PORTLAND, Ore. Wireless network operators faced with providing more IP services to mobile handset users have been targeted by IP-only systems specialists who are seeking to link conventional circuit switches and the Internet's data-packet switches.
Stoke Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), for instance, collapses the security gateway, session manager, deep-packet inspector and quality-of-service functions into a single add-on device that offers IP services--from YouTube and MySpace to Google and voice-over-IP--to as many as 100,000 mobile handsets.
"Mobile network operators are getting deluged with content [but] most of today's mobile infrastructure was not dimensioned for these real-time, high-bandwidth services," said Keith Higgins, vice president of marketing at Stoke.
Stoke's Session Exchange (SSX) system, a hybrid hardware/software solution, is intended to fit between an Internet backbone and a network operator's existing application-subscriber control and management systems.
According to Stoke, SSX integrates circuit-switched voice service with packet-switched IP service for 2G and 3G mobile users. It also provides a path for mobile users to migrate to 4G devices and faster Wi-Fi and WiMax connections.
Currently, for instance, iPhone users must leave the AT&T network when using Wi-Fi capabilities of their iPhones. Stokes claims its SSX family will enable 3G and 4G handsets to switch from circuit-switched networks to faster Wi-Fi and WiMax packet-switched networks while remaining connected to the same mobile carrier.
SSX allows "network operators to set policies for a range of things, including quality-of-service, capacity, price and subscriber application," said Bruce Van Nic, product manager for SSX. "By consolidating functions, we reduce the number of boxes a network operator needs by five to one, power consumption by [a factor of] six to one and cost by as much as 10 to 1."
To enable smooth upgrades to higher-throughput 4G devices, Stokes claims its future systems will use the same interface as SSX, and also will extend service to handsets on WiMax networks.
"SSX is typically deployed today as a gateway between fixed and mobile networks, but it also provides the foundation for future 4G nodes. It is a stepping stone to 4G for network operators because it is compatible with the higher throughput 4G-only platforms we have under development," said Higgins.
Stoke was launched with $50 million in venture capital from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures and Reliance Technology Ventures Ltd.