April 08, 2007

Why Vonage?

Enough has been written about the patent ruling against Vonage on behalf of Verizon. Given the legal nature of the dispute, I have to declare I do not understand the nature of the dispute. This is complicated further because it is not clear who else will be affected by this. The general consensus seems to be that Verizon will go after others after this. In today’s post Andy suggests that there is a technical reason why Verizon targeted Vonage: they use Session Border Controllers and Media Gateways and not Softswitches. I feel this can not be the reason.

First of all Softswitch is a marketing term and can not be precisely defined. In one definition, Softswitch is that entity that controls a Media Gateway. With this definition, Vonage clearly has Softswitch in its architecture. Since Media Gateway is used to interconnect to PSTN, any service provider that provides PSTN interconnect service will have Media Gateway, suggesting that they all will be affected. Since Session Border Controller is used to protect the core network elements, one suspects that other service providers have them as well.

So the question remains. I would think that equipment vendors will indemnify the service providers from such patent disputes. So if Vonage uses vendor supplied equipments, then they will not be in such a predicament. I have heard through word of mouth that they have developed their own infrastructure elements. If so then they have to face Verizon alone, without the support of the vendors. Till shown otherwise, I think this is the reason for Vonage to be vulnerable for patent infringement cases.

Posted by aswath at April 8, 2007 12:08 PM
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