Basic functionality of a Softswitch:
The basic functionality of a Softswitch is to allow making and receiving of calls from one network line to another. When it does through VoIP using the internet, it is being referred to as VoIP Softswitch.
Different Classes of Softswitch
High-end softswitch provides advanced features such as Routing, Invoice & Billing, Switching, Report Generation, etc., that accounts for a seamless VoIP business. Depending upon the volume of traffic a VoIP provider can handle, there are various classes of softswitch available to him. They are: Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, and Class 5 softswitch.
All these classes of VoIP softswitch perform the basic functionality of routing calls, but differ individually in terms of providing scalable and advanced functionalities.
How they differ?
It is very important for VoIP providers to understand the difference between these classes of softswitch to deploy the suitable one at their business locations and make good profits.
Class 1, 2, & 3 Softswiches
Mostly, classes 1 through 3 of softswitches are for large scale applications. Class 1 softswitches serve as international gateways while classes 2 & 3 connect cities, towns, and even states.
Class 4 & 5 Softswitch
Now comes the most important Class 4 and Class 5 softswitch which are widely used by many providers. A Class 4 softswitch has the capacity to route large volumes of traffic from one destination to another destination. For businesses that want to interconnect their VoIP servers, a Class 4 softswitch secures the delivery of VoIP traffic and services over multiple IP networks.
The intelligent call routing feature of Class 4 softswitch helps to reduce the congestion, latency and cost while improving the quality of VoIP calls and other security elements. Many class 4 softswitches have billing feature that gives precise control to providers over their business. Also, providers get the privilege of generating reports date wise, hourly wise, weekly wise, etc., for both incoming and outgoing calls using this softswitch.
A Class 5 softswitch on the other hand, routes calls between end-users and consumers in relatively small areas. Also called an IP switch, a Class 5 softswitch routes calls to the correct IP address, SIP address or DID number.
It has advanced features such as auto attendant, blind call transfer, call forwarding, caller ID, IVR, audio and video conferencing support, etc. As this switch allows metering minutes, providers prefer it to bill customers automatically. Further, it supports authorization by IP number and prefix, by a number, by PIN or by login and password for SIP authorization.
A combination of Class 4 and Class 5 softswitch come into picture when providers have to route calls between two international end points. A new variant which is the hybrid version of Class 4 and Class 5 is also available in the market.
Considering the various functionalities that each of these switches offer, providers can estimate their requirements for delivering VoIP services and accordingly deploy any one or the combination of these switches.