Intelligent Network (IN) Basics
In a telecommunications network, the main task for the switch is to process large volumes of calls. It is not designed for complicated tasks such as processing, accessing large databases, interaction through user friendly Web interfaces or creating new intelligent value added services. This is why we require Intelligent Networks (IN) for these tasks.
IN performs the following functions:
Call monitoring: IN monitors calls and collects information, such as billing or invoicing data.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is not an IN service but a complement to it. IVR interacts with the caller through voice recordings and keypad signalling (DTMF). For example: "For technical support press one, for customer service press two". This service is produced by an IVR platform which is a key part of our technology portfolio.
An IVR can work independently from IN, but is five to ten times more efficient if it works in parallel. When IN controls the call to the IVR, "tromboning" can be avoided (as explained in 'The History of Intelligent Networks' below).
The History of Intelligent Networks
Originally the telephony network was just a switching network, its only function being to route calls from the originating party to the destination party. A need did exist for value-added services in the network, but operators were limited to switch based services.
In order to overcome the problem of having services executed in the switches, a new type of node was introduced in the telephony network: the Service Node. However, there was a major disadvantage; all calls needed to be routed to the Service Node and switched back to the network again (tromboned). This meant a lot of expensive extra interface cards were needed.
The tromboning problem was solved in the 90's with the introduction of Intelligent Networks. IN introduced a non-call related protocol which enabled a service platform to instruct and control the call in the switch, without the call being routed to the service platform. The protocol was named IN Application Protocol (INAP) and the service platform using it a Service Control Point (SCP).
A SCP can control many switches simultaneously and process millions of calls per day, which means the cost per call is just a fraction of what it would be using a service node. The cost effective nature of the SCP makes it suitable both for high end value-added and volume based services.