• Spitfire completes major network upgrade

        • Internet telephony service provider and ISP, Spitfire, has completed a major upgrade programme of its network, replacing its PSTN interconnect switch with a new platform, dubbed the Next Generation Switch (NGS).

          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, preferring to have control over as much of the software as possible.

          Dominic Norton, Spitfire's Engineering Solutions Director said, “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."

          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.

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