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What is a Gateway? An overview

An element widely used in IP telephone operator (VoIP) networks is the gateway. But, after all, what is a gateway?

Traditionally, when we talk about gateways in the world of telecommunications, we are referring to intermediate equipment, which interconnects different computer networks in addition to translating the protocols used in these networks. But how does a gateway work in this world? what is it for? How are they used?

For the VoIP scenario, gateways are more linked to the translation of protocols and conversion of technologies, where they are used mainly to connect old analogue equipment to the VoIP world, or connect one operator to another through specific interconnections.

In short, a VoIP gateway is used to convert technologies. There are several different types of gateways on the market, among which the main ones are:

FXS Gateway

This is the type of gateway most used in scenarios where there is a VoIP telephone exchange, as it is responsible for receiving calls from the analog line and converting them to a known VOIP standard.

FXO Gateway

This gateway is used to carry out the reverse process of the FXS gateway, converting VOIP calls to the standard analogue lines, allowing calls to be made directly from a telephone exchange to the public network.

GSM Gateway

This gateway connects the VoIP network to the mobile phone operators' GSM network. In this type of gateway, the operators' SIM Cards (Chips) are connected directly to it.

E1 gateway

This type of gateway interconnects the VoIP network with the public telephone operator through digital links, called E1.

These gateways can either be equipment with a specific purpose for this function, such as ATAs (Analog Telephone Adapter), or they can also be servers equipped with specific interfaces and configurations to carry out the desired protocol and network conversion.

An example of very common software to be used on these servers for gateway purposes is Asterisk, free and cost-free software that is widespread for using telephone exchanges with VoIP technology for companies.

Returning to the initial question (What is a gateway?), we can conclude that gateways are the equipment responsible for interconnecting the technologies used by operators, in order to make the entire telephone system interoperable with each other, that is, a user of a VoIP network can call a user of a cellular network normally.

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