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Nortel Networks pushes voice, data tech

The company rolls out an update to key gateway hardware to link the voice and data networking worlds.

Nortel Networks is starting to lay a foundation for increased use of data-based technology within carrier networks, rolling out an update to key gateway hardware that links the voice and data networking worlds.

The company announced general availability of signaling transfer point (STP) technology that is used to handle services based on signaling system 7, or SS7, while introducing new support for networks based on IP. The move is one of several expected from Nortel in the coming months as it evolves from a pure voice equipment provider and starts to integrate technology it acquired from data player Bay Networks.

So-called SS7 capabilities have a long history in the telco world. SS7 consists of a set of protocols, which allow service providers to offer a wide array of services on top of a voice network. The technology is often used for reliability purposes--a requirement for data based layouts if they are going to play an increased role in routing voice traffic using IP, the Internet Protocol.

As expected, Ascend Communications also formally threw its hat into the ring today with news of shipment of an SS7 gateway based on technology it acquired from Stratus Computer.

Technology based on SS7 is rapidly gaining a foothold among data networking firms as they seek to add support for tools normally associated with the voice world.

Several firms, including Cisco Systems and Newbridge Networks, among several others, are aligning themselves with companies that have voice equipment experience to better position themselves in the market for technology that supports voice, video, and data traffic.

Nortel's broadband STP is the first to include a signaling server component, an addition that is intended for IP traffic, according to the company. The technology has been in trials since late summer.