November 15, 2004, 3:00 PM — Network infrastructure maker UTStarCom Inc. says it has figured out a way to keep local cell phone calls local -- even over enterprise LANs.
The Alameda, California, company announced on Monday a set of products that bypass the traditional long-distance wired circuits used as backhaul for traditional cellular networks. Instead, it will let them go over IP (Internet protocol) data connections. The technology allows carriers to bring service to remote, unserved communities and allows enterprises to use the "free" bandwidth on their LANs for calls within a campus, according to Jack Mar, president of UTStarCom's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) division.
The MovingMedia 2000 product line makes up an infrastructure in which calls travel directly from the base station onto an IP packet network. That gets the mobile operator's call traffic off the expensive long-distance leased lines they use today between cities and lets the operator consolidate network elements. The result for the operator can be vastly lower operating expenses, according to Mar.
Current cell phone networks switch calls at an MSC (mobile switching center) that may be hundreds of miles from some of the communities it serves. After reaching a local base station, the calls get to the MSC over expensive leased lines on a traditional circuit-switched phone network.
MovingMedia 2000 replaces that MSC with an MSC Server that does not switch the call but only handles management functions such as caller identification and call setup. After a brief setup process, the call travels over IP data connections between base stations, eliminating most of the cost of long-distance dedicated circuits, Mar said.
The new infrastructure also can offer benefits to mobile carriers' enterprise customers, he said.
Using IP phones, enterprises today can make voice calls over building and campus data networks they already own. However, mobile phone calls from one end of a campus to the other generally still go over a service provider's network and show up on a bill. An alternative just beginning to emerge is the use of dual-mode Wi-Fi and cell phones with an automatic handoff from cell network to LAN when an employee comes into the office. UTStarcom's system could offer a simpler solution, Mar said. Subscribers' existing CDMA phones will work with MovingMedia 2000, according to the company.