SBC vs. SIP Server – What is the difference?

by Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing at TelcoBridges

The question came early and often during our participation at Astricon 2018 in Orlando.  “What’s the difference between an SBC and a SIP Server like Kamailio or OpenSIPs?”   Reminding us that in our world of telecom jargon, sometimes we need to stop and explain what we are talking about.

Let’s step back for a moment to look at the big picture.  When deploying SIP-based applications like Asterisk or FreeSWITCH, at some point, there is a need to divide the call load amongst multiple servers (physical or virtual).  Possibly because of traffic or simply to hedge bets against outages from a server crash, spreading traffic across multiple physical servers is a wise strategy.  The next challenge is routing incoming traffic from one or more service providers to those SIP applications.  Both SIP servers and SBCs can route traffic based on a range of programmable criteria including: dialed number, originating number, randomly, round-robin, availability and more.

Both SIP Servers and SBCs can also handle some of the interoperability and security services, but this is where the differences start to be more apparent.

So, what is an SBC and how does it differ from a SIP Server like Kamailio or OpenSIPs?

The simplest explanation is – SIP Servers manipulate and route SIP messages, never touching the media path.   However, SBCs broker SIP messages and media, acting as an intermediary between two networks, applying complex manipulations, security and routing rules on both the signaling and media.

SIP Server Functional Architecture

SIP message and media brokering within an SBC is accomplished via a Back-to-Back User Agent (or B2BUA for short), essentially terminating the SIP session on one network and re-initiating a new session on another network.  This can be between a WAN and LAN, between two WANs or two LANs.   The most common use case for SBCs puts them in the DMZ, putting one side on the WAN and the other side on a private (and secure) LAN with SIP applications (Asterisk, FreeSWITCH or other) on the protected LAN.  In this role, the SBC protects and distributes the traffic load across the various SIP applications.

Session Border Controller Functional Architecture

Using a B2BUA is more resource intensive than a simple SIP Server, but this is balanced by the additional functionality and security provided.

Beyond greater control over security policies, SBC’s B2BUA capabilities have other benefits, including:

  • Real Topology Hiding – of both SIP messages and media, ensuring the internal network topology of your network is not exposed to the outside world.
  • DOS and DDOS Protection – Intelligent security that stops DOS attacks in their tracks before they can get into your network.
  • Registration Flood Detection and Protection – preventing “network probing” and attempts to overload Asterisk servers with bogus registration attempts.
  • Media conversion and transcoding
  • Advanced call routing and traffic management capabilities across multiple networks.
  • Multi-application support – distributing and adapting SIP traffic between dissimilar applications from different vendors.

Beyond that, there are many other reasons to use commercial SBCs like FreeSBC for scaling Asterisk and FreeSWITCH implementations:

  • Ease of configuration – with FreeSBC’s easy to use web portal, there are no cryptic script languages to learn!  Most configurations can be completed in a few minutes with a web browser.   Want to see how it’s done?  Take a tour of the web portal and learn how to configure FreeSBC for SIP Trunking on YouTube at:   https://youtu.be/GvfKSw1H6gU
  • Low cost subscription-based pricing that allows “pay as you grow” $1/session/year/server for FreeSBC Pro Edition
  • Carrier-grade – with scaling up to 60,000 sessions per server with 1+1 redundancy for High Availability
  • Platform choices – with versions for bare-metal, VMware, KVM and Amazon AWS
  • 24/7 Technical support availability
  • Regular software updates without having to wade through forum recommendations and Github branches

Understanding the difference between these two important network elements gives network designers the tools to build more efficient and secure solutions.

You can learn more by attending the upcoming webinar “What is an SBC?” at:  https://www2.telcobridges.com/WhatIsAnSBC

Download your free evaluation copy of FreeSBC TODAY at: www.FreeSBC.com

 

The State of Robocalling – a discussion with Eric Burger, FCC

by Harry Wakefield, Marketing Communications, TelcoBridges

TelcoBridges executives were in Chicago this week for the 2018 IIT RTC Conference and Expo. Our own Alan Percy sat down and recorded a podcast with FCC Chief Technology Officer Eric Burger, discussing one of our favourite subjects, robocalling fraud and actions the FCC is taking to protect consumers.


