Saturday, October 30, 2004
or: Netheads and Bellheads
or: Incumbent Telcos against Incumbent Cable Operators
The recent decision in the US to go for ENUM +1 (speading like wildfire over the blogger community) will definitely boost the ENUM deployment worldwide. Although for ENUM at least many ENUM trials existed (more or less advanced) in Europe and also in Asia, the US was not even delegated in e164.arpa. Many ENUM sceptics therefore asked the perfectly valid question: What about the NANP? As long as ENUM is not deployed in the US, it will not fly. This argument may now go away.
The revival of ENUM, but also the recent developments regarding DUNDi and GNUP also revitalized the discussion if VoIP and especially SIP should use numbers or URIs. A lot of bloggers are throwing their two cents worth on the numbering issue in VoIP and ENUM.
Starting with Chris Holland Numbers are so 1849, also Robert Sanders Number of the Beast (still pointing to RFC2916 instead of RFC3761 for ENUM) and ending with Answaths Numbering and Addressing in VoIP: Wag the Dog?
Answath's article is analyzing the recent history quite well and he draws the following conclusion: "So there is only one reason for sticking to E.164 numbers - the industry is lazy or risk averse in trying to change the UI of the terminal. So as advocates of VoIP, we should strive for improved UI for the terminals and insist on URI based dialing (which will marginalize the service providers). Oh, by the way, do everything to encourage your circle of friend to migrate to VoIP. This means you should not subscribe to additional virtual numbers, because this will take away the economical motivation to get VoIP."
This is IMHO reaching to a bit too short, numbers will be around for other reasons quite a while. Rich Shockey is giving in his presentations a bunch of other reasons. Also insisting as provider or manufacturer on something your customers do not really want is not productive.
But the last sentence is very interesting: "This means you should not subscribe to additional virtual numbers, because this will take away the economical motivation to get VoIP" - but in a different sense. This comes back the full circle to my previous arguments:
Providing virtual VoIP services just as PSTN replacement is NOT the future business. But the real gold nugget in Answath's article is the following statement:
How come a Nethead turns into a Bellhead when placed in the “voice” environment?
This is the best statement I have heard in the last weeks (and I have heard many, being at the VON), because it explains an issue I was wondering recently:
How come that virtual VoIP Service providers (I considered them netheads up to now) start begging for regulation?
Answer: because they got infected and started to turn into Bellheads. Especially the European VoIP services providers lead by ITSPA and heavily supported by ECTA are fighting to keep the incumbents out of the VoIP game by declaring VoIP to be just another technology for the old PSTN voice service (= the incuments have also significant market power there) and therefore also the related remedies (e.g. they are not allowed to bundle their services).
In addition they are getting greedy, because they finally got the message of the advantages of interconnect (= getting termination charges), which is working only with numbers. They are starting to dislike public URIs and ENUM, because for ENUM you need an URI to point to, and start to get attracted by DUNDi, GNUP and other closed Carrier "ENUM" solutions.
This is IMHO a big mistake for two reasons:
1. VoIP as PSTN replacement in a shrinking market is not the communication of the future, it is convergence, as I already stated:
-convergence in the access: triple play
-convergence at the customers device: OnePhone
-convergence at the service and application level: Office 2003, LCS 2005 and Istanbul
So they should try to get their money in providing really innovative services and not mimic the old PSTN services.
2. The real battle is anyway going on somewhere else. These little providers are only taken hostage by ETCA to support lobbying in the battle between the incumbent telcos and the incumbent cable operators and the battleground is triple play.
In most countries the cable operators are not considered (like the incument telcos) to have SMP, so they do not need to provide bit-stream unbundling, ULL and may bundle TV, Internet Access and Voice Services without any remidies and they want to keep it that way.
Simon Hampton, Chair ECTA Broadband Group last week in Brussels wanted remedies for
telco incumbents for (some statements):
-Bundling of bitstream and PSTN subscription
-Quitting PSTN subscription is a pre-requisite for number portability
-“Unbundled” / ”Naked” bitstream needed
-Bundling PSTN access and calls
-Bundles of call minutes could be disguised predation
-Retail regulation may be necessary
And of course the best one: VoIP is a fixed-line substitute, whereas mobile is a complement.
