NetSpeak offers carriers Interconnect Gatekeeper

According to NetSpeak Corp., voice-over-IP (VoIP) carriers need to overcome the challenge of scaling their networks to gain voice revenue from legacy telecom networks.

To help them along, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based company last month announced the launch of its Interconnect Gatekeeper, an enhancement to the latest version of its iTel platform.

The Interconnect Gatekeeper enables VoIP carriers to better manage their networks and add new points of presence (POPs), according to the company.

“If you look at a lot of the voice-over-IP networks that have been built to date…they’re relatively small scale. These are companies who are trialing the technology or who are new to the industry,” explained Scott St.Clair, the vice-president of communications at NetSpeak. “What’s happening now is…they’re starting to scale their networks. They’re starting to add more points of presence to their networks.”

The problem that carriers are facing is, as they add more POPs, reprogramming every gateway to recognize every other gateway on the network becomes an onerous task, he explained. Carriers are looking for a mechanism to centralize the management of all of their gateways.

The company’s “suite of Gatekeeper and Route Server programs can be used to control a very large scale voice-over-IP network,” he said, thereby facilitating the whole process.

The Interconnect Gatekeeper essentially provides a single point of contact between multiple domains or networks, he explained, so that it becomes easier to interface to another network and to do termination agreements.

“Basically, from a telephony point of view, it allows for a hierarchical dial planning,” St.Clair explained. He noted that part of the reason the company decided to make this offering available was because customers were asking for the ability to not only connect with other domains, but “also to communicate with non-Cisco gateways.”

Burlington, Mass.-based Genuity Inc., formerly GTE Internetworking, sells wholesale VoIP network access to voice application service providers (ASPs). It has been using the Interconnect Gatekeeper since August, although it is not fully deployed yet, according to Jeff Cayer, senior service line manager for VoIP at Genuity.

The company launched a new service last March called ESP Direct, Cayer explained. Genuity has a large inventory of local phone numbers or direct inward dial (DID) numbers across the U.S. for its enhanced service provider customers.

“So if they provide unified messaging, they can provide those (phone numbers) to their end users. The end users call up these phone numbers, traverse our network, and we drop it off at our customer’s service platform. And one of the difficult things we were having issue with was managing those DIDs on the gateways,” Cayer said. “So what NetSpeak is helping us out with is, we’re going to use them for the management of that, at least in the first phase.”

Genuity will then be able to map what phone number goes to which customer, so it knows where it needs to drop it off, he explained.

“I think the key thing is, you only have so much room on a gateway flash memory to manage DIDs, so what that’s going to allow us to do is alleviate that problem,” Cayer said. “Because as our inventory of local phone numbers grows, we would eventually run out of space on the gateway. That’s going to allow us to continue to scale our business, which we’re doing very dramatically.”

So far, Genuity has had no problems at all. Cayer indicated that the testing phase went well. He said he would like to see the product used in the future to help the company route and do other functions that other Gatekeepers are being used for now, as a different source, he said.

“As we continue to move some of our DID dial pairs off our gateways and onto their platform, it’s going to allow us to maybe offer some of our customers the ability to use IVRs (interactive voice response systems) that sit on our gateways. So if you’re a unified messaging provider, and I call your DID, now Genuity can have an IVR that sits on the gateway so the quality is much better, the bandwidth is safe for our customers, and it’s a much quicker set-up time for the end user.”

Pricing for the Interconnect Gatekeeper is negotiated depending on the package selected, on a per-port basis. The iTel platform 3.0 is available now, which includes the Interconnect and Infrastructure Gatekeepers, as well as the company’s Route Server. NetSpeak is on the Web at