Legacy switch replacement, replacing TDM equipment, or older softswitches with a future-proof cloud-based network is a business necessity for all providers.
Technology is constantly evolving and influencing every industry. Day by day, innovative new software and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are emerging and creating opportunities for communication service providers (CSP’s) to simplify operations and reduce costs.
In today’s battleground of greater competition for voice service, service providers who continue rely on a legacy softswitch into 2022 are at an elevated risk of service interruptions and shrinking revenue. The continued use of TDM-based networking has become increasingly challenging, with shocking price increases ranging from as much as 30% to 100% for both Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) ports and access circuits.[i]
Many obsolete switches still support significant revenue streams for voice — which is risky for providers. As systems reach end of life and failure rates increase, the cost per subscriber will rise due to fixed operational costs and legacy voice customer turnover. Service providers using outdated equipment risk service disruptions and declining sales due to:
Service providers must, at minimum, keep pace with security and compliance regulations and market demand for new UCaaS and collaboration solutions.
A Regulation Example
Prime examples include the latest enhanced 911 (E911) federal regulations like Kari’s Law and RAY BAUM’s Act, which went into full effect on January 6, 2022. Together, these laws were designed to ensure the public has greater access to emergency services and improve the potential for better emergency response outcomes — no matter what communications solution is used.
Legacy IMS and softswitches will struggle to quickly adapt multi-line telephone system (MLTS) — like those used in office buildings, hotels, hospitals, and schools — to send the caller’s dispatchable location to the nearest public safety answering point (PSAP) for all 911 calls, no matter what device they are dialing from.
A Compliance Example
Unscrupulous robocallers often alter their outbound caller ID to deceive your customers into thinking the call is from a local number so they are more likely to answer, because each spoofed robocall answered gives these con artists another opportunity to defraud the public.
On December 19, 2019, the Senate approved the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act, known as the TRACED Act. This legislation requires carriers to implement into their networks the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework, which enables carriers to cross-verify numbers to ensure each call is coming from an authentic number and prevent the completion of illegally spoofed calls.
By moving to an industry-leading cloud communications platform, service providers can bypass the effort and time required to ensure compliance since the cloud provider would manage it. The very nature of a cloud-native platform delivers agility in a way on-premises networks cannot keep up with, including ability to easily comply with government mandated regulations, rather than the burden falling heavily on service providers.
Failures may occur not in the softswitch itself but from having a single switch at a single site. While many service providers have geo-split two halves of a switch, its often only from one side of a city to the other. Few providers have scaled to implement a nationwide active-active geo-redundant solution to mitigate the risks of failure and network outages.
When technical issues arise with a traditional phone system, if a dedicated staff member can’t fix it, the only option is to schedule and pay for on-premises support. Odds are that the technician is unavailable on the same day, which means those end users could be without vital services for an unknown amount of time. The delay may be further exacerbated if the end user’s business is not centrally located, there is high seasonal demand for support, or the outage is large scale.
Of a poll of nearly four hundred businesses, 99% said they had experienced a hardware failure.
But what does this mean for your business and end users?
Gartner reported an average cost of $5,600 per minute, and over $300k per hour, due to systems downtime.
Many vendors have gone out of business and no longer support older equipment. As systems are discontinued, customers will no longer have vendor support and replacement parts will eventually be depleted.
Legacy IMS and softswitch products are already in their end-of-life process. For example, service providers that rely on a Metaswitch hardware warranty service can still access replacements — and that will continue until around 2023 — but they don’t have long to decide what to do next. Even outside of COVID shipping delays and parts scarcity, your new hardware may not be compatible with the old hardware.
Even outside of COVID shipping delays and parts scarcity, your old hardware may not be compatible with new Metaswitch software releases.
As skilled personnel retire in greater numbers year over year, providers will have an increasingly challenging time locating replacements who have the knowledge needed to manage hardware developed twenty years ago. The cost to retain those employees or train someone new will be significant. In addition, there is no incentive for new individuals entering the workforce to learn how to program an obsolete 40-year-old softswitch.
In addition, Cisco is now competing with customers. Service providers are now in the awkward position of competing with Cisco, their platform provider. This isn’t ideal because it limits the go-to-market leverage for service providers and induces acute conflicts around the strategic aspect of the relationship which will impede successful partnerships, roadmap innovation, and general information flow.
Craig Drinkhall, Director of Products and Sales Engineering of Horizon Connects, commented, “we could not afford to wait a year and a half building and bringing a new product to market, or spend millions of dollars building out a large switch infrastructure with interconnects to all the ILECs within our footprint.” He considered his extensive experience implementing Metaswitch and BroadSoft switches at three different companies, which had “required significant upfront capital and time to implement a georedundent, carrier-grade system.”