Next Communications selects session border controller solution to enable global expansion into new markets.
Next Communications entered the telecommunications industry in 1998 as a wholesale international long-distance carrier. The highly profitable private company's history has shown that innovation and nimbleness can enable a privately held operator in Miami, Florida to rival the established industry giants.
Today Next has become one of the top five leaders for in-bound traffic to Mexico, and the company's best-in-class IP network is capable of delivering high-quality long-distance services in Europe, Africa, and the Americas. In addition to wholesale traffic, Next services originating traffic from emerging communications markets, and most recently the company began to play a significant role in the 30 billion minute per month U.S. domestic market.
Consequently, in 2011, Next Communications consolidated its intellectual property and in-house development team into a dedicated subsidiary called NxtGn. Such a transfer of technology allowed Next Communications to focus on its core telecommunications business and helped Next partners to utilize NxtGn's dynamic technology. As a separate entity, NxtGn is able to narrow its focus on developing and commercializing technologies, software, and solutions for managing voice, video, and data traffic over wired and wireless networks.
A key to Next Communications' success has been the company's proprietary network design and software produced by NxtGn technology. This platform enables Next to provision new customers or carriers in less than one hour with a fraction of the capital expenses charged by other solutions on the market. The NxtGn communications platform allows Next to support all its traffic in a compact, single-rack footprint, and without the need for a voice switch. Automated central network management with 24-hour traffic and network monitoring allows Next to grow traffic with minimal operational costs.
The greatly reduced termination costs of the switchless design give Next a strong competitive advantage. The company's continued success requires the ability to scale minutes and features without increasing costs. By 2012, Next aims to manage four billion minutes on the same network with a negligible growth in staff.
Already a Cisco network, Next turned to Cisco to help it meet this four-billion-minute challenge. Besides growth, other company goals included improving call quality, reducing the number of dropped calls, and adding sufficient capacity to deploy new video-based, revenue-generating services. These services include delivery of wholesale high-definition video and telepresence calls, teleconferences, and combined video and audio-only conference services on wired and wireless networks.
The network solution is built around the Cisco® ASR 1006 Series router for session border control capability. The Cisco Unified Border Element (SP Edition), or "CUBE", is a high-scale, carrier-grade session border controller (SBC) that is integrated into NxtGn routing, billing, security, traffic monitoring, and infrastructure management platform. Cisco Unified Border Element (SP Edition) provides a network-to-network demarcation interface for signaling interworking, media interworking, address, and port translations. The Cisco ASR 9000 Series is used for high-speed interconnectivity to the Internet and other carriers.
The use of ASR 1006 as a core SBC, combined with NxtGn technology, allows Next Communications to focus on the business process and operations of voice, video, and data networks.
The local Cisco and NxtGn teams helped Next to migrate to a highly advanced solution. The Cisco ASR 1000 Series Router will allow the company to increase capacity to its stated goal of four-billion minutes per year, while keeping to a single-rack installation for maximized power, cooling, and space savings. The NxtGn platform and Cisco SBC can very easily scale, with the ability to add incremental capacity on the same chassis and rack while providing increased call stability at the same time.
"NxtGn and Cisco showed us how to get the capacity we need with exceptional performance," says Arik Meimoun, CEO and co-founder of Next Communication. "But the real win for us is the value point; no one can touch our prices, and this solution extends that advantage as we significantly scale up capacity while keeping our costs extremely low."
Prior to the CUBE deployment, Next managed calls with 80 gateways. Each gateway filled a rack, and was addressed with a unique IP address. Today, the combined Cisco plus NxtGn solution helped Next consolidate all 80 gateways to just one rack of equipment, and reached via a single IP address. All routing, both receiving and sending, is carried in and out using one Inbound Proxy and one Outbound Proxy, and the load can be shared between two ASRs. In the initial stage of the ASR deployment, NxtGn uses Inbound Proxy to manage ingress traffic between old gateways and ASR. Routing and Billing Servers were adopted to integrate existing routing and billing infrastructures with a new Cisco ASR 1006. The NxtGen Virtual Platform Console (NVPC) was integrated into the solution to manage and monitor network traffic on both platforms simultaneously. This solution allows Next Communications to eliminate network outages on deployment and testing phases of the project.
Today two Cisco ASR 1006 routers are used for redundancy and load sharing. The simplicity of the solution has far-reaching impacts. Software is more easily scaled with the new topology, and adjustments can be made as needed. For example, when one gateway gets full, traffic is no longer locked into that gateway address; the routing engine can automatically distribute traffic to another gateway. For a company that has always operated with a small technical staff, this aspect of the solution means that they do not have to transform the entire business to grow sales. "My customers can't believe I can do so much in a single rack," says Meimoun.
The international long-distance market is notorious for very slim operating margins. Nonetheless, Next continues to impress by achieving high levels of profitability in its markets. The new Cisco SBC solution with the NxtGen platform and technology strengthens its financial foundation by positioning the company to handle the projected growth in traffic as it enters new markets and offers new video services. Wholesale revenues for Next in 2009 reached nearly US$60 million and nearly doubled in 2010 with a minimum incremental investment and with the same number of people.
NxtGn is currently working on integrating solutions, platforms, and software for two Next partners.
"We are very excited about our newest platforms from Cisco," says Meimoun. "We feel very strong with our increased capacity and extremely competitive operating margins, and the upgrade also means that we can give our customers extremely resilient service. With the NxtGn platform and Cisco SBC, our quality will improve with an additional reduction in dropped calls, making Next the most reliable international carrier. And we'll have the capacity to deliver new HD video services that are becoming increasingly popular."
The solution gives Next the scalability they need for a very affordable cost .The pay-as-they-grow expansion minimizes both equipment and operating costs.
Beyond aggressive expansion into the North American voice market, Next is poised to offer new high-definition video services with low per minute and low fixed costs. Ultimately, they want to make telepresence affordable for smaller businesses that cannot afford high monthly service charges for dedicated Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits.