The VoIP Peering Puzzle�Part 30: SBC Architectures�Newport Networks

Newport Networks. Ltd., headquartered in Caldicot, South Wales, UK, has a very single-minded corporate focus: It designs and delivers Session Border Controllers and Border Gateways.

Managed by former founders and executives of networking giants Mitel Corporation and Newbridge Networks Corporation, it would appear that these industry veterans have looked into the future, and determined that a narrow—instead of a broad—product focus is the optimum business strategy.

Founded in 2000, Newport Networks has designed its product range to allow a clean migration path from stand-alone SBCs to distributed, IMS-based session management solutions. Newport Networks’ technology is used by service providers that are preparing to deploy next-generation networks; those that are looking for best-of-breed components for their IMS implementation; or those that are simply looking for the right product to interconnect their VoIP networks.

The company employs about 65 people, with those individuals primarily engaged in research and development activities. Corporate headquarters and research facilities are located in the UK, with additional offices in Beijing, Paris, and the United States.

Newport Networks’ product architecture is based on two hardware platforms—dubbed the 310 and the 1460—that utilize common cards and software. This flexibility allows the company to offer their customers a range of very scalable solutions. Both of these products can be deployed in one of two modes: Integrated or Distributed.

With the integrated architecture, the system functions as a single node (a session border controller) that contains both the signaling processing (the border controller function) and the media processing (the border gateway function). Internal communication between these two components utilizes the Megaco/H.248 protocol.

In the distributed architectural model, the border control and border gateway functions are physically separated, but logically linked using the Megaco/H.248 protocol for communication. This architecture allows a great deal of flexibility, as the relationship between controllers and gateways can be one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-one. The scaling factors increase as well, starting with an entry-level system that supports 1,000 concurrent calls, and extending to a distributed architecture that can scale to over 195,000 sessions for peering applications.

The 310 Border Gateway (BG) platform is designed for use in highly distributed networks. It provides media control at IP-to-IP interconnect, peering, and access locations under the control of the 1460 Border Controller, or via a third-party softswitch using an H.248 interface. The 310 BG provides the ability for Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and H.323 traffic to traverse corporate, consumer, and core network firewall devices; enforces quality of service (QoS) requirements; and assures regulatory compliance and lawful intercept of media. The system is packaged in a 4U 19-inch chassis, and can support from 1,000 to 35,000 concurrent media sessions, with a delay less than 16 microseconds. At the subscriber edge of the core network, it provides the ETSI TISPAN Access to Core Border Gateway Function (A/C-BGF) capabilities, and the Interconnect Border Gateway Function (I-BGF) at the interconnect points.

The 1460 platform can be configured in three ways: as a Border Gateway (BG), as a Border Controller (BC), or as a Session Border Controller (SBC). It is packaged in a 21U 19-inch chassis. This chassis-based hardware allows customers to configure systems with increased bandwidth or increased processing power as demanded by each application. In many cases, the re-configuration can be as simple as another software load.

The 1460 Border Gateway has similar functionality to its smaller cousin the 310 BG, but with an expanded capacity for up to 160,000 concurrent media sessions. In addition, it may be deployed in either a non-redundant or redundant mode. When in non-redundant mode, the controlling BC or softswitch redirects media sessions to an alternative BG media resource if a failure is detected. In redundant mode, the 1460 BG is provisioned with no single point of failure in either software or hardware.

The 1460 Border Controller becomes part of a distributed SBC architecture, controlling one or more BGs using the Megaco/H.248 interface. This yields a physical separation of signaling and media, allowing centralized signaling control and distributed media control. The unit is designed for carrier-grade applications with no single point of failure, and claims system availability in excess of 99.999 percent. The 1460 BC can scale between 5,000 and 190,000 signaling sessions, and process up to 1,000 calls per second. It also complies with the ETSI TISPAN standards, acting as a TISPAN Interconnect Border Control Function (IBCF).

The 1460 Session Border Controller enables peering and interconnections between network operators. The system can be configured as a combined signaling and media session border controller, or separating the signaling and media streams and using the Megaco/H.248 interface. It can handle between 5,000 and 100,000 concurrent calls, with call processing performance up to 600 calls per second. It complies with the ETSI TISPAN standards, providing the Core Border Gateway Function (C-BGW) at the subscriber edge of the core network; and an Interconnect Border Control Function (IBCF), and an Interconnect Border Gateway Function (I-BGF) at the interconnect points. The 1460 chassis also offers carrier-class redundancy features: dual power supplies, dual disks, dual control and switching, dual fans, active/standby processors and link aggregation.

Further details on the Newport Networks architecture and products can be found at Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors’ SBC architectures.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2007 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved

Author’s Biography
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.

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