On October 2, I wrote a blog titled “Why the World Still Needs Gateways.” I received a few comments about it, ranging from “Right on!” to “You are out of your mind. To those in the “you are out of your mind” camp, I have to assume you are just so immersed in the IP world that you just haven’t looked around enough to pay attention.
When I was a kid, to pass the time on car trips, my parents would ask me to see how many ‘xyz’ I could see (such as “count how many New York Giant logos you can see”). So, I decided to do this in the airport the other day with respect to “regular-looking phones.” Sure, there are no more banks of phones like there used to be, but there are definitely still regular-looking phones in various places, such as at gates. You just don’t notice them. And I bet many of these phones are PSTN or digital phones that ultimately go onto some IP network. In which case, there is a gateway needed.
After explaining this, some of the naysayers said to me, “OK, I get it, but a gateway is already in place.” Not so fast! You might think so, but in fact, the answer is more often no than yes. With SIP trunking conversion still occurring, PSTN connections are still there to be taken out. That means new gateways need to be sold if the SIP trunk will connect to existing digital or PSTN equipment.
Where there is public infrastructure, such as at airports, railways, etc., the infrastructure is there, and it works. But it was never upgraded. Maybe it’s just used for emergencies because communications might happen primarily by cell phone or walkie-talkie. But it’s there, and it needs to work. And because it’s public, it has already been paid for by taxpayers. So, who would pass a bond to get rid of this and install all-IP systems?
Sangoma has a great example of such infrastructure requiring gateways, but it gets even more interesting because of certain unique requirements. Because some railways have endpoints such as analog phones and alarm systems that need to connect to an IP backbone, a gateway is required. Some of these endpoints venture up to 12 kilometers from the gateway, and these wires are subjected to electromagnetic interference when a train passes. So the gateway needs to be able to handle these unique requirements. And Sangoma’s can. In fact, RideOnTrack, a Belgium-based company specialized in delivering state-of-the-art communications solutions for mission-critical networks, deployed Sangoma’s Vega 3000 series VoIP gateways for their customer Infrabel. To find out how Sangoma’s gateways supported these special conditions, read the full story here.