The VoIP Peering Puzzle�Part 41: SBC Architectures�Mera Systems

MERA Systems, Inc. is part of the MERA Group, an international IT corporation that provides high technololgy products and a wide range of software development services for corporations, including Nortel, Siemens Mobile, TietoEnator (one of Europe’s largest IT services providers), and others.

Headquartered in Canada, MERA Group has over fifteen years experience in the development of Internet and Intranet applications, software development for voice and data communication systems including wireline and wireless network software, cellular and satellite systems, IP Telephony, digital signal processing and more.

The subdivision of the MERA Group, Mera Systems—with the headquarters in Toronto, Canada and a development center in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia—specializes in next generation solutions for VoIP carriers, including Class 4 and Class 5 switching platforms. MERA’s target audience is carriers in both wholesale and retail VoIP business.

The company claims to control 70 percent of the VoIP softswitch market in Russia and neighboring countries, and 4 percent of the market worldwide—with over 600 carrier-grade deployments in over 60 countries.

MERA’s product line includes IP PBX and IP Centrex systems developed in support of retail business operations, and the MERA VoIP Transit Softswitch (MVTS) systems designed for service providers. The MVTS is a carrier-grade softswitch with the gatekeeper and proxy functions that dramatically simplify VoIP peering for small and medium-size networks with up to 5 million minutes per month.

It is a single-platform solution with simple static routing and network protection capabilities, supporting both the SIP and H.323 protocols. The border control mechanisms provide a single entry point into the carrier’s VoIP infrastructure, to enable interconnection with peering partners, centralized authentication, and enhanced network security. The system can scale from 30 to 500 concurrent calls.

The larger MVTS II system is specifically designed to increase the efficiency of wholesale VoIP traffic management on large-scale networks and is targeted toward carriers running over 3 million minutes of VoIP calls per month. Built on a modular architecture, the MERA solution alleviates the difficulties of managing traffic flows on highly distributed networks by providing intelligent built-in call-routing algorithms and elaborate analysis and reporting tools.

MVTS II is a viable solution for wholesale carriers who consider price-to-quality ratio in each call route and need to react promptly to changes in the routing policies of their peers. The system is intended for carriers that would like to keep all billing and routing data in a single database (powered by Oracle), included in the system.

The MVTS II system includes a dynamic look-ahead routing engine with an impressive array of options, including least cost routing, gateway/route load, route capacity, the number of the calling/called party, day of week and time of day, and ENUM (Electronic numbering) registry lookups. This ENUM lookup capability was developed in conjunction with the Voice Peering Fabric’s ENUM Registry. This collaboration resulted in a process that allows a carrier to send a request to the ENUM Registry, analyze the response, and use the information returned to make an optimal routing decision for each particular call.

Both carrier-to-carrier and carrier-to-enterprise interoperability is strong in the MVTS II, including support for a range of H.323 and SIP dialects, bidirectional SIP/H.323 conversion, support for a wide range of codecs and conversions, including G.711 Mu-law, G.711 A-law, G.723.1, G.729 and others.

The network security capabilities are also very robust, with network topology hiding; call admission control, based upon the maximum calls on ingress or egress, or the total maximum number of calls per direction or route; plus call authorization by IP address or user name and password, included in the unit. Number translations can be applied at the ingress, egress, or within the MVTS II system. Source and destination number translations can also be performed as required by the different carriers, with source number disguising possible.

The integrated H.323 Gatekeeper and SIP Registrar functions provide zone management, registration of terminal devices, IP-to-IP Gateway and the capability to interoperate with upstream gatekeepers.

The system’s management capability provides a number of analytical processes that monitor call dynamics in real-time, based on the time of day, day of the week, QoS fluctuations, load, profitability and other parameters. The MVTS II also supports real-time alerting, including a rate plan unprofitable alert, low profit alert, routing path restriction alert, call looping alert, and others, to facilitate constant network profitability monitoring. It has a capacity for up to 10 thousand concurrent calls, a maximum new call handling latency of 100 milliseconds, and 10 million supported dial peers.

Further details on the MERA Systems 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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