Telecom service providers – rural or otherwise – are looking for ways to bring next-gen VoIP technology to their customer service areas. They seek a low-risk, flexible and cost-effective way to take advantage the many benefits and competitive advantages of IP-based services, while leveraging their existing investment in legacy systems.
One company serving this area is REDCOM, which has designed and manufactured state-of-the-art, high-quality communications equipment since 1978. REDCOM (News - Alert) products include public and private network systems, ISDN systems, legacy systems, IP/VoIP-based systems with an integrated SIP Call Manager, Media Gateway, and Media Gateway (News - Alert) Controller, tactical systems, programmable platforms, and test equipment. With REDCOM’s platforms, even small, rural service providers can follow a phased approach, creating new services at their own pace.
“There are three kinds of carriers,” said Klaus Gueldenpfennig, president and founder of REDCOM, “ILECs, CLECs and pure long-distance type carriers, which I would place in tandem and transmission-type structure, the others being more central office and consumer-oriented. The big surprise is what’s <ITALICS>not<ITALICSEND> happening.”
“The three main business areas we serve are the military, rural/public exchange and the international market,” Gueldenpfennig said. “To a large extent we have a joint hardware platform that essentially is what you today call a softswitch. Incidentally, I challenge you to define what a softswitch really is. Some are ‘softer’ than others. In any case, we have successfully integrated the so-called ‘new’ technology in providing VoIP in the same fully-integrated platform as TDM, because the old-fashioned systems aren’t going to go away. Many of them are still out there.
“They aren’t any more on a 40-year depreciation schedule, but many people struggle to get them depreciated over 20 years,” he continued. “A lot of them tie into not just the public exchange, and central office, but also what ‘hangs around’ it, such as the outside plant. When you enter the rural areas, things tend to be spotty – this business of fiber-to-the-home is neat, but you’ve got to find it out there. We’ve noticed that although we offer VoIP integrated into the system, providers seem to be very hesitant to install it right now. They want the option to deploy it later, since they tend to not find many subscribers. Part of that is because VoIP phones are much more expensive and they use local power, so you can’t power them from the central office. Utility power tends to fail more often in rural areas than in cities.”
“So the infrastructure is there: the telephone poles, wires, and everything,” says Gueldenpfennig, “but it’s very tough to insert new equipment into the rural areas and have it economically absorbed through fee structures. It takes a long, long time out there. But we do have some installations out there ready for IP in rural U.S. areas, Canada and South Pacific areas such as the Cook Islands. They just have to plug in a card, run the software and they’re in business. But they have very few VoIP subscribers. The markets are not really that big in rural areas, so they need to achieve some economy of scale by sharing a common platform for many market segments. It’ll be a while before we see many VoIP subscribers out there in the rural market. But VoIP will in fact be fairly prevalent in the suburban market.”
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Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group. To read more of Richard’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan