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Optical/IP

What Alcatel Did With Avarox

One of the oddities of the session border controller market is that it's populated by a bunch of noisy startups, and, so far, none of them have been snapped up by the incumbent vendors.

None of them, that is, apart from Avarox Technologies, which was acquired by Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) in January 2003 and has been exceedingly quiet ever since (see Alcatel Buys Some VOIP Security).

A little sleuthing by Light Reading has revealed its fate. Avarox's technology is now incorporated in a product called the 5430 Session Resource Broker (SRB), a server-based product that Alcatel offers as part of two ranges: the IP Offload range, which includes its softswitches and media gateways; and the IP Telephony range, which includes many of the same products but also includes enterprise VOIP solutions.

Alan Mottram, president of Alcatel's fixed solutions division, says the vendor acquired people and technology, and integrated them into the next-generation product portfolio, though not all the people were retained. Now the technology has been incorporated into the SRB, which has "been shipping in reasonably low volumes so far."

The SRB is not a standard session border controller, either. While products from players such as Acme Packet, Kagoor Networks, Netrake Corp., and NexTone Communications Inc. perform multiple functions, such as IP network traversal and security, Mottram says the "most visible application [of the SRB] is its ability to allow users to boost the bandwidth available on a per session basis."

That puts it up against the sort of technology that Siemens Information and Communications Networks Inc. is providing to BT Group plc (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA) for its VOIP service (see BT Does VOIP – With Strings Attached).

Mottram acknowledged Siemens's involvement with BT, but suggested (though wouldn't confirm) that the U.K. carrier might be looking at the SRB in the context of its next-gen network (known as the 21CN) trials, in which Alcatel is involved (see Vendors Detail Gear in BT VOIP Trials).

He adds that BT refers to the functionality provided by the SRB as "application-defined QOS, or ADQ." How nice.

Mottram says that the product is "gaining fair acceptance" from Alcatel's carrier customers and that a "reasonably significant [customer] announcement will be made in the next few quarters."

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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