support for line equipment and specials? Maybe they just been pulling my leg...
alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:37:40 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 mu-law writes:
Perhaps mu-law is pointing out that the very reason that non-PacketCable Class 5 VoIP has not succeeded in making a dent in the 100MM lines out there

Actually, there's been a huge dent. ...but it's been on the commercial side and the MSOs don't compete there yet. Primary Rate peaked 4 years ago and is now eroding to SIP trunking at a fairly rapid rate. This is all in the FCC database if you care to look.

The bells have already shown that they'll take no action on wireline unless or until this is solved... or they'll just overbuild new access with FTTx in the meantime, none of which is softswitch based presently BTW.

The reality is that class 5 softswitching isn't mature enough yet for the bells to switch. IMS has slowed it down even more due to the complexity of that particular architecture. At some point, it will be cheaper to forklift than the continue to be held hostage by Lucent and Nortel for legacy class 5 support contracts. The Chinese have disrupted IMS pricing and you can now buy replacement infrastructure for less than your legacy support contracts.

Thus, the lions share of softswitch that is going in is in fact cable... but even these 8MM lines are still dont measure up to all the siemens line equipment out there.

That only matters if being the incumbent in the legacy wireline deployment causes that customer to buy your VoIP solution. Henry Ford didn't buy a horse farm to win customer loyalty, did he?

alchemy 12/5/2012 | 3:37:39 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 mu-law asks:
Yes but nobody is using Class 5 softswitch products to provide SIP trunking. Its all Sonus, Cisco, LU, etc. In approximately that order. Sure PRI UNI was provided by Class 5 in the past, but SIP trunking sure isn't... and either is PRI now for that matter.

I think Sonus, Cisco, et al would be quite surprised to hear that their soft switch solutions aren't appropriate for Class 5. The Class 5/Class 4 thing gets very blurred when you're not stuffing a TDM switching matrix in the box. The conventional view that a Class 5 is lots of features and a relatively low call rate while a class 4 is very few features and a very high call rate goes away. You can scale a Class 5 to conventional Class 4 call rates merely by waiting for Moore's law to kick in.

What's with the Ken Lay style retort anyway?

In my best Richard Nixon: "I am not a crook."

Okay, so how huge is this huge dent? If its only from PRI erosion, and by definition none of that is CS2K, et al, then not that big at all.

If it's Sprint, I believe it's now 100% CS2K. ...either a media gateway to a real PRI line or a SIP trunk. It looks like PRI from the ILECs is eroding at 10% per year. This is all going to VoIP but some is certainly eroding to CLECs and IXCs acting as CLECs.

And isn't one of the major maturity issues the absence of support for line equipment and specials?

I think the bigger issues are stability and operational features. If one of these softswitch clusters goes down, it requires architect-level expertise 24x7 to sort it out. The legacy solutions have 30 years of creating stability and tools to keep the suckers up all the time. I think it will be another 5 years before today's best of breed in VoIP catches up.

To get the disruptive pricing, you're going to have to give up some pet features and specials. This isn't the old-school model where a vendor can afford to eat $100 million in NRE doing a special.
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:37:39 AM
re: Genband 86s the S4 From article; "Using its G6 media gateway, carriers can connect the proprietary line bays on the DCO or EWSD to a standards-based softswitch."

Actually G6 is already used as a small switch for FTTx applications connecting to Class 4 or 5 switches (GR303). It makes a good evolution/transition box to modernize those old large switch investments while reducing maintenance fees. While you also connect those FTTx and eyepee links to it.

OP
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