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Next Generation Voice and IMS Forecast

Worldwide service provider next generation voice and IMS equipment revenue dropped 7 percent to $722 million in the first quarter of 2006, but is up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2005, according to Infonetics Research.

Strong annual growth will continue over the next few years, driven by media gateways and softswitches, with the total next generation voice market hitting new highs each year until it reaches $6.2 billion in 2009. Phenomenal growth in residential and SOHO VoIP subscribers is forecast as well. Worldwide, the number of subscribers is expected to nearly double between 2005 and 2006 to 47.3 million, and will continue to skyrocket through 2009. In 2006, there will be:

- 21.3 million subscribers in Asia Pacific, up 50 percent from 2005
- 13.6 million subscribers in EMEA, up 151 percent from 2005
- 12.3 million subscribers in North America, up 184 percent from 2005

"As usual, the first quarter for next gen voice was weak, but year over year, it continues to grow well," said St�phane T�ral, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. "We're keeping our eyes on three emerging trends. First, session border controllers could be used as the traffic cop ensuring VoIP security, and as the security gateway in IMS acting as a P-CSCF. Second, media servers are evolving to become the MRF (Media Resource Function) in IMS architecture. And third, while softswitches are still growing, the pace of IMS deployments -- along with service providers' willingness to find alternatives -- may lead to a diminishing role of softswitches."

Market Highlights:

- A total of $21.6 billion will be spent on service provider next gen voice and IMS equipment worldwide during the five-year period between 2005 and 2009.
- Although softswitch revenue was flat in 1Q06 and will remain flat in 2006, it is expected to grow to $2.6 billion in 2009, as they are the core of next gen voice networks.
- The session border controller segment is growing fast, up 29 percent sequentially and 99 percent from a year ago in 1Q05.
- In 1Q06, media gateways and softswitches made up 86% of total service provider next gen voice and IMS equipment revenue; as more traffic becomes IP, softswitches will increase their share at the expense of media gateways.
- Sonus leads the trunk media gateway segment, Nortel leads the softswitch segment, Acme Packet leads the SBC segment, Cantata leads the media server segment, and Broadsoft leads the voice application server segment.
- In 1Q06, Nortel continued its lead in the combination media gateway/softswitch market, Siemens takes second place, and Huawei emerges in third.

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