An Open Source Class-Five Switch

An Open Source Class-Five Switch

Summary: Open source projects have revolutionized operating systems, web servers, web browsers, and so why not carrier switches? The FreeSwitch open source project released its Release Candidate 1 (RC1) yesterday providing and by early accounts the software rocks.

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Open source projects have revolutionized operating systems, web servers, web browsers, and so why not carrier switches? The FreeSwitch open source project released its Release Candidate 1 (RC1) yesterday providing and by early accounts the software rocks.

“We replaced a cluster of 10 Asterisk servers with a single FreeSwitch server,” said Chris Parker, director of systems for a large publicly traded CLEC. Parker says he’s getting several hundred concurrent calls on a single, dual-core box that’s also doing all of the media processing, a computationally intensive task.

The software was first cooked up Anthony Minessale, an early Asterisk developer, who wanted to create an Asterisk 2.0 project back in 2005. When that didn’t gain acceptance he set off to build FreeSwitch. Today, the FreeSwich projects relies on the work of some 16 developers and testers.

The software is a high-speed call switching engine that telcos or businesses can use to switch calls, build a media gateway, or a media server to host IVR application. Commercial softswitches provide those features, but they run tens of thousands of dollars. FreeSwitch is a free download.

Aside from high-speed switching, the software provides built-in IVR, multilingual voicemail, conferencing, and presence. The software will handle SIP and wideband codecs for high-fidelity voice calls.

FreeSwitch will most likely shine on the backend. One application will be to help business reduce calling costs by directing calls to the cheapest carrier. Ken Rice, a voice consultant and owner of tollfreegateway.com, a voice termination service, says his FreeSwitch “cherry picks the rate centers” and chooses the least-expensive carrier for delivering 40-45 million minutes per month.

In theory, FreeSwitch could become the platform for a new carrier, but there’s far more to building a carrier than just purchasing a switch. Purchasing and integrating the proper billing and management systems are bigger changes. What’s more FreeSwitch lacks the huge range of features of commercial softswitches, such as Broadsoft, will offer to deploy consumer services.

That was one of the reasons why Parker chose to use FreeSwitch instead of Broadsoft, he says. The price didn't hurt either.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Mobility, Open Source, Servers, Software

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8 comments
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  • TollFreeGateway + FreeSwitch

    Not only do we use it for that many minutes a month its already proved to almost perform too well as we have in advertantly overloaded some switches we peer with.
    krice
  • FS is definitely worth checking out

    I've been helping the FS developers for about 9 months now and I've got to say that this project is really cool. The core devs are great guys. Even though the project is still relatively young, it can do many different things. We are still working on the PSTN interfacing (via the OpenZAP project) as well as the documentation, but it's all starting to come together. Check it out!
    -MC
    Mercutio_Viz
  • FYI, it's now RC2 (n/t)

    (n/t)
    Mercutio_Viz
  • What was revolutionized?

    They haven't innovated anything, just made third part iterations of existing software, usually minus features and performance (see: firefox, mysql, open office, etc)
    Spiritusindomit
    • Not True

      I think you need to check it out first hand to realize the
      features and performance are there.
      briankwest
    • A lot Actually

      I beg to differ as the author of this software I have personally coded 160,000 lines of code from scratch see: http://fisheye.freeswitch.org/browse/FreeSWITCH/src

      We support SIP TLS+SRTP, 16k codecs, Googletalk integration to name a few things. Secondly there is no existing software that has our exact feature set and the ones that come close, we can outperform by a factor of 10 times.

      So you may want to do some research before you belittle someone's 2 years of nonstop work.
      anthm
  • RE: An Open Source Class-Five Switch

    IMPRESSIVE WORK except some billing and management stuffs are missing!! Long live FS movement! Zenny
    zennny0
  • RE: An Open Source Class-Five Switch

    I am so impressed with the potential this FS has that I am going to download tonight and hopefully with time talk the company I work for into getting rid of their customized Asterisk servers as their backend. We currently run about 400 concurrent calls thru Asterisk, though the potential for FS can revolutionize the communications/PBX industry. This in a time when our economy needs an infusion of new ideas. Thanks to all the developers!!!
    fun2bloving