Many firms take the approach of concentrating in a single product or product line, and focus on making that product superior to anything that the competition has to offer. Newport Networks, Ltd., founded in 2000, has been taking that approach in the Session Border Controller market. Newport Networks is headquartered in the United Kingdom, but has offices in Europe, North America, and Asia, and employees approximately 120 worldwide, with 70 of those devoted to engineering functions.
The Newport Networks strategy is aimed at addressing the rapid expansion of the VoIP marketplace, which some analysts predict will grow to over 130 million regular users by 2009. Three key markets have been identified:
- Broadband Residential Services: where the telephone service is an adjunct to other home-based communications, such as Internet access, premium television and pay-per-view
- Incumbent Network Upgrades: where existing telephone providers swap out their core Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) switching equipment and replace it with a more efficient IP-based solution.
- Multimedia Application Delivery: where new forms of applications, from stock quotations to movies, are delivered over both fixed and wireless IP-based networks.
Newport Networks' engineers must be accomplishing a great deal, as they recently won the Frost & Sullivan 2006 IP Communications Next-Generation Carrier Infrastructure Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award, for their model 1460 Session Border Controller (SBC). They also claim to be the first independent company to achieve ISO9001:2000 certification for a SBC product. In presenting the award, Frost & Sullivan stated "Newport Networks has demonstrated the 1460 session border controller to have a range of future proof capabilities including separated signaling and media, carrier class architecture, strong security capabilities, and rigorous standards compliance." Let's dig into that architecture and see where all those accolades come from.
To briefly review, a session border controller enables peering and interconnect between distinct network operators, and also allows managed IP-based voice and multimedia services to be securely delivered to both business and consumer end users. A typical SBC therefore has two key functions, signaling processing and media processing. The signaling processing function utilizes the Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, to establish and terminal calls. The media processing function uses the Real Time Protocol (RTP) and the Real Time Control Protocol (RTCP) to transport media sessions. The signaling and media control functions communicate using the Megaco/H.248 protocol. The architecture of the Newport Networks 1460 SBC allows the device to operate in one of two modes: as a single node, where both signaling and media processing operate in the same device; or as physically separated nodes, where one SBC handles the signaling and another handles the media processing, with the Megaco/H.248 protocol providing the communication in between. This flexibility is perhaps the key to the Newport Networks' architecture, as it allows the relationship between the signaling and media nodes to be one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-one. This provides four key benefits:
- Scaling: service providers can begin with an entry level system supporting 5,000 concurrent calls, and grow that network to one that will support 100,000 concurrent calls (with the single node system) or 200,000 sessions for distributed architectures.
- Capacity: processor and interface resources are independent, allowing the overall platform to be optimized for either processor-intensive applications or bandwidth-intensive applications.
- Third Party Management: the use of the Megaco/H.248 protocol enables other devices, such as third-party softswitches, to control the SBC media services.
- Distributed Deployment: the physical separation of the signaling and media functions allows the operators to centralize the signaling functions, while still deploying the media control to the edge of the network.
In addition, the 1460 SBC complies with the architectural requirements for the 3GPP IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), for fixed/wireless network integration (see www.3gpp.org). Further details on the Newport Networks architecture and the 1460 SBC product can be found at www.newport-networks.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.