DTI Harnesses XML for Telecom Apps

Digital Telecommunications Inc. (DTI) on Monday will roll out an Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based developer's kit that company officials claim will allow telecommunications companies to easily create and modify voice service applications, rather than having to rely on the relatively rigid and cumbersome programming tools provided by network infrastructure vendors. The software combines Web-based service logic and IP message distribution in such a way that the service logic is independent from the underlying message transmission, hardware, and signaling, according to Richard Graves, co-founder, chief executive officer and chief technology officer of DTI.

DTI's Extensible Service Policy (ESP) architecture is aimed at providers of voice and data services, networks system integrators, and subscribers, allowing them to create and modify services that run over existing the network infrastructure and so-called converged voice and data networks.

The architecture employs search engine technology for locating and distributing call policy data, according to company officials.

The ESP architecture supports legacy voice systems, as well as converged networks with such network devices as voice-over-IP gateways, remote-access server concentrators, edge switches, and media aggregators, according to Graves.

"One can deliver advanced services today, over existing networks. Our philosophy is to leverage Web technologies to allow carriers to offer advanced and customized services," Graves said.

"Today, services are really vendor controlled. Your central office switch has a certain subset of features, and these features are costly to change. Carriers are reliant on the vendors, but they want their want own features to differentiate their services," Graves said. "ESP changes the model of how services are delivered. Today, it's embedded systems with proprietary tools or advanced intelligent network technology."

DTI's ESP architecture employs the company's Call Policy Markup Language (CPML), an XML-based language for voice and data networks, through which developers can create and modify services in a similar fashion to generating Web pages, according to Graves.

Developers can use CPML to describe services, initially voice services, and essentially generating Web pages, on a per-subscriber basis. The pages are both machine readable by the underlying switching equipment and legible to end-users -- most likely service representatives in this case, Graves explained.

"We've created mediating software that changes the way the switches operate. It has the ability to locate service descriptions and translate then into switching commands," Graves said.

The architecture includes Service Agent software modules tailored to such underlying physical network devices as Class 4/5 switches, ATM switches, remote-access servers, PBXes, and routers. The Service Agent modules mediate signaling and interpret control, according to company officials.

An ESP Service Portal acts as a hub for service logic, and includes directory servers, a firewall, search engines, call policy servers, application servers, a billing event manager, an SNMP agent, and the CPML interpreter, according to the officials.

Within the architecture, Service Logic Elements include such data as CPML pages, IP and SS7 resident databases, and configuration directories, the officials said.

As with other XML variants, CPML is also extensible using Java, which permits the creation of complex service applications, Graves added.

Eventually, allowing for changes in the carriers' business models, these applications can be self-service for any customer with a Web browser.

"Ultimately those pages can be edited by customers -- but that's an evolutionary path, both economically and in terms of the carriers' business models," Graves said.

DTI plans to follow the voice service toolkit with tools for controlling broadband services and other technologies, such as Web radio, according to Graves.

To foster the adoption of CPML, DTI plans to submit it as a proposed standard to the World Wide Web Consortium and other groups working on network software standards.

The ESP Telecommunication Services Portal, comprising Service Agent and Service Portal functions, is now in beta testing and is slated for shipment in the fourth quarter.

Digital Telecommunications Inc., in Boca Raton, Florida, is at http://www.dticorp.com/.

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