There are a variety of routers and gateways capable of voice/VOIP and dialup processing, as well as fax, video and other media. Some models are dialup-only, others VOIP-only, some as either a dialup unit or a VOIP unit (but all ports one or the other), while newer models are universal port models - any type of traffic on any port.
Access servers developed with the explosion of the internet in the mid 1990s, and the products of several companies came to dominate the market. These included Cisco's AS5200 and AS5300 (the AS5300 also has a newer, VOIP-only version), USR's Total Control Hub (later the Total Control 1000, when acquired by 3Com), Livingston's (later Lucent's) Portmaster series, and Lucents Max lines, including the Max 4000, 6000, and TNT (which also had later VOIP versions).
By 2000 VOIP and other types of traffic began to appear, and voice/video capable models emerged. These included the Cisco AS5350 and AS5400 (including their zoomed up HPX and XM versions) along with the AS5850, a high-density telco product, while Lucent added voice capabilities to its Max line, and a variety of smaller companies developed niche products, including most successfully in the 'softswitch' IP-to-IP market (addressed by Cisco by adding softswitch capabilities to its AS5 series products), and in broadband modem/DSL servers (like Lucent's Stinger and Zhone's DSLAM).
By 2005 Cisco had emerged as the dominant player in terms of voice/data/fax/video access servers. Cisco's products are the most widely deployed, with the widest selection of features, and the best overall feature set. These features include sophisticated and extensive IVR (voice prompt handling) support. In addition, Cisco implementations often become defacto standards. It is hard to go wrong choosing a Cisco VOIP router or gateway, and their widespread deployment make finding technical support relatively easier. However, there are alternatives that offer better prices or different feature sets, particularly with respect to dialup servers, that may make nonCisco products attractive. Pay attention to what the various models will and will not do - don't assume they'll do something not stated.
Use the table below as a quick guide to the various types of VOIP and dialup gateways available, then do more investigation to make sure which model is right for you.
|An Overview |
of VOIP and Dialup Routers and Gateways
|AS5300||Cisco||VOIP or Dialup||4 T1/E1||120 (PRI)||Separate hardware for voice and dialup setup. The most popular dialup and VOIP gateway deployed.|
|AS5350 and AS5350XM||Cisco||VOIP and Dialup||8 T1 E1s or 1 CT3 (G711 only in the AS5350XM)||Normally 210, except for the CT3 G711 configuration of the AS5350XM (PRI)||The standard for universal |
voip/data gateways. Best IVR (internal voice prompt) support. the XM has a must faster CPU and gigabit ethernet.
|AS5400 including HPX and XM||Cisco||VOIP and Dialup||16 T1/E1s or 1 CT3. Identical to AS5350 but with 7 slots instead of 3.||672 (PRI)||The standard for universal |
voip/data gateways. Best IVR (internal voice prompt) support. The AS5400HPX is about 1.5x as fast as the base AS5400, and the AS5400XM is 2.5x as fast plus adds gigabit ethernet.
|AS5850||Cisco||VOIP and Dialup||96 T1/E1s or 4 CT3 (plus STM1 interface model is available)||2800 (PRI)||Large gateway provides great |
performance & value at 2DS3 or more. Best IVR support. Has dual DC and dual processors (eRSC) cards.
|2000 Series, including the 2600XM modular routers.||Cisco||VOIP or Dialup||1-8 T1s/E1s, FXS/FXO, or POTs (an excellent choice for locations without PRI availability)||240 (PRI) |
| VOIP |
T1/E1 configurations use NM-HDV expansion cards with PRI VWICs, or VWIC slots and internal DSP modules. FXS/FXO
configurations use NM-2V and VIC/VIC2 FXS or FXO cards. Dialup
configurations use the NM-8AM or 16AM to provide analog dialup
connectivity via POTs (ordinary phone lines).
|3000 Series - 3600, 3700, series routers.||Cisco||VOIP or Dialup||1-8 T1s/E1s, FXS/FXO, or POTs||240 (PRI) |
|Similar to the 2000 series(see above)|
|ISR Routers, including the 2800/2900 and 3800/3900||Cisco||VOIP or Dialup||1-8 T1s/E1s, FXS/FXO, or POTs||240 (PRI) |
|Like the 2000/300 series above, adding support for Cisco PVDM2 DSP modules. Cisco's ISR modular routers (Cisco's newest lines) integrate multiple functions, including security, voicemail, switching functions, and other network capabilities, in a single router. Excellent if needing these multiple functions in a single unit.|
|IAD2400||Cisco||VOIP||8-32 FXS or 1 T1/E1||16 FXS||FXS-only VOIP gateway for |
attaching ordinary phones to a VOIP network.
|Max 6000||Lucent||VOIP or Dialup||4 T1/E1||120 (PRI)||Earlier expansion cards |
support H323/SIP VOIP -OR- V90 dialup. More recent (60m) cards support H323/SIP VOIP -AND- V92 dialup (one or the other at a time).
|Max TNT/APX||Lucent||VOIP and Dialup||96 T1/E1s or 4 CT3||2800 (PRI)||Large gateways provide |
excellent value, but limited IVR support. IVRs must be handled by
separate Asterisk or other server. Highly modular with many cards possible. Limited technical support available.
|Total Control 1000||3Com/UTStar||Dialup||14T1/E1s||420 (PRI) or more with Multispan card sets||Highly modular, excellent V92 dialup gateway. Great dialup connectivity - usually leads testing results. Scales up nicely to support 14 PRIs. Rugged.|
|Portmaster 3||Lucent/Livingston||Dialup||2T1/E1||60 (PRI)||Older, small, and simple V90 |
dialup gateway that is still remarkable for its small size, reliability,
and quality of connections.