Free or Paid Session Border Controller

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Free or Paid Session Border Controller
Free or Paid Session Border Controller

The good thing in the world of IT is that you can enjoy free software and you have paid software with more features. Surprisingly, some free solutions can be adequate as Zoom proved in the recent ongoing pandemic when people needed video chat solution. Likewise, you can opt for session border controllers offered for free and more sophisticated session border controllers on a paid basis in the form of a one-time fee or on a subscription basis.

The need for session border controller

VoIP traffic is growing by leaps and bounds since it offers more features and is cost-effective for the business. There will be 3 billion VoIP users by 2021 with VoIP attaining a market share of $ 93 billion by 2024. VoIP uses open internet pathways and that makes it vulnerable to security attacks. Further, you have users and systems using a variety of protocols and codecs. You need a security system at the perimeter of your network to facilitate calls and for security. The session border controller is your sentinel. Once used by telecom carriers and VoIP service providers, its use now percolates down to the smallest business that uses VoIP for business communication. When you think of small to medium enterprises their needs are modest and they may make do with SBCs that are watered down or even opt for free session border controllers. Is it worth it? Consider.

The free session border controller

Look around and you will find free and easy session border controllers meant for small businesses. 

  • Free SBC operates in a virtualized environment with minimal need for hardware investment. 
  • Even a free virtual SBC solution facilitates secure SIP trunking. 
  • You have a secure real-time transport protocol for encryption and authentication and transport layer security.
  • Capability to handle about 1000 call attempts per second and scalable to 60000 sessions, provided you upgrade to a paid version
  • RTP bypass, DoS and DDoS protection, SIP header manipulation, SIP registration

The downsides could be: 

  • Limited interoperability and ability to handle virtually all protocols and codecs in use
  • Limited least cost routing
  • Higher CPU power

For small businesses with low volume usage, it may not matter much but still, VoIP is advancing and you need a future-ready session border controller, which, as is to be expected, will always be a paid model with far greater benefits. 

What the future holds and what you need in SBCs

An Oracle whitepaper perfectly describes the state of future VoIP operations and what you will need by way of SBCs for next-generation services.

  • VoLTE and 5G: This means massive traffic and increased load on the network as well as the security system to handle a variety of media streams and yet offer seamless performance with a high level of protection.
  • Video: Not just transmission of the video but also video calls and conferencing will become routine through dedicated platforms, through UC and through WebRTC in browsers.
  • HD Voice and associated protocols and codec handling
  • Rich communications leading to increased signal complexity and volume
  • OTT and WebRTC necessitating high capacity transcoding

SBCs for the future will need to be session state aware and integrate between signaling and media processing in addition to being able to support higher volumes of traffic. Free solutions are just stop-gap. You need paid solutions and if the cost is a factor then the Asterisk SBC solution leverages the power of free and open-source Asterisk. It is considerably more affordable than top name proprietary solutions.

Big brand names and others

Big brand names offer top of the line session border controller solutions, some of them a mix of software and hardware-based on DSPs. These are usually aimed at telcos and large carriers and can be extremely expensive. You are looking at names like Oracle, Nokia, and Alcatel-Lucent, to name a few. There is no doubt you get reliability and performance but it comes at a price.

The lesser known SBC developers

For the small and medium enterprises, the choice boils down to using a free SBC or get custom SBC solutions from competent but not so well known VoIP developers. Their solutions are affordable given they use the free open source Asterisk platform to come up with future-ready Asterisk SBC solutions. You get everything you need such as:

  • Topology and carrier hiding, protocol validation, SIP header manipulation
  • Protocol interworking and media transcoding
  • Even artificial intelligence for better security, least-cost routing, and importantly, integration of billing.
  • Superior support compared to big names and free software and this ensures your network is up and running at all times.
  • Better integration into your existing network architecture

Try out the free software first. You will find shortcomings. Then get the Asterisk SBC solution developed for you. The difference is vast and worth the money.

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