Track 1: Core/Legacy Networks

Modernize the Network – Collapsing Class5 Switches and Migrating to Fiber Based Replacement Solutions

August 16, 2018 9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

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Scott McIsaac


As service providers transition their networks to an All-IP Ethernet centric infrastructure, they are struggling with the challenges of Class 5 switch migration. Class 5 Switches have reliably delivered POTS, Special Services and Business Services for many decades but now operation of these legacy network elements presents tough challenges:

  • Lack of Support: No new parts are available because the systems are Manufacture Discontinued and most of the original manufacturers are out of business.
  • Lack of Expertise: As personnel retire service providers are faced with significant cost to retain or develop technical support capabilities without the manufacturer’s support.
  • Greater Liability: As systems near end of life, component and system failure rates increase.
  • Increased Operational Expense: Relative to newer softswitch solutions, the Class 5 switches use significantly more power, HVAC and occupy more real-estate.

Migrating to a packet based Regional softswitch addresses most of these challenges but fails to provide a complete solution. Softswitches do not support all of the Special Services and Business Services that the Class 5 switch provides. Many of these services represent meaningful revenue streams and some are mandated by regulation. This means service providers cannot simply remove all of the Class 5 switches from their network. A small number of Class 5 switches will need to be retained in order to offer Class 5 based services until alternative solutions are developed. A complete distribution system is what is most needed.

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