Listen at: https://youtu.be/nUTA2m1Chnk

Our conversation touched on several aspects:

  • how it’s the #1 consumer protection issue right now for the FCC
  • it’s also personal, Mr. Burger’s phone actually rang with a robocall during his presentation! (not planned)
  • says he, it’s a “real problem with real impacts”
  • how to handle fraudulent robocalling vs legitimate uses by automated dialling systems
  • neighbourhood spoofing and related legislation
  • recent actions by the FCC including very large fines
  • the more than $200 million dollars in fines levied so far this year (a record)
  • new technologies that can help like STIR/SHAKEN
  • a progress report on that technology
  • the parts, the goals, and the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN
  • the roles of the vendors and carriers and a timeline for the deployment
  • and last thoughts, “there’s hope!”

Learn more about STIR/SHAKEN during a webinar TelcoBridges hosted with TransNexus at: https://freesbc.telcobridges.com/video-library/#Robo

FreeSBC takes to the Cloud on AWS

by Alan D. Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing

As a greater range of communications applications are migrating to the cloud, there is a greater need for affordable cloud-hosted session border controller network services.   To answer this need, TelcoBridges recently announced that the company’s FreeSBC session border controller software is now available on Amazon Web Services.   Offering feature-rich services comparable to native bare-metal installations and virtualized platforms, the AWS Amazon Machine Image (AMI), provides core network security, interoperability and media services for service providers and enterprises.

Across the industry, cloud-based communications is on a steady growth trend.  As application architects piece together their solutions using cloud-bases services, it makes sense to have an affordable SBC to provide security, interoperability and media services.

Greg Collins at Exact Ventures forecasts that by 2022 nearly 75% of all session border controller shipments will be cloud-based

Luc Morissette, Director of Customer Support at TelcoBridges will be joining me for a live webinar on Tuesday, September 25th to deliver an overview of the new FreeSBC on AWS offer, covering the capabilities, limitations and demonstrating the activation process.

During the webinar we explain the three distinct offerings, including:

  1. FreeSBC on AWS as a fully hosted offering – making testing and evaluation much easier for prospective customers, allowing evaluation without dedicating a VM or hardware servers.
  2. FreeSBC PRO-edition – offered as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) with all the PRO-edition features and standard support for $1/session/year
  3. FreeSBC free-edition – offered as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) without support

The session will wrap up by putting a spotlight on the many use cases, showing how hosted contact centers, hosted Unified Communications and traditional telephony services will benefit from cloud-based FreeSBC.

Register for the live event today at:  https://www2.telcobridges.com/FreeSBConAWS

For more information on FreeSBC, visit www.freesbc.com

Battling Robocallers – Round 2

By Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing, TelcoBridges

The battle to tame fraudulent robocalling made some significant advancements this week as the SIP Forum released two new technical reports.

If you’ve been following along, you know that fraudulent robocalling and caller-ID spoofing have become the tools-of-the-trade for criminals trying to trick unsuspecting victims into their scams.   (By now you’ve come to realize that you can’t trust the caller-ID on your phone.) The FCC and the CRTC have put deadlines in front of the carriers, requiring implementation of secure caller-ID technologies to prevent spoofing of caller-ID.

To address these requirements, the ATIS and SIP Forum announced this week the release of two key specifications needed to standardize the user experience and APIs needed for implementation of SHAKEN.


The first specification Technical Report on a Framework for Display of Verified Caller ID (ATIS-1000081) defines a standard user experience for calls from known callers, likely SPAM callers, suspect and potential fraudulent callers with color icons and information on screen-based devices.   The specification details the user experience study that went into the graphical images, providing data on real-world user responses and behaviors to the information displayed.

