The VoIP and Unified Communication industry is booming. The VoIP industry generated total revenue of $14.1 billion in the US in 2020 alone (IBISWorld, 2020). Instead of relying on the traditional phone system, businesses can save up to 75% when opting for VoIP. (BullsEye Telecom, 2019). Equipped with a capable device, good internet connectivity, and a compatible headset, businesses can use VoIP to reduce calling costs while increasing productivity. You may wonder how a software-based calling mechanism can manage to replace traditional telephone exchange, especially call-switching. This is where Softswitch comes into the picture.
What is Softswitch, and How is it classified?Softswitch is the acronym of Software Switch, and it is used in VoIP core network to control calls and process media streams. It can route VoIP calls & traffic across carriers and enable services such as switching elements, VoIP billing, directory services, network signaling, etc. It is safe to state that a Softswitch is the backbone of all VoIP communications. Based on the scale of application, there are five major classes of Softswitch:
- Class 1 – used for international gateways
- Class 2 – used for interstate communications
- Class 3 – used for intercity communications
- Class 4 – used in enterprise-level communications
- Class 5 – used for end-user communications
What is Class 4 Softswitch?When routing IP-IP calls to long-distance international locations using an IP network, class 4 Softswitch is used. A call initiated from a class 5 Softswitch in one location is transferred to the class 4 Softswitch of retail VoIP provider and then connected to the class 5 Softswitch at the other location. Class 4 Softswitch offers fewer features than class 5 Softswitch.
- Concurrent calls
- Protocol support & conversion
- Intelligent calls routing
- Secured firewall
- Easy to use and simple interface
What is Class 5 Softswitch?Class 5 Softswitch is routing large volumes of calls within a city, town, state, or country. VoIP providers, cell phone carriers, and PSTN carriers used to connect VoIP-enabled devices to each other. When making a call from your device, the call is connected to your provider’s Softswitch, and then the call is routed to the correct IP address, SIP address, and DID number.
- call forwarding
- call rules (find me/follow me/DND)
- call transfer
- call waiting
- caller ID
- conference calling
- enhanced voicemail
- in-network calling music
- ring/hunt groups
- videoconferencing support
- virtual numbers.
Key Differences Between Class 4 & 5 SoftswitchAs you may have realized, class 4 Softswitch is for routing calls over a long distance, while class 5 Softswitch focuses more on local call routing. However, the difference doesn’t end there. Both Softswitches are different on the following key avenues:
Call Traffic Volume & TypeFunctionality-wise, concurrent calls from multiple class 5 Softswitches are redirected to a single class 4 Softswitch. So, class 4 Softswitches are built to handle large volumes of calls at the same time. Class 5 Softswitch deals with smaller call traffic.
Targeted usersClass 5 Softswitches are designed to work with both VoIP service providers and end-users. Class 4 Softswitches are made to serve wholesale VoIP solution providers, carriers, and Telco operators.
Routing AreaClass 4 can route a large number of long-distance VoIP calls across different networks and hence has a larger routing area. Class 5, on the other hand, routes SIP or IP address or a Direct Inward Dialing (DID) number of target users across a smaller area.
Intended UsageAs far as services are concerned, the Class 5 Switch serves as a handy retail solution. Besides, it also serves as an exchange in the PSTN, which is responsible for catering to the end-users and is located at the local telephone center. On the contrary, the Class 4 switch serves as a wholesale solution. It is a central office telephone exchange, which interconnects various local exchange carrier offices to establish communication for a long distance in PSTN.
Benefits of using SoftswitchBy using Softswitches, organizations have observed the following benefits:
- Scalable Solution: Softswitches are generally easy to scale up or down, depending on the network’s size, compared to regular switches. A VoIP Softswitch can be scaled with the company’s growth and be upgraded with a simple download.
- Versatile: Routing, reporting, invoicing, and monitoring are all services that a VoIP Softswitch may accomplish. Softswitches may be integrated with other software to help businesses run more efficiently.
- Accurate billing: Providers may adjust call rates and produce exact invoices for each of their clients using VoIP Softswitches. As a result, Softswitches free up time and resources that organizations may put toward their main activities.
- Highly Cost-effective: Softswitches are extremely cost-effective since they do not require any additional hardware. The program is installed and upgraded in a virtual environment.