MetaSwitch Launches Full-Service Telephony Platform for Cable
TMCnet Contributing Editor
MetaSwitch has launched a new platform that claims to be an all-in-one solution for cable operators looking to either launch or upgrade existing voice and data services.
The company has dubbed its platform COMPETE!, or “Cable Operator Multiservice Platform for Enhanced Telephony Evolution.” And as the name implies, it’s designed to give operators a leg up on telephone companies, particularly in the lucrative business services market.
“From a technology perspective, this is an entire network,” said Andy Randall, vice president of marketing at MetaSwitch. “And we’re backing it up with professional services for operators who want help deploying voice for the first time or with the next step in migrating to IMS.”
The platform is built on Cisco’s IP Next-Generation Network infrastructure (IP NGN) and utilizes the unspecificed bit rate (uBR) series of cable modem termination systems (CMTS), Linksys multimedia telephone adapters, MetaSwitch’s own multimedia session control and Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes. It also uses Cisco’s Service Exchange Framework (SEF) for seamless support for Web 2.0 and .NET applications.
“Between all of us, we can cover the full breadth of service that cable operators are looking for,” Randall said. “Cable operators are looking for vendors to come in with more than just point solutions. They need help through the entire migration.”
While residential services have always been cable’s bread and butter, MetaSwitch has an eye toward putting operators into the business enterprise. The platform offers a way to tap into services like hosted private branch exchange (PBX), unified communications and converged T1 services over IP. It is compatible with Packetcable Release 2.0 and includes a middleware layer for video-based services such as on-screen caller ID.
In addition to a full suite of features and services, one of the key design goals was scalability. The platform utilizes an innovative approach that allows it to be deployed on a single, integrated chassis or as multiple distributed network elements. This allows smaller operators to grow the system is needs arise.
“A key issue for small providers is there has not been an easy way to get into a triple play environment,” Randall said. “They had to go to a lot of different vendors, but even then there are primarily only carrier-class solutions.”
MetaSwitch also offers a migration path that allows operators to convert from the integrated solution to the distributed one.
“We put in an external CMTS and take the configuration from the integrated switch deployed initially and upload it onto the distributed network for a real seamless migration,” Randall said.
MetaSwitch focuses largely on the North American market, but reports that interest in cable-based solutions is growing in Latin America as well.
Randall said one of the biggest challenges in developing the system was devising a solution that appealed to both large and small operators. For large operators, there is the benefit of a ready-made system that promises IMS and other advanced services, while smaller operators are eager to tap into the incremental revenue opportunities of voice.
“Access into the enterprise market is a key goal of both large and small operators,” he noted. “Initially, the primary cable product was video for the residential market with DOCSIS 2.0 bringing in high-speed data to meet business requirements. Now, if you add voice to that, you’ve got quite a compelling service.”
Arthur Cole is a freelance writer specializing in high-tech information and communications.