The Transformative Effect of Open Source

Over the past 20 years, Open Source transformed the software landscape. Starting with the Internet infrastructure, popular platforms like Linux, Apache, Mozilla, Postgres, etc enabled the creation of new services and business models, reduced the barrier of entry to innovators, and democratized access to computing resources.

With some time lag, the same is happening in telecom and communications. The development of VoIP technologies in the 90’s started the migration of traditional telephony services to the IP network, but that happened mostly powered by proprietary software. Open Source software has made a few inroads, but now the Communications market seem now ripe for a clear major shift.

Open Source and Telecom

In 1999, Mark Spencer started Asterisk, an Open Source project that implements a software-based system for companies to manage a private telephone network and connect it to the public network (PABX). It was one of the first telecom-related open source projects to take off and reach broad market adoption.

By the early 2000’s, Voice-over-IP (VoIP) was starting to become popular as voice communications started the gradual migration from the purpose-built public switched telephone network (PSTN) to the Internet. There were many implementations of softswitches, software that could switch IP calls in the same fashion central office equipment did for traditional phone calls. FreeSwitch, Kamailio, OpenSIPS are a few examples of open source packages that emerged to enable the offering of telephony services over IP networks.

As standardization efforts started to produce results, the protocol stacks needed for managing voice-over-IP calls were also implemented as open source packages. H323Plus, reSIProcate are examples of that.

Real-time communications evolved to also incorporate multimedia such as video-conferencing, screen-sharing, data-sharing, and text-messaging. Telecom operators started deploying their IP services using a framework known as “IP Multimedia Subsystem” (IMS). Earlier this year, Metaswitch (a telecom software provider) announced the launch of Project Clearwater, an open-source cloud-optimized IMS system.

Also ongoing is the development of WebRTC, a standard originally promoted by Google that embeds a real-time communication engine into the browser and makes communication features available cross-platform and without requiring a specific application to every webpage and mobile app. Most technologies around WebRTC are being implemented under an open source model.

As we look into the future we see increasing convergence and integration of the Internet and telecom infrastructures with communication services being offered in the cloud and decoupled from the underlying physical infrastructure. So, we would expect that, overtime, the influence of Open Source in telecom to follow the trends it has followed in general IT. It is the dawn of the Open Source Telecom era.

A few examples of Open Source Projects in Telecom and VoIP

Asterisk – A software-based, Converged PBX system.

FreeSwitch – Cross-platform, Scalable, Stable Multi-Protocol Softswitch.

Clearwater – A carrier-class IMS system optimized for deployment in the cloud.

Kamailio – A SIP proxy server, call router, and registration server.

OpenSIPS – SIP proxy server, call router, and registration server

PJSIP – multimedia communication library implementing SIP, SDP, RTP, STUN, TURN, and ICE

reSIProcate – SIP protocol stack

Open H323/H323Plus – H.323 protocol stack

sipML5 – HTML5 SIP client

White Paper: Open Source Telecom

For an extended version of this post, please download the white paper “Open Source Telecom” .

Daitan Group is a software development services provider with strong expertise in Telecom and Cloud-Based Communications. We can work to leverage your existing codebase or open source projects to develop new business applications. Our engineers have executed several projects and have specific experience with all the open source packages mentioned above. Click here to Contact Daitan.