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VeriSign Increases Telecom Focus with New Tech

VeriSign Inc. Monday moved to stitch together two acquisitions as part of a push to gain ground in the telecom space with new signaling and billing technology intended to make it a core utility for carriers.

VeriSign unveiled its plans for Illuminet, acquired last September, and H.O. Systems, acquired in January, at the Supercomm show in Atlanta.

Under the firm's new strategy, it will weld together Illuminet and H.O. Systems as the VeriSign Telecommunications Services Group.

Through the acquisition of Illuminet, VeriSign picked up an SS7 network , which provides carriers access to the system of signaling networks for nearly the entire U.S. public-switched telecommunications infrastructure. At the time of the acquisition, VeriSign said it expected to use its own portfolio of technology to offer new services to Illuminet's customers, including secure short messaging, local number portability, and Voice Over IP (VoIP) bridging.

H.O. Systems, on the other hand, brought VeriSign billing and customer care solutions for wireless carriers. It picked up the company with the intention of expanding the Illuminet portfolio of services with end-to-end billing and CRM applications for wireless carriers.

The new Telecommunications Services Group is geared toward making those intentions a reality, aided by a new IP platform for telecom database services dubbed the Advanced Transaction Look-up and Signaling system (ATLAS).

VeriSign said ATLAS can seamlessly interact with multiple protocols -- including DNS , SIP , and SS7 -- giving it the potential to serve as a database platform for Local Number Portability, Calling Name, LIDB, and other database look-ups. The company said that by bridging these protocols, users will eventually be able to communicate and transact business across different kinds of networks using all kinds of devices, from wireline phones to mobile phones, PDAs and PCs.

"ATLAS positions VeriSign to deliver the promise of convergence by providing a scalable, reliable, and flexible platform that bridges Internet and telephony services," said Ari Balogh, vice president, engineering, VeriSign. "The ability to talk IP on one end and SS7 on the other creates fast data look-ups across both worlds."

Additionally, VeriSign said ATLAS is capable of handling more than 100 billion Internet connections per day within a fraction of a second. It also promised that the platform can provide faster domain name resolution and updates.

On the services front, VeriSign also unveiled NetDiscovery Services, an offering aimed at carriers facing the Federal Communications Commission's June 30, 2002, deadline for compliance with the 1994 CALEA -- Communications Assistance Law Enforcement Act -- mandate. CALEA, which recently gained momentum with the passage of the USA Patriot Act, mandates that telecom service providers support law enforcement agencies in conducting lawfully authorized electronic surveillance of call content and call data.

After the deadline passes, carriers will face a $10,000 per day fine for each law enforcement agency intercept request that is not fulfilled.

"In addition to sunk costs, administration is perhaps the biggest headache for carriers," said Terry Kremian, executive vice president of Telecommunications Services for VeriSign. "CALEA requires that carriers provision network elements for the intercept event, intercept the call content and data, deliver it directly to one or more law enforcement monitoring facilities in a standard format, and provide secure records storage. Depending on the city, type and number of switches involved, carrier costs for compliance are estimated to be as much as half a million dollars per switch to upgrade, and at a minimum $150,000 annually to implement while maintaining the credentialed staff and secure processes and facilities required to properly intercept requests under CALEA.

Instead, NetDiscovery Services is a service bureau solution that allows carriers to fulfill their obligations under the law while outsourcing fulfillment to VeriSign's maximum security facilities and personnel.