Heavy Reading

VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Media Gateways

As the telecom recovery begins, incumbent telecom carriers face severe challenges, including the continued loss of telephony lines and minutes to wireless operators, the need to accelerate broadband rollouts in the face of new competition from cable companies, the regulatory mandate to unbundle local loop elements, and new long-distance competition from specialist VOIP carriers.

Incumbent telcos need new VOIP infrastructures to meet these challenges, and they now have the knowledge and spending power to start buying and deploying them as they migrate from aging Class 5 circuit-switched networks to a packet-switched infrastructure. One critical component in any VOIP infrastructure deployment is the media gateway – the network device that takes conventional time-division-multiplexed voice signals and converts them to IP.

VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Media Gateways is the most detailed and comprehensive analysis of media gateway products undertaken to date. In three key product categories – central-office media gateways, digital loop carrier media gateways, and trunk media gateways – this report provides granular information, in matrix format, on every important aspect of the functionality and performance of each vendor's offering. Along with providing detailed product specs, this report rates media gateway products based on a unique weighted system.


More than 60 tables, encompassing more than 8,000 data points, enable detailed feature-by-feature comparisons of 74 different media gateway products from 25 manufacturers, including 14 public companies and 11 private companies.


Products are compared across a wide range of feature and performance specifications, including the following:

Chassis/server size and weight
Power consumption
Chassis capacity (number of racks and lines per rack)
Interfaces supported
Signaling options
Switching and broadband QOS features
Signal processing capabilities
Interoperability with other media gateways

[click on the image below for the full excerpt]

[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
In addition to delivering exhaustive product data, the report includes a unique rating system that allows for the industry's first-ever ranking of media access gateways in these four product categories:

Copper line access media gateways
GR.303/V.5 access media gateways
Third-generation digital loop carrier (3G DLC) access media gateways
Trunk media gateways

The scoring system used to determine product ratings is described in remarkable detail, showing product ratings in dozens of discrete categories, in addition to delivering overall ratings.

[click on the image below for the full excerpt]

[click on the image above for the full excerpt]

Key Findings

Key findings from the report include the following:

Access media gateways are of pivotal importance in the converged next-gen network, as they replace the telephone line cards of legacy TDM switches. Much of the Class 5 migration thought process is going into graceful migration strategies from legacy TDM switch line cards to VOIP access media gateways.

Access media gateways will represent the bulk of the investment in the next-gen network. CO-based access media gateways currently account for 65 percent to 75 percent of the target market in the U.S. that has not devolved into outside plant.

The biggest vendors in the access media gateway market don't necessarily have the best products. Access and trunk media gateways from Alcatel, Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, and Siemens earned generally respectable scores in our product ratings, but they fell short of being at the head of the class.

Vendors from Asia are now making some of the best media gateway products on the market. Samsung and Huawei earned solid ratings for their access media gateway offerings, while UTStarcom earned the third-highest mark overall for its trunk media gateway product.

For copper line access media gateways, products from Marconi rated the highest in our evaluation. Marconi's AXH-600-E came out on top by quite a margin, with its smaller sibling, the AXH-600-S4, squeezing into second place. The former won on the basis of its solid all-around performance, the only weakness being in the area of switching and QOS. The smaller gateway lost ground primarily on scaleability. Samsung's AceMAP came a very close third with a good all-around performance, again dropping most points on scaleability.

For GR.303/V.5 access media gateways, products from General Bandwidth, Alcatel, and Huawei earned the highest scores. General Bandwidth's G6 product did very well on scaleability, protocols and codecs, and signaling. Alcatel's 7510 and Huawei's UMG 8900 also did well on scaleability, and otherwise had good all-around performances.

The 3G DLC access media gateway enables the most graceful Class 5 migration to VOIP possible. The most useful configuration is the BLC (broadband loop concentrator), where any line can be POTS or DSL, and all POTS traffic is packetized for backhaul to a softswitch or via an inverse media gateway to a legacy Class 5 TDM switch. In this configuration any line can be turned up for DSL automatically through the management system, and any POTS line can be routed to a legacy switch or a softswitch.

The trunk media gateway requirement for high-density processing is creating a good opportunity for specialist vendors to capture market share. Since they are required in fewer locations than access gateways, trunk media gateways are all about high density in terms of trunks handled, codecs, signal processing, and call processing.

Telcos do not need to be locked into their existing TDM switch suppliers for trunk media gateways. The leading independent products interwork with a wide range of softswitches, giving carriers the important option of using best-of-breed products from different vendors in their networks.

Report Scope and Structure

VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Media Gateways includes complete competitive analyses for 74 different media gateway products, including:

12 copper line access media gateways from eight different vendors
16 GR.303/V.5 access media gateways from eight different vendors
17 3G DLC access media gateways from nine different vendors
29 trunk media gateways from 20 different vendors

This report is structured as follows:

Section II delivers a complete competitive analysis of central-office access media gateways, including product ratings for copper line access media gateways and GR.303/V.5 gateways.

Section III offers a complete competitive analysis and product ratings for third-generation digital loop carrier (3G DLC) access media gateway products.

Section IV includes a complete competitive analysis and product ratings for trunk media gateway products.

The report is essential reading for a wide range of industry participants, including the following:

Telecom service providers: Which media gateway products best meet your immediate and long-term needs? How do today's products compare for the features and performance specifications that are most important to you? Which suppliers are best positioned to deliver the optimal Class 5 migration strategy? Which products offer the interoperability you need with your installed equipment, including softswitches?

Media gateway suppliers: How do your products compare with the competition? What are the specific strengths of your product line that will resonate with prospective carrier buyers? Are there potential weaknesses in your product that need to be addressed?

Investors: Which equipment makers are in the best position to capture market share in this important telecom industry sector? Which startups are delivering the technology that will gain market traction with carrier buyers?

VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Media Gateways is published in PDF format. A companion report, VOIP: A Comprehensive Competitive Analysis of Softswitches, is also available.

PRICE: $3,495
Analyst at Large, Heavy Reading
Graham Beniston is an associate of Heavy Reading with over 25 years' experience in the telecom industry. During that time, he has worked in all narrowband and broadband technologies. His expertise includes IP over ATM, IP VPNs, mobile IP, IP satellite networks, and IP traffic management...'s team of analysts and a leading authority on next-generation telecom technology. He has 12 years' experience researching the optical networks and broadband networking markets...
Access media gateways will account for the bulk of spending on next-gen networks
Incumbent vendors don't necessarily have the best media gateway products
Asian suppliers are now making some of the highest-quality media gateways
Copper line access gateways from Marconi earned the highest marks in that category
3G DLC gateways offer the best migration path from Class 5 circuit-switched networks
Specialist vendors will   find their best opportunities in the trunk media gateway sector
12 copper line access media gateways from eight different vendors
16 GR.303/V.5 access media gateways from eight different vendors
17 3G DLC access media gateways from nine different vendors
29 trunk media gateways from 20 different vendors
Full analysis of media gateway technology development

Complete competitive analysis of 74 different media gateways from 25 suppliers

More than 60 product comparison matrices, yielding more than 8,000 comparative data points

First-ever comprehensive rating of access and trunk media gateways

138 pages of product analysis and ratings
PRICE: $3,495
To view reports you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it, it can be obtained for free at the Adobe web site.