After merger, firm sets out to transform communications industry

By Melvin G. Calimag

While the communications industry does not usually attract the kind of attention and big money that high-profile firms get in the technology world, a newly merged company says the time is ripe for the sector to be disrupted and be given the importance it deserves.

Ribbon Communications vice president of solutions marketing and strategy Sanjay Bhatia

Ribbon Communications, the company that was created with the merger of Sonus Networks and Genband in October 2017, underlined this strategy in interviews with top officials during its Perspective18 conference held last June in Los Angeles, California.

Sanjay Bhatia, vice president of solutions marketing and strategy for Ribbon Communications, said the merger of Sonus and Genband is pretty much a combination of two experts in the fields of real-time communications and security.

He said Sonus had a very strong background in session border controllers (SBCs), as well as centralized policy and routing (PSX) in the enterprise. On the other hand, Genband had a large services team for end-to-end enablement of network transformation for service providers.

“But now the combined company can do transformation in the network via cloud-based solutions with our Kandy real-time software development communications platform. We offer security end-to-end security solutions with our Ribbon Protect portfolio,” Bhatia said.

Geographically, Bhatia said Sonus was very strong in Japan while Genband was dominant in Canada. “In total, we’ve now got an expanded geographic reach with our combined solutions and portfolio,” he noted.

The merger was brought by a number of things, according to the official. “There was consolidation happening among network equipment vendors. It was about gaining additional scale and broadening the portfolio.”

As a single entity, Bhatia said Ribbon Communications now has the scope and scale to radically transform the industry.

In the Philippines, the company said it has deployed solutions in fixed and mobile networks, as well as in cable networks and managed service providers.

“In those deployments, we have the SBC portfolio part for the voice-over-LTE of PLDT. As for Globe Telecom, I believe Genband has also deployed a solution,” said Bhatia.

Most firms now want to deploy cloud-based solutions, according to Bhatia. “They can do that through our Kandy cloud solutions — both UC-as-a-Service (UCaaS) and Communication Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS).”

He said large service providers have shown tremendous interest in solutions such as Kandy as they can basically “white-label” it and offer the solution to customers.

“In the case of PLDT, they can put PLDT as the brand and deploy that into businesses. So that’s where the term used UC-as-a-Service comes into play because you’re white-labeling Kandy and providing it to enterprises,” Bhatia said.

The executive also said AI or artificial intelligence is more than just a buzz word at Ribbon as it has already integrated it in its voice technology. “When you talk to the agent on your website, you actually talk to them and get a response back through text. So we’re implementing AI and those kinds of solutions as well,” Bhatia explained.

“We use AI to engage the customer and make sure that they don’t get upset in real-time communications. This is the engine and the mechanism where AI is used as another way of interacting with customers,” he added.

Security, the Ribbon executive said, is a very crucial part of the company’s strategy. “If a house has ten windows, if one or two windows are open, it won’t matter if the eight other windows are locked. This is what Ribbon Protect solution is all about. We’ll make sure no once can enter the house.”

Ribbon Communications vice president of SaaS solutions engineering Kevin Isacks

Kevin Isacks, vice president of SaaS solutions engineering at Ribbon Communications, echoed Bhatia’s assertion that security is a vital cog of the company’s business solutions.

“Ribbon Protech is our basic key security platform. However, we’ve always done security. SBCs are ultimately the security elements. You can think of it as like a real-time firewall,” he said, adding that the company has been very strong in the security space as it had some of the first SBCs ever developed.

“They’re responsible for acting like a traffic cop where they basically block the traffic that shouldn’t come through the malicious traffic and allow the good traffic to come through,” he explained.

While SBCs have been important for businesses like call centers, enterprise PABXs, and telecom carriers, Isacks said extracting data was rather difficult. “But with big data and analytics, we were able to take all the data from those different elements and put them in big database,” he said. “We can also now look for attackers in different devices.”

“Visibility gives you knowledge to find threats and then fight back. It’s becoming into a machine-to-machine warfare.” Like most industry, Isacks said the communications industry is sure to latch on new technologies such as AI and cloud computing going forward,” he observed.

“It’s all because we live in a hyper-connected world. So if you look at 5G, there will be distributed kind of scenario in communications,” he said. “But the core infrastructure will move more into public clouds within a few years. I think we’re going to see that kind of reshaping in telecommunications industry.”

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