The PSTN is dead. Or is it?

Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

The PSTN is dead. Or is it?


The PSTN is dead. We all know this because all we hear about is IP and government-backed PSTN sunset requirements. Right? If that is actually the case, then when Dialogic sells a softswitch, why do we also still usually sell media gateways as part of the overall solution? (To be fair, we also sell session border controllers, too, as part of those deals, but gateways are still included.) And we’re still responding to plenty of RFPs where modern gateway requirements are included. So, yes, while the gateway market is not near the $1 billion range it was years ago, and it’s still declining, it remains pretty sizable. The infrastructure edge market is comprised of SBCs, Diameter signaling controllers and gateways these days. Yes, still gateways!

So what’s going on? You might have the impression that all the PSTN ports are used, they are not growing, and any gateways that need to be there are already installed. So, why is there even a gateway market? And why are RFPs still talking about gateways?

It’s pretty simple. At the most basic level, the PSTN is not going away anytime soon, so TDM traffic will continue to exist. The infrastructure exists, and as long as it works, it will need ways to successfully connect user traffic. As the IP network undergoes quite a bit of transformation, the gateways that connect the changing IP network to the existing PSTN network need to be upgraded. Or, as the  new wave of networks modernize, new softswitch business evolves and creates new gateway business.

What are some of the requirements that would necessitate a gateway market in the first place? Well, there are always new codecs coming into play, such as HD Voice codecs, or Opus from WebRTC land, that need to be converted to TDM. And there are new IP network requirements such as IPv6, higher speed Ethernet interfaces and SRTP that need to be accounted for. That is why carriers are still buying gateways and will be for some time.

Someday we will be living in an all-IP world, but until then, long live the gateway.  

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