What is a Softswitch?
August 13, 2012
By Susan J. Campbell
, TMCnet Contributing Editor
A drill-down examination of the telecommunications space could easily uncover information regarding the softswitch. You may hear all about the benefits and why you want to have one in place, but that doesn’t help to explain what a softswitch is, or what it means to your organization.
In the simplest of terms, the softswitch
is the central device in the telecommunications network that is designed to connect telephone calls from one phone line to another. These phones calls tend to take place over the Internet and are supported completely by software that is running on the network. The softswitch replaced the hardware in physical switchboards that were used to route calls.
Companies often rely on the softswitch to control the connections at the junction point between circuit and packet networks. The softswitch will typically reside in a building owned by the telephone company, one that is often called the central office. This office will also have telephone trunks to carry calls.
In the network environment, the softswitch is essentially the concept of separating the network hardware
from network software. The softswitch network is considered to be more efficient and feature rich, and supports the VoIP calls that are taking place over IP networks at an increasing rate. While the softswitch is commonly the software connecting two lines, it can also be the actual device that is situated in a telephone network that will process the transmission of data.
The softswitch can also be used to replace the old method
of connecting telephone lines manually. Traditional calls made to the switchboard could be routed to the right person, but it required much effort on the part of the operator. As a result, the softswitch has been able to revolutionize telecommunications throughout the world.
The softswitch is readily comprised of the software and processors that keep track of both lines involved in the call and make sure the connection is not lost
. Some companies have better softswitches than others, but the basic technology involved will be the same on both ends. Additionally, the end-user does not physically interact with the softswitch as this platform is completely managed by the telephone company.
Softswitches can work in wired or wireless environments as they are highly malleable and are designed to work with almost any telecommunications system. They are also small and convenient so they can easily replace large, expensive switchboards and crowded rooms of staff members. With the advancements in softswitches, they are broken into the Call Agent and the Media Gateway (News
). The former serves as the brains of the operation, while the latter operates as the physical connection. They both work together to ensure connected, quality calls.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for eastbiz.com. To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Stefanie Mosca