Tailored Phone Services on Tap from Broadsoft

Start-up BroadSoft is writing software that will let carriers offer tailored phone services to fit specific customer needs.

Backed by US$5 million in venture capital, BroadSoft's BroadWorks platform will create services by tapping multiple devices in carrier networks.

The platform is flexible enough to someday allow customers to fine-tune their own services, according to Michael Tessler, BroadSoft's president and CEO. For example, a customer might use a Web interface to choose a service option that forbids international phone calls at certain times of the day or blocks 900-number calls.

BroadWorks functions similarly to the way service software works in traditional carrier networks. However, interactions among devices in traditional carrier networks are proprietary, so adding new services or making changes is expensive and time consuming.

BroadWorks, on the other hand, will work with gear from multiple vendors. It will talk to other devices using standard protocols, such as Session Interface Protocol; Media Gateway Control Protocol for controlling voice-over-IP calls; and H.323 for performing call signaling and converting packets to voice.

As long as other vendors' equipment meets the standards, BroadWorks can talk to it.

Interoperability will be important to new carriers that want to offer multiple services and access technologies such as cable, digital subscriber line, digital wireless and cellular. A carrier could use BroadWorks to create services on any of those networks, eliminating the need for multiple separate software platforms.

The software is designed to create services one feature at a time by breaking the services into call application modules. One module might reject all calls from unknown parties, while another might route calls depending on time of day.

Services are created by grouping a set of call applications that define a service. Alternately, new services can be created by modifying existing modules -- a much simpler task than writing a new application from scratch, as is done with the traditional public voice network.

BroadWorks also has interface modules, which allow the software to communicate with devices controlling certain aspects of a carrier network. For example, the interfaces might connect with devices that control e-mail, the phone network or a voice mailbox.

BroadSoft plans to start beta-testing by year-end and make BroadWorks generally available in the first quarter of 2000.

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