Sonus boosts softswitch density

Sonus Networks Monday announced enhancements to its GSX9000 media gateway/softswitch combination that enable the product to handle more than twice as many voice calls as before.

Two new modules for the GSX9000 enable service providers to switch more calls per chassis between traditional voice networks and packet-voice networks. That translates into lower costs because service providers don't have to buy and manage more chassis, Sonus claims. It also means less space is required to house the equipment, the vendor says.

One of the modules provides a single channelized OC-3 port that can handle 2,016 separate circuit-switched phone calls at a time over fiber links. Sonus already had an OC-3 card, but this new version supports STM-1 framing, the version of SONET used in Europe and Asia.

The second module is a three-port T-3 card that also supports 2,016 calls and is designed to connect to copper trunk lines. Previously, Sonus had a single-port T-3 card. In addition to the physical ports, the cards include software that cancels echoes, as well as processes ISDN signaling, channel association signals and call announcements.

A GSX9000 configured with redundant cards can switch 18,144 calls at a time between circuit and packet networks. The previous limit was 7,392.

Sonus won't disclose the price for the cards, but says the GSX9000 costs about $85 per voice channel.

Until these new cards were released, Sonus faced attacks from competitors, such as Santera Systems Inc., which claimed the GSX9000 lagged behind in capacity, says Teresa Mastrangelo, a senior analyst with RHK.

"This addresses that concern and it is no longer an issue," she says. Even so, competitor Telica Inc. claims its Plexus 9000 chassis supports 91,392 calls.

Sonus has also upgraded the software for its Insignus Softswitch to support eight more versions of traditional telephone signaling used in other countries.

The software also now lets service providers configure Sonus gear to support phone-numbering systems in other countries. Before, Sonus supported North American and Japanese numbering systems, but for service providers in other countries using other systems, Sonus had to configure the equipment for them. Now, service providers can configure it themselves.

The software also now enables pre-provisioning alternate call routing that kicks in when primary routes fail. It also supports caller-name delivery by using the SS7 signaling network to tap databases that store caller information.

Mastrangelo notes that while Sonus and other major softswitch vendors are U.S.-based, a lot of the interest in them is from service providers in other countries.

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