Softswitch End of Innovation: 4 Key Risks for Communication Service Providers

Softswitch End of Innovation

Many communication service providers (CSPs) are so focused on supporting their voice offerings that they’ve neglected the risks associated with the end of softswitch innovation. Working with aging softswitches is a common challenge these days, because it’s not only legacy TDMs like Nortel or Lucent switches that are aging out — even first-generation voice over internet protocol (VoIP) platforms are at or very near to end of life (EOL). 

While softswitches have well served their purpose of supporting basic voice services, CSPs that haven’t prioritized their softswitch replacement are at risk of being left behind by innovative competitors.  

Like any hardware, the manufacturer discontinues maintenance and innovation well before the softswitch itself reaches the end of life. Using outdated equipment or software creates vulnerabilities that can pose significant risks to your network and your customers’ businesses, which is notable when you consider the number of cyber-attacks and data breaches in the news every week. Additionally, older switches are less likely to be compliant with recent regulations like Kari’s Law, RAY BAUM’s Act, or STIR/SHAKEN, all of which have legal consequences.  

As you consider whether to replace your softswitch, ask yourself if it’s worth replacing hardware with hardware only to face the same costs and challenges for another five to seven years. The longer you use outdated softswitches, the more complex your IT footprints become — and the more difficult it is to untangle everything later. You could be doing more damage in the long term by postponing your migration to the cloud.

Softswitch End of Innovation

4 Softswitch End of Innovation Risks

While your softswitch may still work today, it won’t be long before it no longer supports the latest security updates, flexibility, and scalability needed to stay competitive. In the softswitch end of innovation era, here are some of the top risks of continuing to rely on legacy technology. 

1. Operational Complexity

Maintaining an aging softswitch can be both complicated and time consuming, leading to an increase in operational costs. As time passes, softswitches become less and less compatible with the latest technology, which can lead to sudden service interruptions that can’t easily be resolved, especially as parts become scarce once manufacturers stop selling and supporting your device.  You may even be forced to adopt a different technology that you don’t have time to understand and implement properly. 

Legacy IMS and softswitch products are already in their end-of-life process. For example, service providers that rely on Metaswitch VP3510 or VP2510 don’t have long to decide what to do next — hardware support ends on November 30, 2023. 

2. Security Breaches

Once a softswitch reaches end-of-life, the manufacturer stops creating security updates, bug fixes, and patches, making your softswitch more vulnerable to hackers and malware. As cyberattacks become increasingly common, not having the latest security update puts you and your customers at risk of a data breach. End-of-Support dates are public knowledge, making it easy for malicious actors to identify which systems can be exploited. Not even the latest antivirus software and firewalls can safeguard a legacy softswitch. 

Softswitch End of Innovation

3. Compliance

Regulatory compliance is important to protect people, and non-compliance comes at a cost. As softswitches reach end-of-life, the vendors (if they’re still around) are less likely to update their platforms to support new regulatory requirements, such as Kari’s Law, RAY BAUM’s Act, and STIR/SHAKEN, which could lead to hefty fines or the need to quickly upgrade to a new system.

By migrating to an industry-leading cloud communications platform, service providers can often bypass the effort and time to ensure regulatory compliance as the cloud provider manages much of it on their behalf. 

4. Lack of Support

The closer to EOL the softswitch gets, the more difficult it is to support and mainain.  Skilled personnel that have the knowledge to maintain legacy TDM switches like Nortel or Lucent are retiring in greater numbers year over year. And with little to no manufacturer support, the burden to repair, replace, and innovate falls to your team.  

Softswitch End of Innovation

Act Before the Softswitch End of Innovation Sets In

If you’ve ever considered moving your voice service offerings to a cloud communications solution, now is the time to do it. The cloud communications market is growing at a rapid pace, and there is a tremendous opportunity to add unified communications and collaboration services that enable work from anywhere. As companies with cloud infrastructure capitalize on the market share, CSPs utilizing legacy softswitches will quickly find themselves losing more business than ever to their over-the-top (OTT) competitors. 


Softswitch Migration Proposal

Softswitch end of innovation is here. If you’re a CIO or CTO of a telecom operator, look to the future. Consider all the time your team spends maintaining your system, adding applications to implement new features, and maintain regulatory compliance — then assess the impact on your future priorities.  

  • Does the risk of sticking with your legacy system until you reach a breaking point outweigh the risk of migrating to the cloud?  
  • Can your existing technology keep up with evolving trends in the modern digital ecosystem?  
  • How well positioned are you to win against OTT competitors? 

While there are a few options to explore, only a full stack cloud communication solution is future-proof and will help you transform your business.  

Curious what 2023 is going to look like for service providers?

We looked at the trends in telecom over the past few years, which have been accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, to give service providers guidance on how to meet their customers demand for digital services Read Top 4 Service Provider Predictions & Trends for 2023.

Softswitch End of Innovation
Lauren Kennedy