While much of the work in VoIP systems and networks takes place in North America, there is a substantial interest from both users and vendors in this technology from the other side of the Atlantic. Although North Americans may not want to admit it, many of the technical innovations in the last few decades have had their roots in Europe. One clear example is the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), which, for many years enjoyed much more popularity with both end users and carriers in Europe than in North America. Another example is next generation wireless systems, especially the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) networks, which are much more widely deployed, and which benefit from inter-carrier relationships in Europe much more than in North America. Perhaps these are two examples of the European Union’s ability to unite their member countries (at least from a communications perspective). In any event, many of the international standards bodies are headquartered in Europe, including the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), www.itu.int, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), www.iso.org, (both in Geneva, Switzerland), and the Third Generation Partnership (3GPP), www.3gpp.org, (in Cedex, France), which may also influence the European community to invest more heavily in next generation technologies.
One example of a solid European communications company with over a century of technological innovations is Siemens AG, headquartered in Berlin and Munich, Germany. Siemens was founded in Berlin in 1847 by Werner Siemens and his business partner Johann Georg Halske. The foundation for the business was the pointer telegraph invented by Werner Siemens. With the discovery of gutta-percha as an insolating material for marine cables, the Siemens firm opened up the way to transcontinental telecommunications. It rapidly grew into a renowned corporation and was awarded the first major international telecommunications projects: In1870, the Indian-European telegraph line was opened between London and Calcutta, and in 1875 the first transatlantic cable between the USA and Ireland was commissioned. A special cable laying ship, the Faraday, was built for this project. Further milestones on the road to becoming one of the most important suppliers on the global telecommunications market included setting up the first automatic telephone exchange (1909) and the first telephotography line (1927). Today, with over 450,000 employees worldwide, approximately $100B in annual revenues, and customers in over 190 countries, Siemens develops products for the information technology, communications, power, automation and control, transportation, medical, and lighting industries.
The Siemens product portfolio for next generation switching is called SURPASS, and includes four building blocks: switching, access, options, and network management. The SURPASS switching products are focused on the carrier market, and have been adopted by over 70 network operators worldwide. These products include:
- hiE 9200: a switching system that integrates the functionalities of the Siemens EWSD switching system, providing a migration path from TDM to next generation switching.
- hiQ 8000: a softswitch that provides the platform for next generation networks, while supporting multiple signaling protocols, including SS7, H.323, and SIP.
- hiS: a standalone Signaling Transfer Point, to handle SS7 over TDM, SS7 over ATM, and SS7 over IP signaling, thus bridging the gap between wireline, wireless, and next generation networks.
- hiR: a family of resource servers, which provide announcements and user-interactive dialogues, and support the MGCP/MEGACO interfaces.
- hiG: a family of media gateways, that interface between the existing TDM network and the next generation IP network, supporting voice, data, fax, modem, and ISDN traffic.
- hiD: high-speed packet switches, that integrate ATM, IP, TDM, frame relay, and Ethernet technologies into a multi-service platform.
- hiX: multi-function DSLAMs (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexers) for deployment in access and backbone networks.
- hiT: an optical platform for high bandwidth transport within metropolitan and core networks.
As the product list above indicates, Siemens provides a very comprehensive solution that provides carriers a smooth transition from current to next generation IP technologies. Further details on the Siemens architecture and products can be found at www.siemens.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.