The second specification Technical Report on SHAKEN API for a Centralized Signing and Signature Validation Server provides a proposed RESTful API for the implementation of the SHAKEN specification, used to authenticate and verify caller-ID for network-based calls.  This recommendation is an alternative to the SIP-based mechanism as specified in the SHAKEN recommendations, as is currently used by a number of vendors, including TransNexus and TelcoBridges.

“These two new resources are critical to helping service providers implement SHAKEN,” said ATIS President and CEO Susan Miller. “They are products of ATIS’ continued collaboration with the SIP Forum and are instrumental to industry efforts to address the robocalling problem and maintain consumer trust in the voice network.”

“The SIP Forum is committed to working together with ATIS to continue to develop the operational documents for the SHAKEN Framework, and these two new reports provide important additional guidelines and details essential to the successful deployment of the SHAKEN standard,” said SIP Forum Chairman Richard Shockey.

In addition to the above announcement, we’ve made significant progress with TransNexus on their SHAKEN fraud prevention framework, recently posted detailed configuration notes on how to configure both FreeSBC and TransNexus OSPrey server and completed our bench testing milestones.

Looking ahead and demonstrating the level of interest on the topic, a dedicated track and session on Robocalling is scheduled for SIPNOC 2018.

To learn more about STIR/SHAKEN, view the recording of our Battling Robocallers webinar and/or sign-up for one of the TransNexus Discover SHAKEN events.

Caller-ID Spoofing – No, That’s Not Your Neighbor Calling

By Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing, TelcoBridges

The phone rings and the number looks familiar, just a few digits off from your own.  You wonder if a neighbor or possibly your child’s school calling, so you answer only to hear “Congratulations, you’ve been selected for a three night vacation package”   You’ve been tricked into answering by a Robocaller, using caller-ID spoofing.  Continue reading Caller-ID Spoofing – No, That’s Not Your Neighbor Calling

Now Available: More Choice for TelcoBridges Academy Training

For 2017 TelcoBridges’ free training for its Tmedia and Tsbc products is now available through a new eLearning platform that blends self-paced learning with a live instructor-led virtual classroom.

The eLearning platform provides users with more course choices as well as timing options so that users can fit training into their busy schedules.

Register for a course in 4 easy steps:

1. Go to https://academy-telcobridges.talentlms.com
2. Signup for your account
3. Login once your account is activated by a TelcoBridges instructor
4. Start your course and follow the instructions to register to an instructor-led session

For more info watch the TelcoBridges eLearning Tutorial video here.

Don’t miss our next “Tmedia Gateway – Essentials and Configuration” course series, the first session starts on March 16th 2017. Signup and register for it here.

TelcoBridges Q&A: What are the advantages of TelcoBridges’ unique programmable routing script?

A compelling facet of our Tctrl software is its unique programmable routing script, part of what is considered one of the best call routing engines in the industry. Tctrl currently powers our Tmedia Gateways and our TSBC5000 Session Border Controller. We asked Sylvain, one of our engineers, to explain.

Continue reading TelcoBridges Q&A: What are the advantages of TelcoBridges’ unique programmable routing script?

TelcoBridges Q&A: How does TelcoBridges handle High Availability?

Illustration showing the Integrated HA features of our Carrier-Grade Platform, the TMG7800.
Illustration showing the Integrated HA features of our Carrier-Grade Platform, the TMG7800 Media Gateway.

Customers often ask us about High Availability (HA), for example, how our TelcoBridges Tsbc session border controllers and Tmedia gateways implement this mission critical function. We asked Sylvain, one of our engineers, to explain.

Continue reading TelcoBridges Q&A: How does TelcoBridges handle High Availability?

TelcoBridges Q&A: How does the Tsbc handle SIP-I to SIP?

A diagram showing our SIP-I to SIP compliance for Orange France, read more about it here.
A diagram showing our SIP-I to SIP compliance for Orange France, read more about it here.

One of the advantages of the TelcoBridges Tsbc session border controller is the way we handle SIP-I to SIP communications with our proprietary technology. We asked Sylvain, one of our engineers, to explain.

Continue reading TelcoBridges Q&A: How does the Tsbc handle SIP-I to SIP?