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Spitfire completes major network upgrade

12 March 2018

 

Spitfire, the multi-award winning Internet telephony service provider and ISP has completed a major upgrade programme of its network replacing its PSTN interconnect switch with a new platform dubbed the Next Generation Switch (NGS). Spitfire has been offering voice services using its own telephone exchange equipment since 2001 when the company became what was known then as an Annex 2 interconnected operator.

 

Spitfire’s old TDM switch had served Spitfire well but as Graham Lewis Spitfire’s Director IP Engineering said “configuration limitations were becoming apparent and it was less reliable, with spare parts harder to obtain. We hoped that the old switch would last until TDM interconnect had been replaced by an all SIP national interconnect, however like much of the rest of the World, the UK still relies on TDM switching based on the SS7 protocol between carriers. We started the search for a new PSTN Exchange switch in 2015. However, we found that replacement options were either using obsolete technologies or locked us into a vendor’s complete ecosystem.  Consequently, we began work on building our own Next Generation Switch based upon our many years of experience of systems development.”

 

The Spitfire NGS has been developed in-house using open source software to perform basic telephony functions with Spitfire creating its own proprietary switching, routing and control software code. In the new switch Spitfire has reduced proprietary hardware and software to the absolute minimum necessary, preferring to have control over as much of the software as possible.

 

PSTN interconnect is a regulated environment and connecting a new PSTN switch type to the BT network in the UK requires a series of approvals. Extensive interoperability testing with BT began in January 2017 and took several months to complete to ensure that the new switch and proprietary gateways met the detailed regulatory requirements of Ofcom and technical requirements of the NICC. Testing manuals and specification documents several inches thick were poured over for weeks at a time as testing progressed.

 

After the interoperability testing was completed, a phased programme to bring the new exchanges into service whilst maintaining compatibility with the existing system was implemented. Extensive testing with BT was required as each new switch and set of routes were brought into service. The rollout project took place over the summer of 2017 with the final connections swapped over at the end of September 2017.

 

The Spitfire NGS overcomes the limitations of Spitfire’s old platform and allowed for the introduction of new services. In particular the flexibility to configure customer diverts is greatly enhanced and Spitfire will soon be offering the option to configure diverts through the customer portal.

 

Resilience of the Spitfire voice service has been improved by deploying three separate NGS exchanges spread across two geographic locations with each NGS connecting to multiple BT POPs. Diverse IP paths have been created for SIP to TDM traffic and power to each NGS is taken from separate feeds. NGS allows Spitfire to now offer fully resilient SIP trunks that allow for automatic failovers and more complex disaster recovery scenarios.

 

Spitfire’s Engineering Solutions Director, Dominic Norton stated, “The creation of the Next Generation Switch is a landmark in Spitfire’s history, seeing us going from a switchless reseller in 1999, an interconnected operator in 2001, through to 2017 where we have developed our own switching solutions for the benefit of our customers and partners.

 

“With the ending of the public ISDN network by 2025, Spitfire’s ability to offer our customers and partners resilient SIP trunk connectivity, based on our advanced IP engineering skills, gives us a critical advantage in the UK market.”

 

Ends.

 

Spitfire Technology Group – delivering cost-effective comms solutions

Spitfire Technology Group was established in 1988 and today is one of the largest independent voice and data solution suppliers in the South East region providing carrier network services and Internet connections. The company also supplies voice and data networks, including phone systems produced by a number of leading manufacturers, with a full support and maintenance service.

 

Spitfire Technology Group can supply a comprehensive service for customers that extends from designing and implementing a telephony and data communications network to providing line rental and call billing, with complete after sales technical support and customer service.

 

Based in London and with a Midlands office in Redditch, Spitfire Technology Group employs over 100 staff and has an annual turnover in excess of £23 million. The company is dedicated to providing customers with integrated communication solutions that deliver cost savings and real benefits for business productivity and efficiency.

 

For further information contact:

Susie Ward

Marketing Director

Spitfire Technology Group

Tel: 020 7501 3085

Fax: 020 7501 3001

E-mail: susie.ward@spitfire.co.uk

Web: www.spitfire.co.uk

 

Editorial enquiries:

Glyn Pritchard

Vox Communications

Tel: 01892 822790

E-mail: glyn.pritchard@voxcomm.co.uk

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