Vendor Network Architectures�Part XXXIII: UTStarcom

UTStarcom is a designer and manufacturer of IP and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)-based wireline, wireless, optical, and switching solutions, based in mainland China. The company was the result of the merger between Unitech Telecom, Inc. and Starcom Networks, Inc., which created the new corporate identity UTStarcom. The firm has been extremely successful in China, with their products currently deployed by over 800 of the 2,400 local telecom bureaus, and over 50 million wired and wireless lines installed. From that base, they have expanded their operations to include Africa, India, Japan, Latin America, Taiwan, and Vietnam, with their United States headquarters located in Alameda, California. The company was founded in 1991, and presently has approximately 7,400 employees, and $2 billion in annual revenue.

UTStarcom is active in many key areas of communications technologies, anchored by their IP-based mSwitch ™ platform. For example, they offer more than 20 models of wireless handsets, including Wi-Fi, CDMA, and GSM-compatible models. These range from low-cost, value models to high-end, data-capable units and have become quite popular in China—the largest handset market in the world. For the wireless carrier market, they offer second-generation, IP-based CDMA and third-generation (3G) solutions based upon the 3GPP standards. In the broadband arena, they provide Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) and Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) solutions supporting IP-enabled voice and multimedia solutions.

The UTStarcom softswitch is based upon a distributed, three-tier architecture, which includes a Media Processing lower layer, Control and Management mid layer, and a Service Creation upper layer. The softswitch functions reside in the mid and upper layers. The Control and Management layer provides media control and management, session control functions, and multi-protocol Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and Internet Protocol (IP) signaling. At the Service Creation layer, network-centric functions such as accounting, authentication, billing support, directory mapping, and web provisioning are performed. One of the greatest advantages of this approach is system redundancy, which allows the system to continue operation if one component fails. In addition, the softswitch is built with an open design that does not rely upon one particular protocol, standard, or access technology, instead providing support for a number of industry standards, including the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force; and the Signaling System 7 (SS7) and H.323 protocols, developed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The Control and Management layer is implemented in Session Agents, which are collaborative software modules. The SS7 Signaling Gateway module provides mediation between the SS7 signaling functions (used with the PSTN), and the SIP signaling functions (used with VoIP networks). The SIP Proxy Server works with SIP gateways and endpoints, and provides SIP proxy functions. The Protocol Mediator provides SIP and H.323 protocol operations.

The Service Creation layer is implemented in back-end servers, which deliver network-centric services. The Accounting Server is responsible for accounting and Call Detail Recording (CDR) functions, including call-specific information that is used to monitor, troubleshoot, and analyze network traffic. The Authentication and Rating Server handles subscriber authentication and service personalization, identifying legitimate subscribers and maintaining records of each customer’s account balance and service privileges. These profiles enable personal mobility, which allow customized service to follow the end users. The Billing Support Server enables the creation of system-level CDRs, and the transfer of these records to other billing systems. The Directory Mapping Server performs translation and routing functions, such as the translation of a telephone number to an IP address, or a Domain Name System (DNS) name. The Web Provisioning Server provides web browser access to the softswitch, to manage and maintain the IP telephony applications using a intuitive web interface.

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

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 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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