Choosing the Right SBC for Service Providers

Finding the ultimate Session Border Controller

Session Border Controllers (SBCs) have become one of the core components of many communication stacks. As service providers worldwide continue to transition away from traditional communication systems and embrace the power of the internet, demand for SBCs is growing.

For communication service providers, the right SBC is an opportunity to provide users with a cost-effective, versatile, and scalable IP infrastructure. Next-gen technologies give service providers new ways to monetize and enhance their existing voice services and launch new solutions at the press of a button. However, to take full advantage of the benefits of the IP environment, business leaders first need to choose the right SBC.

Here are some key factors service providers should consider as they assess the SBC solutions available from market-leading brands.

1. Deployment and Architecture Options

The needs of service providers and their end users can be extremely diverse. This often means there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when choosing SBC deployment and architecture options. Depending on the needs of the business, the right deployment option may include a commodity hardware “Bare metal” SBC platform or a virtualized network function solution. Some companies may even consider using network partition as a service ecosystem.

An SBC provider with a range of flexible deployment options can help service providers adhere to the needs of their versatile consumer base. Additionally, these tools can help companies to adhere to different frameworks for their communication architecture, such as the STIR/SHAKEN framework.

In any deployment strategy, service providers should be able to ensure they’ll access the highest possible level of performance from their SBC provider. It should be simple and straightforward for a service provider to manage thousands of calls, integrate with multiple interfaces, and achieve an exceptional level of uptime for all end-users.

2. Simple and Effective Management Features

The best SBC platform isn’t just easy to set up and deploy; it should also be straightforward for service providers to manage and run according to their SLA guarantees. Powerful SBC systems can come with highly customizable platform environments where business leaders can maintain a complete view of their network architecture at all times.

Tools built specifically for the service provider network can include a range of feature options to make managing the ecosystem easier, such as integrated billing mediation systems, CMS tools for managing operations, and API access.

Many service providers will benefit from looking for a tool with a variety of valuable management features, ranging from comprehensive transcoding capabilities for dealing with different types of data to policy engines which support rule-based frameworks. It will also be important to consider things like quality control and routing opportunities to help enhance the delivery of data.

3. Analytics and Optimization

Analytics and reporting tools provide a range of benefits to service providers, allowing them not only to enhance the quality of support they deliver but also to keep track of potential threats and errors. An SBC platform with included reporting features makes it easy to track the quality of service in one convenient environment with comprehensive visibility.

The best tools offer service providers 360-degree insights into all of their key calling KPIs, as well as business intelligence analytics and advanced call tracing capabilities. Some modern SBC solutions can even offer real-time analytics designed to help companies test and monitor the quality of calls, deliver on SLAs, and even track potential fraud issues and anomalies in an instant.

Using built-in analytics, companies can improve the security and consistency of their voice, video, and multimedia services delivered over IP networks. Some solutions can even include proactive self-healing tools, which assist in boosting performance through intelligent session steering. There are also SBC tools which can provide access to their own QoS and QoE dashboards.

4. Security and Compliance

For any service provider branching into the IP landscape, maintaining high levels of security and compliance will be crucial. Analytics and reporting tools can help here by providing real-time insights into anomalies and fraud. However, it’s also important to examine the structure of the SBC solution carefully to ensure the right security precautions are already in place.

For instance, SBC providers can offer service providers the opportunity to leverage topology hiding tools, which allows each customer to determine how much transparency is given to certain pieces of information. Leading tools can offer a multi-network layer security strategy, which delivers security features for everything from signalling to media management and sessions.

While the exact security requirements of each service provider will vary, most will benefit from looking for tools with implemented firewalls, packet rate policing, flood handling, RTP policing, and dynamic blacklisting capabilities. Many solutions will also come with functionality to address a number of increasing security issues in the communication landscape, from SIP DoS attacks to RTP spoofing and ICMP flood attacks.

5. Phenomenal Flexibility

As the needs of companies and IP communication users worldwide continue to evolve, the demand for exceptional flexibility is growing. Today’s service providers need access to a highly scalable and versatile architecture, which can evolve rapidly to suit different needs.

An SBC solution with a highly customizable platform, capable of adapting at speed, will allow service providers to explore new revenue-generating services for their customers. For instance, companies can examine everything from online charging to announcements and NP lookups.

The most flexible ecosystems also make it easier for service providers to interconnect various services and solutions into a single package. The most versatile tools can even come with access to integration options, so users can connect existing routing, billing, UCaaS, and other platforms. For instance, there are tools available which come with their own SaaS solutions for service providers looking to connect their SBC ecosystem directly to existing tools like Microsoft Teams.

“Build Your Own SBC was always the philosophy of Cataleya, hence we have only one SBC model that can be configured easily to fit any size and use case not just before deployment, also after. This ensures that the customer never has the wrong product in the network” said Andreas Hipp, CEO at Cataleya.