MetaSwitch aims to rescue providers

With the economy in the pits, even major telecom equipment players have found it increasingly difficult to stay with product lines. In the service provider market, hardware providers like Lucent and Tellabs have recently abandoned their PathStar and Salix product lines, which has left some service providers stuck.

However, Alameda, Calif.-based MetaSwitch, a division of Data Connection, recently announced it is offering a rescue package for service providers offering broadband voice services that have found themselves without a future-proof platform.

Tony Downes, director of business development for MetaSwitch, said that a lot of service providers are finding that even the largest vendors cannot be relied upon to stay with a product line and stay in the space.

“(MetaSwitch) is looking toward a long-term and stable future,” Downes said. “We are privately held, owned by a trust rather than shareholders. We can look ahead and see that at least for the next year or two, Data Connection has sufficient funds to fund MetaSwitch development so that (even) at the extreme, we are not exposed.”

According to Mark Quigley, associate director of research at Brockville, Ont.-based The Yankee Group in Canada, in terms of the state of local competition, many players were hinging success on the ability to deploy local services more cost-effectively than ILECs.

“By (MetaSwitch) offering that kind of cost advantage, the idea is you gain a lot more market share,” Quigley said. “It is great to make these kinds of promises (that MetaSwitch is making), but going forward, if the downturn continues and if people stop spending, it is going to force people to re-evaluate their business lines, period, full-stop.”

Quigley added that being a privately owned company has little bearing in a market that is on a downward spiral.

“While it is an interesting proposal in reaching out to those customers that feel abandoned by their initial hardware provider, in this day and age you can’t take anything for granted anymore. The markets are dictating that people are going to have to re-investigate their business lines from top to bottom.”

As part of its rescue package, MetaSwitch plans to release the VP3000, which the company said combines broadband voice gateway and Class 5 Softswitch functions in a single carrier class system. Downes said the first release of the VP3000 will support voice over DSL, and in future releases will support a wide range of broadband voice functionality.

“It is essentially a next-generation Class 5 switch,” Downes said. “It is smaller and cheaper, and also is packet-based rather than circuit-based. Therefore it gives you the ability to move forward into the packet-based infrastructure that everyone is trying to get into.”

Quigley said that although MetaSwitch may appear to be okay now, it may be forced to make some tough decisions.

“It might be difficult for them to continue offering that kind of support if it turns out that this line of business is not possible,” Quigley said.

MetaSwitch plans to release the VP3000 in August of this year and pricing will be available upon shipping. For details, visit