Alaska, 49th State of the Union, is home to spectacular scenery, wildlife, and outdoor activitiesand some of the harshest winters on Earth. Yet year-round communications is essential, especially in the Arctic, which is a challenge that REDCOM Laboratories, Inc. has embraced for over a quarter of a century. With its slogan, "Meeting the Challenges of Extreme Environments," REDCOM's business has supplied equipment to over 70 percent of the telephone exchanges in rural Alaska, keeping individuals, businesses, and governments connected no matter how cold it gets outside.
Founded in 1978, REDCOM Laboratories is also unique within the telecommunications industry, in that the niche that it has carved out for itself embraces an extraordinary challengeproviding systems for deployment in rural areas where the service and support functions can come at a prohibitive price. That is, sending a technician to repair a switching system in rural Alaska in the middle of the winter may be extremely difficultif not impossibleso it is much better to have the reliability designed into the product from the start. This strategy has obviously worked quite well, as REDCOM presently operates from a 120,000 square foot facility in upstate New York, and ships its products around the globe, with system installations in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the South Pacific.
REDCOM's solution for converged voice and data networks is called TRANSip, a switching system that combines Internet Protocol (IP) and legacy platforms, while offering a clear migration path for future developments. The product supports a wide variety of international interfaces, signaling protocols, specifications, and standards, including those from ANSI, the ITU-T, Bellcore/Telcordia and the IETF. These include Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and satellite trunks; ISDN, Dual Tone Multi-frequency (DTMF) and Signaling System 7 (SS7) signaling links; and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), IP versions 4 and 6.
REDCOM considers TRANSip to be more than just a softswitch, in that it integrates other IP-centric features into its architecture. These include:
- Call Control: including legacy call management and SIP-based call setup, call control, and call termination services from within a single system.
- Media Gateway: a unified design that supports both media and protocol conversions, thus creating a seamless interface between IP and TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) environments.
- Media Gateway Control: that supports a variety of protocols, including SIP, the Real Time Protocol (RTP), and the Session Description Protocol (SDP), thus maximizing interoperability.
- Legacy Support: trunk and line interfaces to legacy systems and networks, plus modem, fax, call forwarding, caller ID, and other legacy features.
This integrated design enables the reliable functionality of the TDM network to be combined with the enhanced capabilities of VoIP infrastructures. Four significant enhanced services are then available:
- Flexible Routing: both IP and PSTN trunking schemes can be deployed, including alternate routing and emergency rerouting, which maximizes the utilization of network resources.
- Call Monitoring: provides lawful intercept and tracing for both IP and legacy subscribers, using the same platform.
- Number and Feature Portability: customers can retain or transfer their numbers and features for an easier transition to IP telephony, plus IP subscribers can continue to use the standardized tones, announcements, and other legacy features currently available.
- Billing: which collects and processes both IP and legacy call detail records, to support accurate account and billing management.
TRANSip is offered both domestically and internationally to commercial, government, and defense organizations, and can also be deployed for disaster relief efforts such as Hurricane Katrina. Further details on the REDCOM architecture and products can be found at www.redcom.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors' architectures.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 DigiNet ® Corporation, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet ® Corporation, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.