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Synchronization keeps VoIP engines humming

Lackluster VoIP call quality in many organizations is simply a result of bad timing -- literally. It's a problem that Symmetricom and other emerging players are aiming to solve.

Synchronization seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of VoIP service components -- it never gets any respect.

While synchronization is rarely the top priority during a VoIP implementation, the true value of frequency systems can be realized when calls begin to echo or sound tinny.

Frank Bernhard, an analyst with Davis, Calif.-based OMNI Research Group LLC, said one can liken synchronization to the timing belt in a car. In a vehicle's four-stroke internal combustion engine, the top half of the engine must be synchronized with the bottom half to complete the four-stroke cycle.

For enterprises, frequency equipment synchronizes the flow of voice and other network data by providing a timing signal based on the recognized Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) standard.

"The timing in your network is something that's just part of making VoIP work," Bernhard added. "It's one of the areas of critical sensibility toward quality."

Synchronization systems provide timing signals to each node in a digital network. These timing signals are traceable to a primary reference source(PRS), or any device that eliminates phase wander and jitter accumulated along the transmission paths by ensuring that all outgoing network transmission nodes have the same average frequency.

Time frequency products, such as Symmetricom Inc.'s TimeProvider edge clock system, increase network performance for services such as VoIP and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV).

Gurdip Jande, senior vice president of marketing with San Jose, Calif.-based Symmetricom, said TimeProvider offers an even more accurate timing infrastructure -- for both non-real time and real-time applications.

He said pacing the flow of information in the network minimizes data slips, which require either the retransmission of lost data for non-real time services or degrades the service quality of VoIP and other real-time services.

According to Jande, the company's recently released upgrade ultimately makes TimeProvider a standalone PRS and eliminates the need to purchase or use separate PRS equipment.

Additionally, Symmetricom augmented the product by adding integration with the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Symmetricom Inc.'s TimeProvider edge clock system.
"GPS adds a whole new layer of location-based services," Jande said. "With it, you have resiliency and increased synchronization in terms of location."

Jande said the upgraded TimeProvider offers rubidium oscillators, which permit the deployment of antennas that may have an obstructed view of the sky, to extend the holdover signal in case of a GPS outage.

Available now, the upgraded TimeProvider, which is fully loaded with GPS and the rubidium option, starts at $19,800.

While the manufacturer faces enterprise market competition from Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. and others, Bernhard said Symmetricom's entrenchment in the carrier market demonstrates its ability to deliver quality products.

This article originally appeared on, a sister site of

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