RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — ITXC, one of the largest international voice call carriers in the world, is banking on Cisco Systems to build its next-generation network.

Further, ITXC is going to gut its standard public switched telephony network in favor of Voice over Internet Protocol, a means of digitizing voice calls into packets. And Cisco equipment will handle it.

VoIP is still a relatively new phenomenon, being around for less than a decade. So when ITXC, ranked by TeleGeography as one of the largest international voice carriers which sells services to other companies and is the market share leader in international VoIP calls, chose Cisco, the firm knew it had to deliver quality calls. After all, voice is all it sells.

“ITXC sells international long distance voice services solely,” John Landau, executive vice president of product management, tells Local Tech Wire.” We focus on our core competency and value proposition: PTN (public telephone network) Voice Services over the Internet. We know and create value for voice, we use data to transport and manage it.

“When a voice called is carried over the Internet using VoIP, technically this ‘packetized’ call is data. However, part of ITXC’s success is owed to its focusing exclusively on voice services, and only on a wholesale basis.”

In announcing the deal, which the companies describe as the world’s biggest VoIP project so far, ITXC also said other reasons for selecting Cisco and VoIP were lower capital expenditures and operating expenditures.

ITXC says the moves reflect its decision to deploy a “next generation” network (NGN) based on VoIP deployment. According to Kelly Ahuja, vice president of marketing for carrier systems solutions at Cisco, the move means carriers such as ITXC will be able to offer not only quality VoIP calls but others services that can augment standard voice revenues.

“We have several offerings that fall into the category of next generation networks for voice,” he explains. “We have a family of media gateway platforms in our NGN portfolio as well as corresponding softswitches and signaling gateways. The Cisco VIA implementation used in ITXC is built around AS5000 Universal Gateways and the PGW 2200 Softswitch. It is Cisco’s NGN offering for International Long Distance Providers such as ITXC.”

Cisco’s NGN services include:

  • Prepaid and postpaid calling card services
  • National and international transport
  • Termination services for application service providers (ASPs)
  • Voice mail and unified communications
  • Dial access

Cisco also says service providers such as ITXC can earn additional revenues by offering more services, such as fax.

Addressing quality concerns

But the key to VoIP deployment is reliability, and Ahuja insists Cisco hardware and software address concerns about VoIP, such as latency and quality.

“Yes, the high-performance design of Cisco AS5000 Voice Gateways minimizes delay during the voice packetization process,” he explains. “Cisco quality-of-service — provide a low-latency, high-reliability path for sensitive voice traffic through today’s networks. Based on Cisco routing technology, Cisco gateways provide the necessary tools to deliver high-quality voice over an IP network.”

Cisco has developed specific tools that insure voice packets are not lost and are given required priority, he says.

Winning a recognized name client

Consumers worldwide don’t see the name of ITXC as a possible choice for carrying long distance and international calls. That’s because it is a wholesaler, providing services to retailers who re-brand ITXC as their own. And Ahuja says ITXC’s decision is an important one for Cisco’s commitment to VoIP services.

“Established in 1997, ITXC is one of the world’s largest, most experienced VoIP service providers, not a new market entrant,” Ahuja says. “ITXC selected Cisco as their vendor for the next generation of their network because Cisco VIA (voice infrastructure and applications solutions) provides a field-proven and time-tested VoIP solution that is highly scalable to meet ITXC’s long term growth requirements. Used by hundreds of carriers, Cisco VIA is an open, standards-based infrastructure that delivers interoperability and compatibility with traditional PSTN networks as well as the world’s largest VoIP networks.”

Other Cisco VOIP customers include SingTel, BT (British Telecom), China Unicom and Telecom of Thailand.

A key component of ITXC’s deployment is use of Cisco “softswitches” for handling network traffic.

“To build robust networks using traditional switches, the number of connections required to link the switches together grows exponentially as new switches are added to the network,” Ahuja explains. “This is expensive and time consuming. With traditional switches, a single voice call can tie up multiple ports on intermediate switches. With Cisco VoIP solutions it is possible to establish new routes quickly, eliminating many intermediate switches, which leads to lower capital and operating costs.

“Connecting a new VoIP point of presence to the Internet allows service providers like ITXC to take advantage of a fully meshed network at a much lower cost and in a more scalable way than a traditional TDM (time division multiplexing) switched network.”


Rick Smith is managing editor of Local Tech Wire.