Adtran, Inc. of Huntsville, Alabama, was incorporated in 1985, and shortly thereafter, embarked on a mission to sell networking hardware to the seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) that had been recently divested from AT&T, as well as the more than 1,300 independent telephone companies throughout the United States. Since that time, Adtran has become a leading supplier of local loop access and deployment technologies, supporting more than three million local loops worldwide. Their products support fiber optic, DS3, T1/E1, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Frame Relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), and Digital Data Service (DDS) technologies. After establishing their presence with the telcos, Adtran then expanded into the enterprise networking business, including over 500 products for Internet access, telecommuting, corporate connectivity, distance learning, video conferencing, and tele-radiology, supporting converged voice and data networks. In the 20 years since its founding, Adtran has grown into an international company with 1,700 employees, annual sales in excess of $510 Million, and offices around the globe.
Adtran's flagship product for the converged Internet Protocol (IP)-based voice/data marketplace is the NetVanta 7100, which is billed as an "Office-in-a-Box." The company's experience in both the voice and data arenas is evident in the design of this product, as it can be unpacked, plugged in, and quickly configured to deliver PBX, router, switch, firewall, Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Channel Service Unit/Data Service Unit (CSU/DSU) functions within a single, all-in-one system.
The PBX functionality is based upon the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and includes SIP-based telephony features, voice mail, an automatic attendant, caller ID, music-on-hold, and overhead paging, plus many call options, including call coverage lists, forwarding of calls to cell phones, and e-mail notification of pending voice mail. Since the system is designed to meet SIP standards, it is interoperable with SIP-compliant telephones. To increase the system flexibility, both SIP and analog stations are supported, so that network managers can implement either a pure IP or a hybrid network that incorporates both IP and analog elements. Analog devices such as modems or fax machines can connect directly to the NetVanta system, thus eliminating the need for analog-to-digital converters, which may impact system performance.
The integral switch provides 24 powered 10/100 Ethernet ports, that are compliant with the Power over Ethernet (PoE) standard, IEEE 802.3af, which saves the time and expense of running external power to attached devices, such as telephones, wireless access points, security cameras, and other IP-based devices. The system is also compliant with the IEEE 802.1p standard for Class of Service, and the IEEE 802.1q standard for Virtual LANs (VLANs), thus reducing some of the implementation issues, and optimizes traffic processing and voice quality.
In addition, the system includes private tunnel encryption for VPN tunnels, so that branch offices that are part of the same network can securely access the same telephony and data features that are available at the headquarters location. Expansion capabilities are flexible as well, with trunk interfaces including analog, T1, and ISDN Primary Rate Interface (PRI) available. The system terminates the T1 and PRI circuits using the built in CSU/DSU, and terminates high speed Internet access via DSL or cable modem using a WAN Ethernet port, which is also integral to the unit.
Two other Adtran products complement the NetVanta 7100. The NetVanta 2054 four-port switch is designed for teleworking and home office connectivity into the main network. This switch includes an integrated router/firewall/VPN/switch, with broadband Internet access via DSL or cable modem, allowing remote workers access to the same voice features, email and data servers that they would have at the headquarters location. Finally, the Adtran IP SoftPhone is a software application that designed for Windows environments, that enables VoIP communication at the desktop. Like the NetVanta 7100, the IP SoftPhone is also compatible with SIP, this minimizing interoperability challenges.
Further details on the Adtran architecture and products can be found at www.adtran.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.