Switching Leader Joins Softswitch Consortium
BY CHARLOTTE WOLTER
After months of negotiation and compromise, Lucent Technologies Inc. has joined the Softswitch Consortium, an organization of more than 70 vendors and service providers formed to develop internetworking technologies for Internet-based real-time interactive communications.
Many in the consortium
(www.softswitch.org) consider Lucent’s inclusion critical because of its leading position in switching.
“It took a while because we have many patents, and the consortium is about making good technology available for free,” says Lance Boxer, Lucent’s group president, communications software. “But I think it helped the consortium because it added controls for the others. The intent of the consortium was to develop open platforms, making interfaces open.
“The issue was giving the consortium the ability to develop intellectual property, while protecting the intellectual property that already exists,” he continues. “We all now have enough protection so all the companies, big and small, can go ahead.”
The consortium had settled on a “patent test,” a system to find patent infringements, as the mechanism to protect intellectual property. “But it still opens the intellectual property as much and as fast as possible,” Boxer says
Senior director of voice network engineering, Level 3 Communications Inc.
(www.level3.com) and a consortium founder Ike Elliott said in December that commitment to the group’s intellectual property principles was important, but that he expected the group to come to an agreement with Lucent.
“What we are saying is, if you join the consortium, then you are committed to granting royalty-free rights for anyone to implement them,” Elliott says. “We are saying the right to use the plumbing is inalienable.”
The intellectual property in question is each company’s implementation of the five primary protocols for Internet telephony: H.323; real-time protocol (RTP); real-time streaming protocol (RTSP); session initiation protocol (SIP); and media gateway control protocol (MGCP).
All are international standards.
The consortium’s goal is to provide interoperability testing for its members’ products, especially application program interfaces (APIs) for software developers.
“There is one missing link in both the International Telecommunications Union
(ITU, www.itu.int) and the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF, www.ietf.org), and that is application programming interfaces,” says Elliott. “There is no one organization other than our own that is
taking a leadership role in that.”