I've been around the IP Telephony world long enough to know that there are various barometers that have proven to be instructive about the state of the industry and where it is going.
One of these barometers are trend lines for the sales of softswitch licenses. Also referred to as "call servers," softswitches are network devices that integrate Public Switched Telephone Systems' SS7 (Signalling System 7)telephone signaling with packet networks.
In other words, without softswitches, you'd have a bucket of problems calling, or getting a call from, one of those unenlightened souls who doesn't have VoIP yet.
OK, back to the barometer thingie: Redwood City, Cal.-based telecommunications research company Dell'Oro Group is just out with its newest IP Telephony Carrier Quarterly Report. The study claims that in the first quarter of this year carriers purchased softswitches that will support more than 11 million packet-based services subscribers. That's 60 percent growth compared to 1Q 2004.
“Most of these softswitches are being deployed to support voice-over-broadband services provided by incumbent carriers and other service providers as they compete to attract subscribers by broadening their service offerings and geographic reach," says Steve Raab, Director of IP Telephony research at Dell’Oro.