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What is a Media Gateway? How does a Digital Media Gateway or SIP Media Gateway work?

A Media Gateway is a networking device that provides valuable and essential functions for organizations, service providers, and network operators. When interconnecting traditional time-division-multiplexed (TDM) telephony systems with modern voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) systems, a VoIP media gateway works by providing protocol conversion (translation) and interoperability between the two network technologies. Also known as an IP media gateway or SIP media gateway, the device converts a traditional analog plain-old-telephone-system (POTS) voice signal or related digital telephony signals such as T1, DS3, STM1 or OC3 into packets for transmission over a data network such as the Internet, private IP Network or a corporate LAN. When the legacy system is based on digital integrated services digital network (ISDN) technology, the device may be called a digital VoIP gateway or ISDN media gateway. Some manufacturers combine gateway functionality with WAN-access (internet-access) capability into a single device or network appliance. Such a dual-purpose device may be known as an access media gateway.

Many organizations are replacing their traditional public-switched-telephone-network (PSTN) trunk lines (T1/E1/PRI) with voice-over-IP (VoIP) trunks. Since the most popular modern VoIP protocol today is the session initiation protocol or SIP, the VoIP trunk is usually called a SIP trunk and the gateway may be called a trunk media gateway. The diagram below shows a SIP trunk gateway within a VoIP network application.

What is a media gateway? Drawing shows SIP Media gateway (digital media gateway) in a SIP trunk Application

Media Gateway in a SIP trunk Application

Enterprise Applications

Any size enterprise can use a media gateway to transition gradually from legacy circuit-switched, time-division-multiplexed (TDM) infrastructure to packet-switched internet-protocol (IP) network architecture. When embarking on ALL-IP network transformation, a SIP gateway is an essential element.

Businesses normally use VoIP gateways to extend the life of traditional TDM gear--including legacy PBXs, analog phones, and analog lines for elevator phones, alarm systems and fax machines--while gradually implementing IP-based technologies. Corporate IT organizations can use media gateways to:

  • Augment or replace a traditional analog or digital PBX system with SIP trunk service
  • Connect legacy equipment to new IP networks
  • Protect and extend investments in TDM and analog devices
  • Preserve the useful life of existing telco-line equipment
  • Avoid costly rip-and-replace upgrades

Telecom Applications

Many network operators today maintain legacy TDM and modern IP networks concurrently, with interconnections between them. A telecom media gateway provides protocol conversion and interoperability between the two disparate networks. Often another device, known as a media-gateway controller, is employed to provide signaling and call control for the telecom gateway using the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP). Such a hybrid service provider network architecture is depicted in the drawing below.

Hybrid Media Gateways in a Service Provider network. What is a media gateway?></center><br>
<font style=Hybrid Media Gateways in a Service Provider network

Network operators, mobile, and fixed-line service providers often use media gateways to:

  • Perform IP-to-IP media conversion for converged networks
  • Deliver SIP-based services to legacy TDM-based customers
  • Replace legacy TDM central office switches

SN10100A Media Gateway


Show Me: Types of Media Gateway Products

There are several types of media gateways to address the differing requirements of various network applications. Considerations include the type of legacy technology (ISDN or POTS), number of concurrent calls you require, and any added features desired (WAN optimization, downstream QoS, SIP TLS, SRTP, stateful firewall, auto-provisioning, and so on.)

Trunking Media Gateway

A trunking gateway connects a large number of phone lines to a SIP trunk.

The SmartNode SN4970A PRI VoIP Gateway provides 1 or 4 T1/E1/PRI interfaces to support up to 120 simultaneous phone or fax calls. This gateway offers Enterprises a cost-effective solution to IP-enable legacy PBX systems.

SmartNode SN4970A PRI Digital Media Gateway

PBX Gateway

A PBX gateway interconnects a legacy PBX with an IP service provider network and/or an enterprise IP local area network (LAN).

The SmartNode SN4170 PBX Media Gateway is designed to address the PRI-SIP Gateway requirements of small and medium-sized enterprises. This PBX gateway provides a cost-effective way to bridge PBX systems on multiple sites or connect them to a public Internet telephony service.

SmartNode SN4170 PBX Media Gateway and Digital Media Gateway

Business Media Gateway

A business media gateway is specifically designed to enhance a business phone system by IP-enabling the existing business phone equipment.

The SmartNode 5570 enterprise session border controller (eSBC) and router is a highly-flexible business media gateway that provides a bridge from a wide range of IP-PBX products to a SIP trunk service provider. Built-in Security features such as SIP TLS, SRTP, Stateful Firewall and secure provisioning, it protects the LAN networks from fraud strikes out of the Internet.

SmartNode 5570  enterprise session border controller (eSBC) and router

Interconnect Media Gateway

Used in carrier and service-provider networks, in the core or on the edge, the interconnect media gateway does just what it says: interconnects a legacy SS7 carrier network with a modern IP network.

The SmartNode SN10200 Edge Media Gateway is an interconnect media gateway that interconnects traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN)--using time-division multiplexing (TDM) with SS7 SigTran protocol signaling--and emerging SIP-over-IP telephony networks. Positioned at the network core or edge, SmartNode SS7 media gateway enables service providers to preserve the quality and reliability of TDM networks with SS7 signaling while transitioning to advanced IP telephony.

SmartNode SN10200 Edge Media Gateway

How to Choose the Best Media Gateway

Look for the following capabilities when selecting a VoIP media gateway for your busines:

  • Interoperability: seamless integration with TDM PBXs and PSTN providers
  • Features: support for such advanced features as SIP registrar, SIP TLS/SRTP, and stateful firewall.
  • FAX: Full support for internet fax
  • Protocols: Seamless migration from TDM to SIP with complete selection of CODECS
  • Quality: Patton products are designed, developed, and manufactured in the USA.

SS7 Gateways
SmartNode, SN10100
High-Density T1/E1 Gateway 4 to 16 x T1/E1/J1 Ports
SmartNode, SN10200
16 to 64 x T1/E1/J1, 1 to 3 DS3, or 1 OC3/STM-1 Edge Media Gateway
SmartNode, SN10300
16 to 1024 x T1/E1/J1, 1 to 48 DS3, or 1 to 16 OC3/STM-1 Edge/Core Media Gateway
SmartNode, SN10500
Carrier-Grade Session Border Controller with TDM Fallback Capabilities | Up to 5000 signaling/media sessions
Trunking Media Gateways
SmartNode, SN10100
High-Density T1/E1 Gateway 4 to 16 x T1/E1/J1 Ports
SmartNode, SN4980A
PRI VoIP Gateway-Router | 1 or 4 T1/E1/PRI interface for up to 120 simultaneous phone or fax calls
SmartNode, SN5540
eSBC + Router | 2, 4 or 8 analog ports for up to 8 phone or fax calls
SmartNode, SN5570
eSBC + Router | 1 or 2 T1/E1/PRI interface for up to 30 simultaneous phone or fax calls
Business PBX Media Gateways
SmartNode, SN4140
Analog VoIP Gateway | 2, 4 or 8 analog ports for up to 8 phone or fax calls
SmartNode, SN4170
PRI VoIP Gateway | One T1/E1/PRI interface for up to 30 simultaneous phone or fax calls
SmartNode, SN4970A
PRI VoIP Gateway | 1 or 4 T1/E1/PRI interface for up to 120 simultaneous phone or fax calls
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