NetGen Communications, Inc. today announced that it is conducting a survey of telecom-industry participants to forecast the state of the service-provider and channel market in 2016. The survey, “State of the Union: Telecom Survey 2016”, which takes two minutes to complete, available on-line at www.netgencommunications.com/survey_2016. As an incentive, all participants will receive the full report.
NetGen has successfully marketed its patented Smart ATA® for the last three years to the telecom channel, and is introducing a comprehensive product line for the SME. This survey will forecast the industry focus for 2016.
The PSTN and TDM network elements will be around for years to come. This means we’ll continue to need gateways to help save our customer’s investments in TDM PBXs, fax terminals and servers, and other network infrastructure. Today, access gateways (analog-IP) deliver over $700,000,000 in annual revenue in North America, and market growth continues at an above-3-percent rate. But there are gateways and then there are gateways. What’s the system integrator to do to understand the choices offered by the industry’s vendors.
We’re not talking about the high-capacity tandem gateways, such as the Sonus GSX series used by carriers. We’re talking about the gateways used by ITSPs and their channel partners to solve application problems, such as PBX and fax-server conversions, PSTN failover, and legacy-terminal utilization, when moving to IP. These gateways are offered by NetGen Communications/New Rock Technologies, Cisco, Patten, Grandstream, AudioCodes, Sangoma, and others. But with this plethora of choices, how does the system integrator choose?
There is a need for trunking gateways in larger enterprises and service-provider applications. Commonly offered are 1-, 2-, or 4-span units, delivering up to 120 ports. Then there are quality (more on this below), availability (redundancy), support, configuration management, and, of course, price considerations. (A 4-span unit will run $4-10K, depending on the vendor.) The greater capacities of these units means an increased emphasis on availability, with some offering redundant power supplies and certain high-availability configuration features.)
At the other end of the capacity range are the 1-4-port analog-telephone adapters (ATAs), used to adapt legacy phones and fax terminals to IP. Some of these units offer a selection of office and station interfaces for more-complex applications. (Prices range from $30-$400.)
Then, there are the mid-capacity gateways with 8-120 ports of DS-1, FXS and/or FXO interfaces. One of the major differences between vendors is the selection of external interfaces. Some are quite limited, while some, such as our MX60 and MX120 units offer fine-grained selections of combinations of FXSs and FXOs. Some vendors offer units with independently configurable capacities for interfaces (e.g. FXS or FXO) and the number of concurrent calls. You should expect to pay $30 per port and up.
And two major factors in selecting any of these gateways are quality and support. Quality can indirectly assessed by looking at what other users are buying the gateways you are considering. Our customers will agree that the New Rock/NetGen gateways are stable and reliable and certainly the most cost effective in their class. Not to mention the wide selection and fine-grained configurations of FXS and FXO ports.
As you may know, our partner in the development and production of Smart ATA is New Rock Technologies, Inc., a Delaware corporation with major operations in Shanghai. This being the case, we thought you might appreciate knowing something about New Rock.
New Rock is the leading VoIP-equipment vendor in China, accounting for over 17% of all VoIP ports installed in 2014. They did this by taking advantage of the rapid growth of the VoIP enterprise market in China that began in the late 2000s. And from its beginnings, New Rock built a reputation for high value by focusing on quality and cost effectiveness.
Their VoIP gateway products were selected by OEM and resale by partners from top-tier telecommunication vendors in China and elsewhere. The resulting volume production helped to reduce product cost and improve the consistency of the products. In the meantime, through endless interoperability testing, they proved compatibility with IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)-based core-softswitch and third-party SIP servers such as Microsoft Lync, Cisco CallManager, Broadsoft, Asterisk and FreeSWITCH.
Bing Yang and Hua Lin, who were at Convergent Networks, founded New Rock in 2002. Convergent was a Massachusetts start up developing Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP)-based trunking and SS7 signaling gateways. Inspired by the emergence of SIP and its potential of significantly reducing telephone communication cost in developing countries, they left Convergent and registered New Rock Technologies, Inc. in United States (a Delaware corporation), joined by several veterans specializing in telecommunication hardware and software engineering. The New Rock’s first SIP-FXS gateway, the MX100-AG with 48 ports was designed and developed from scratch within nine months.
In 2003 New Rock moved its operations to Shanghai, and in 2004, IDG Capital Partners, a venture-capital firm focusing on Chinese businesses, invested one-and- a-half million US dollars, and New Rock was off and running.
Enterprise users have three types of premises equipment that need WAN access: voice, fax, and everything else. Nearly all ITSPs provide voice communications and many provide fax, but few provide the other stuff, such as alarm-system connections. It’s even the case that some jurisdictions prohibit the use of IP transport for alarm systems, but that seems to be rare.
But we at NetGen know from our own experience that it can work and work well, depending on the ITSP’s metro network. NetGen’s alarm system has been on IP now for years, and we’ve never had a problem. However, our CLEC tested the route from our premises to the alarm-monitoring company. It didn’t work on the first try, but they were able to work out a solid route and get it working in one day.
So, what’s the trick?
Well, our alarm uses a low-speed asynchronous modem, so there are no PCM clock-sync problems. And the on-premises equipment was configured for baseband data. Moreover, the CLEC controls the entire route to the off-ramp/called gateway, so they were able to make the necessary adjustments.
If you control the metro route you might be able to answer your prospect’s question regarding will it work positively, but if you don’t, you’ll just have to experiment. In any event, your premises equipment will have to be configured.
Here are the settings to use with Smart ATA and the MX series gateways:
1. Register your device with the SIP provider or PBX.
2. Determine which codec is supported by your carrier, mu-law or A-law.
3. In Routing->Routing Table, add the appropriate entry:
Mu-law: FXS[p] x CODEC PCMU/20/0
A-law: FXS[p] x CODEC PCMA/20/0
Where p is the FXS port number that needs to support the POS or alarm system, and x is the number that will be dialed by the device. If you do not know the number or you want to have all numbers dialed from this port handled this way, leave the ‘x’ as-is, since this will cause the codec to apply to any dialed number from this FXS port.
4. Click Save.
Back in the ‘90s the MIPS available on a PC could only support a few channels of vocoder or modem processing, so virtually all PC-based media processing was handled by DSPs on add-in boards. Building servers that could handle only a dozen or so channels turned out to be quite expensive due to the cost of those proprietary DSP boards. But we’ve now had two decades of Moore’s Law and your mid-performance PC can handle hundreds of channels, leaving plenty of MIPS for the application. This has led some users to wonder if the only differences between using DSP MIPS or GP-processor (think RISC or Intel) MIPS are system architecture and price.
As far as the results of the media processing are concerned, the answer is no, there is no difference. The processor on the other end of the call can’t tell where those MIPS came from. But there are a few differences between the two when it comes to development cost and maintainability. It’s nearly always more expensive to develop for embedded environments, especially if you don’t have a portable media-processing framework, such as OpenMedia. And not only are host-based systems easier to develop, they are easier to maintain.
As a case in point, our HX4x and MX8A gateways share the same code on a RISC processor for both the control and data plane, but the media-processing software is different on the MX-60, MX-100, and MX-120 gateways since their density requires DSPs.