Market Insight

Software-based session border controllers to comprise over a third of service provider network capacity by 2019

November 02, 2017

Diane Myers Diane Myers Senior Research Director, VoIP, UC, and IMS

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Following is information and insight from IHS Markit about our 2017 SBC Strategies and Vendor Leadership Service Provider Survey


  • Service providers have been deploying session border controllers (SBCs) predominantly as standalone devices, but by 2019 they will increasingly implement SBCs as software in virtualized environments and on commercial servers
  • Service provider respondents’ number-one driver for migrating SBCs to network functions virtualization (NFV) is operational efficiency
  • Among survey participants, GENBAND and Metaswitch are the leading SBC vendors under evaluation, while Oracle is tops for installed base

Our analysis

The worldwide SBC market totaled $341.4 million in the first half of 2017, declining 12 percent from the same period a year ago due to the market backing off highs related to large voice over LTE (VoLTE) orders in 2014 and 2015 in North America and Asia Pacific.

IHS Markit has been conducting its service provider SBC survey for eight years, and while things like security concerns and deployment locations have remained consistent, several important shifts surfaced in this year’s study:

  • A majority of respondent service providers deploy SBCs as standalone devices today, but by 2019 plan to move SBCs to software in either an NFV environment (24 percent of capacity) or on commercial servers (12 percent of capacity)
  • Respondents rated improved operational efficiency and simplified network provisioning as their most important drivers for migrating SBCs to an NFV environment
  • When evaluating vendors, product reliability is respondents’ most important selection criterion, followed by solution maturity and service and support

Oracle has long been the SBC market share leader, but that is shifting as an increasing number of vendors gain share. Among those surveyed, Oracle is the number-one rated vendor in terms of installed SBCs, but GENBAND and Metaswitch lead in vendors under evaluation.

In this year’s evaluation of vendors across a range of criteria including technology innovation, product reliability, pricing, and service and support, there is no clear winner. Three vendors — Huawei, Oracle and Metaswitch — split the majority of categories. The SBC market is marked by a diverse set of vendors making inroads into a variety of different network deployments. Still, the long-standing position of Oracle in service provider networks has an impact on operators’ perceptions and decisions.

SBC survey synopsis

The IHS Markit session border controller service provider survey analyzes the trends and assesses the needs of service providers deploying SBCs. The study covers SBC deployments, features, applications, security considerations, licensing and service provider opinions of vendors, including on key vendor selection criteria.

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Enterprise & IT
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