Softswitch Vendors Hope to Ride Cable Companies Straight to the Winners Circle, IDC Says

FRAMINGHAM, MA – FEBRUARY 1, 2006 – After sauntering out of the gate, cable companies are finally ready to hit stride as they race toward VoIP and associated next-generation services, unencumbered by the back-breaking weight of legacy-based TDM networks. This 'run for the roses' presents tremendous opportunity for softswitch suppliers that recognize the cable market as one of the most important segments for VoIP-based softswitch sales.

According to IDC, the U.S. market for cable-based VoIP will grow from 2.2 million subscribers in 2005 to 19.8 million by 2009. However, to truly compete with incumbent carriers, cable operators must extend bundled offerings that will allow them to provide voice, mobile voice, and multimedia capabilities. "Convergence has created some fierce competition between cable companies and ILECS as both strive to capitalize on the opportunities presented by triple play and quadruple play," said Tom Valovic, program director of IDC's VoIP Infrastructure service.

The rapidly evolving PacketCable architecture and standard, developed by CableLabs, is at the heart of these efforts. However, one potential obstacle that threatens to slow down cable companies is the emergence of IP multimedia subsystems (IMS), a rapidly advancing standard slated for the development of SIP-based multimedia services. If cable companies can't overcome potential IMS hurdles, which include meshing the standard with PacketCable specs to take full advantage of the multimedia capabilities offered by SIP, they may find themselves behind the IMS power curve over the next 2-3 years. On a more positive note, progress in this area will bring with it some distinct advantages. "Over the long term, if PacketCable successfully adopts IMS, this will open up the market to a broader range of softswitch and call session control function (CSCF) providers," said Valovic.

Other key findings from this report include:

— U.S. operators are leading the charge in terms of softswitch deployment.

— Nortel, Siemens, and Cisco (early movers in the specialized PacketCable-compliant market) will likely maintain traction and market share.

— Cisco has become a major force as a cable equipment supplier based on the acquisition of Scientific-Atlanta

— Alcatel is becoming increasingly involved in the emerging cable equipment market

This new report from IDC, Softswitch Suppliers: The Battle for VoIP (and IMS) in the Cable Market (IDC #34706), examines the current market profile for softswitches and media gateways specifically as it pertains to cable operators.

To purchase this research, call IDC Sales at 508-988-7988 or email

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