SAN JOSE, Calif. Burgeoning interest in voice over digital subscriber line (VoDSL) as a special case of voice over Internet Protocol was evident this week, as two separate companies created partnerships intended to help drive common architectures that will channel voice over DSL systems from customer premises to telco central offices. Announcement of the PacketLoop Partners Program by AccessLAN Communications Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) and of the VoDSL Partner Program by gateway specialist Jetstream Communications Inc. (Los Gatos, Calif.) indicate the degree to which VoDSL may take center stage at the Supercomm show, opening June 7 in Atlanta.
Kris Sowalla, director of marketing at AccessLAN, said the two alliances are almost totally complementary, and suggested a possible reconciliation of their interests in the future. AccessLAN has pulled in Salix Technologies Inc. and Hypercom Inc. as partners in the voice gateway realm, with the former specializing in large mediation-switch architectures, while Hypercom drives to concentrating traditional time-division multiplexing voice channels. Partners in the Integrated Access Device space include Hypercom, ACT Networks Inc., and Netrix Corp. AccessLAN still is searching for a partner developing GR-303 gateways, a nascent product family incorporating a new standard in open circuit-switch interfaces.
Jetstream, meanwhile, is working with DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM) vendor Nokia, which acquired Diamond Lane Communications Inc. earlier this year, as well as with customer-premises equipment vendors Ramp Networks Inc. and Cabletron subsidiary FlowPoint Corp.
The intent of the two alliances mirror each other, with only some overlap in the Integrated Access Device realm. Jetstream offers voice gateways that serve as bridges between Class 5 circuit switches and DSLAMs, and wants to create a standard means of driving voice-support architectures in DSLAMs and customer-premises access systems and routers. AccessLAN, meanwhile, is trying to get many vendors of equipment in the central office, including mediation switches and GR-303 switches, to support VoDSL services in the backbone.
Jetstream has created a two-tiered partnership program, involving business partners which include OEM distributors of the Jetstream gateway and IAD manufacturers who want to offer compatible interfaces to the Jetstream systems; the group will also include marketing partners, consisting of manufacturers of complementary pieces of telco equipment who elect for joint promotion and system demonstrations.
Sowalla of AccessLAN said that the PacketLoop Partner Program will combine elements of both marketing and development deals, with an eye to presenting alternative carriers with a common topology they can use to implement new voice services. AccessLAN began life selling its DSL systems primarily to incumbent carriers, but shifted to a heavier mix of competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC) after seeing the CLECs aggressively take on the local carriers. Now, said Sowalla, many data-oriented CLECs are convinced they can take on a good portion of voice services for customers, but are confused by the proliferation of voice-gateway architectures in the market.
"The long-term goal is that the transport part of the network gets packetized, and the Class 5 switch gets subsumed into the packet data network," Sowalla said. "But we in the VoDSL world, as well as our carrier customers, are well aware that the circuit switches will be staying in the network for quite a while, and these VoDSL alliances will help show how coexistence can work."