In many parts of the world, it is now typical that the connections made by the soft switch are done via the internet from one IP Telephony line to another, with even the media stream able to pass directly rather than the expense of bandwidth and resource staying on-net. There is, however, still the need to be able to interface with traditional hardware based switches and to have a true control of services, Media Stream must be controlled.
Class 4 Soft switches (Tandem) are used between local offices exchanges and carriers or carrier to carrier to avoid the high costs of long-distance calls via PSTN. Class 5 Soft switches, on the other hand, can route even PSTN telephone calls, making them an ideal solution to offer End Users. However, because of the interaction with the end users, Class 5 inevitably has the features and functions of a PBX which are increasingly a part of Unified Communications.
BENEFITS OF SOFT SWITCH
Soft switches are highly favorable to more traditional methods of routing for a number of reasons, including:
- Higher scalability
- Less hardware needed, saving money and space
- Expansions or upgrades only involve new software, not a whole new product
- More affordable
- Open Standards creation, resulting in a more customized and flexible system
- Remote installation is possible
- Can route any & all types of incoming calls – IP, cable, copper, etc.
- May provide extra software-based features such as:
- Call recording
- Requires less time-invested
HOW TO CHOOSE A SOFT SWITCH
So you’ve decided that you want to upgrade to a voip soft switch, but are unsure where to start. With so many options on the market, it’s important to do research and know what to look for. We’ll help you get started. When shopping for a voip switch, keep the following features in mind:
Least-Cost Routing (LCR) is a feature that allows the soft switch to select and route to the least expensive outbound line of communication. The voip soft switch will periodically compare paths from different carriers and choose the least expensive one. This is especially useful if you or end users call a number of different companies. The least-cost route to a city in South America may be entirely different from the least-cost route to a city in India. With this feature, your voip switch will always route you to the least expensive route for that particular call.
There are a few ways to measure call capacity. It is important to ask about these measures and soft switch capacity when doing your shopping.
Busy Hour Call Attempts (BHCA) is a measurement of the number of attempted calls during the peak – busiest – hour. If the softswitch capacity does not meet or exceed the BHCA, you can expect failed calls and stress on the network. A good softswitch company will calculate their BHCA and adjust the capacity of the softswitch accordingly.
Similarly, the number of calls set up per second will give you an idea of how many incoming and outgoing calls you can have at once. Be sure to choose a softswitch that can handle the volume of calls you need. The number of simultaneous calls is another important angle to look at.
On the more technical side, the number of lines, racks, and media gateways is another measure of capacity. Again, do not make the mistake of selecting a softswitch with a capacity lower than what you need. In order for customer and your own satisfaction, the softswitch should have a capacity above and beyond what you need.
While some softswitches only include the barebones routing system, others come with incredibly useful features or add-ons. It is highly recommended to take advantage of those features. Look for a softswitch that can integrate with other modules and essentially serves as a central controller. Some useful add-ons include:
- SIP PROXY - A SIP Proxy is an indispensable softswitch feature that will allow routing of not only IP telephony calls but also traditional PSTN calls. If you wish to use your softswitch with end users, this feature is required.
- PRESENCE SERVERS - A Presence Server feature will allow enhanced communication between users. It gathers information about connectivity and availability, giving users alternative ways to communicate. With this feature you will be able to select what to share and with whom.
- BILLING - A softswitch with an included billing feature will save you ample time, money, and resources. It will automatically bill users based on calls. If you don’t want to look for and spend on separate billing software, look for a softswitch that includes a billing module or add-on.
- REPORT GENERATION - Similarly, softswitches may include a report generation module that will automatically provide you with statistics about calls. Rather than buying software or paying additional employees to determine and report call statistics, look for a softswitch that will do this for you.
Finally, be sure to select a softswitch that is customizable and flexible. In today’s market, finding an open source option should not be difficult. This will allow you to customize the softswitch to your needs and those of your end users. Save money and time by getting a solution made just for you.