Several vendors -- Lucent, Siemens and Sonus Networks among them -- say their gatekeeper (or softswitches) could handle an unlimited number of channels, noting that there are no architectural limits to the maximum number of concurrent channels that can be managed or aggregated. Vendors noted, however, that memory, CPU constraints or other configuration issues limit even these systems.
Trend no. 3: Pricing fluctuations
So how much will voice over IP cost in 2001? On average, between $500 and $600 per channel, according to our analysis. This is roughly the same as the per-channel price a year ago when prices ranged from about $500 to $700 per channel. There were more expensive products a year ago when the technology was newer, and they have since coalesced at a slightly lower price, which brings the top down. It's now a narrower range.
Our per-port pricing for shipping voice over IP was based on the following criteria:
- For voice-over-IP gateways and/or gatekeepers, the price includes two gateways plus one gatekeeper (or call agent), which would comprise a typical enterprise deployment, for a number of T-1 links that the vendor specified. We asked the vendors to ensure that the per-port pricing included all basic PBX features (such as call transfer, call forwarding and conferencing) and capabilities including management, interactive voice response, two-stage dialing, autodetection of modem calls, retention of CDR records, and any supported redundancy.
- For PSTN/central office replacement switches, we requested a system price based on one switching system/chassis/rack, configured to support 20 T-1s (480 input voice/DS-0 channels). We also asked for a per-channel price based on a fully expanded system supporting the maximum number of T-1s (which varied from vendor to vendor). Prices likewise were to include all basic features and capabilities. This class of products is generally sold only to service providers. With the proliferation of ISPs and competitive local exchange carriers, we found it difficult to make a comparison with the way things were a year or more ago.
We asked IP telephony (IP PBX) vendors to provide per-station pricing based on a 100-station configuration that could be all IP phones, all analog phones or a 50/50 mix (if both are supported), with one T-1 trunk to a central office or 24 foreign exchange office analog ports (if T-1 was not supported). This price was to include full voice-over-IP support and management software.