Softswitches are set to be the centrepiece of next-generation networks with the worldwide market exploding into a $5.7 billion opportunity by 2004,according to IDC.
Despite the market's immaturity, IDC's IP telephony research program manager Tom Valovic, said there is extraordinary potential for vendors with the right technology, strategy and paths to market.
"Softswitches will become the centrepiece of next-generation networks, and in the course of time will become a critical element in any service provider's overall network," Valovic said.
Because the softswitch market has many product and technology interdependencies, IDC believes most of the growth will come from associated sales of media and access gateways to service providers modifying networks for better data integration, greenfield networks and IP-convergence.
"Moving beyond the realm of voice and fax, vendors will need to take a fresh look at the services market, be aware of innovative service implementations already offered on the Web, and encourage a new mindset to avoid recycling ideas," Valovic said.
"The real market opportunity for softswitch vendors will be to develop creative and innovative services as well as to empower this development among end users." IDC's report analyses the emerging market and its effect on the Public Switched Telephone Network, and provides a technology overview, factors driving and inhibiting the market as well as revenue forecasts.
It also examines vendors competing in the market and what it will take for them to succeed.