Growing demand for networks capable of offering mixed voice and data features has prompted a group of telecommunications industry veterans to announce last week the launch of Convergent Networks, aimed at providing carriers with switching products for integrated services.
The new company's first product, the Integrated Convergence Switch (ICS), which comes with the company's Service Management Gateway (SMG), is due out by the end of the year, the company announced.
With prices starting at under $US100,000, the ICS has an ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) switching-fabric core, according to Sally Bament, vice president of marketing for the new company. The ICS, however, acts as an internetworking switch, and depending on how it's configured can input ATM, TDM (time division multiplexed) and IP (Internet protocol) signals, delivering them onto an ATM backbone, Bament said.
The base price gets a carrier 2000 DS-Os, where one DS-O is a 64Kbps time slot - the equivalent of one circuit-switched telephone connection (24 DS-0s equals one T1 line). Additional DS-O ports are priced at $US25 each.
The ICS' bundled Service Management Gateway manages multiprotocol signalling, including Signaling System 7 (SS7), and provides call-management functions such as number portability and call forwarding, according to Convergent.
Convergent's primary target audience includes competitive local exchange carriers looking to deploy their own facilities, and which may not have the money of the regional Bell companies, according to Bament.
"The ICS lets competitive carriers get in the game when they may not be able to afford a Lucent Technologies or Nortel switch for $3 million," said Bament. Convergent is also hoping to attract some big incumbent carriers that are moving over to providing new services such as voice over IP, she added.