Now this is a nice one, considering the recent developments in GSM/WiFi convergence.
Guess the real affiliation from Simon Hampton: Time/Warner ;-)
Just dropped over this webpage: Voice over IP
Tom Keating had a very extensive article on ENUM ENUM ENUM! an his blog on Wednesday.
He also had an entry yesterday about GoDaddy and ENUM, informative for all wondering (especially in Europe) what the hell GoDaddy.com is doing among AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and MCI listed on the press release on ENUM +1.
Friday, October 29, 2004
Richard Shockey just distributed the following press release via the IETF ENUM mailing list:
For Immediate Release: Media Contact: Jackie Henson McKenna Long and Aldridge LLP 202-496-7549 firstname.lastname@example.org
TOP TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INTERNET COMPANIES FORM COUNTRY CODE 1 ENUM LLC TO FOSTER NEW INTERNET TELECOM TECHNOLOGY New Organization to Promote Development of Technology to Combine Internet with Traditional Telephony to Offer Streamlined Communication
Washington DC - (October 28, 2004) - Today, several leading telecommunications and Internet companies have announced the formation of a new organization, the Country Code 1 ENUM Limited Liability Company (CC1 ENUM LLC), to build the public infrastructure that will promote the development of ENUM technology in a single, carrier-class manner within the countries of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). The countries of the NANP include the United States, Canada and the Caribbean nations.
ENUM is a technology that allows users to combine the resources of the Internet with traditional telephony, uniting these two diverse worlds of communications and enabling a whole new range of communication applications. The ENUM system effectively enables individuals, businesses and other organizations to maximize the use of both the public Internet and the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) by associating telephone numbers with Internet domain names. As a result, phone numbers can be used to send traditional telephony services like voice calls or faxes which can be converted to digital packets for delivery to a variety of devices.
A common ENUM system becomes increasingly essential as applications like voice over IP (VoIP) become more widely adopted. The ENUM system bridges the technology gap between the public Internet and the Public Switched Telephone Network so that VoIP users of different service providers can communicate more simply with each other.
Through the launch of this new organization, the founding companies are seeking to build a commercial implementation consistent with the relevant open standards of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) upon which ENUM is based. The new company will help to implement a single, public ENUM system for those nations within the NANP that choose to participate. It is intended that the North American implementation of ENUM will adhere to national and industry privacy requirements. The LLC’s first task will involve selection of a vendor to take the initial steps towards creation of an infrastructure that would enable the countries within the NANP to establish their own national ENUM implementations. The limited liability company will also be responsible for selecting a vendor to develop the national infrastructure for the United States.
Country Code 1 ENUM LLC will manage the public infrastructure that translates traditional telephone numbers into Internet domain names, combining the reach and capabilities of the Internet with the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to enable new communications capabilities. CC1 ENUM LLC members include AT&T, GoDaddy.com, MCI, SBC Laboratories, Sprint, and Verizon.
James Enck (in my opinion the best blogger on IP Communications this side of the pond) pointed to a very interesting article in the Financial Times today re Lex: France Telecom and the buyout of Wanadoo minorities.
The FT stated: "We may learn wisdom by three methods, Confucius taught. First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. France Telecom and its shareholders have experienced the last one. But after two years at the helm, Thierry Breton can claim his thoughtful efforts are starting to pay off. Trends at Orange UK are encouraging. So are developments in France, where its fixed-line market share is showing signs of stabilising. Crucially, new services are emerging as the key weapons in the battle for customers, in line with France Telecom's strategy of bundling its broadband, fixed-line and mobile offerings.
It is no wonder that Deutsche Telekom is following France Telecom's example in buying back its internet subsidiary. But imitating the French will not be easy, and not only because of regulatory differences. When France Telecom brought Wanadoo back into the fold, it almost looked like a reverse takeover, with the “young(ish) Turks” from the internet and mobile businesses securing key positions. That helped turn France Telecom into a more customer-focused company."
James points in addition to today's announcement of Swisscom regarding the re-integration of its ISP, Bluewin, into the Fixnet division.
And adds: "We have always felt (see EuroTelcorama No. 5) that many of the telcos would try to adapt in the best way they could (clumsily), but would face many challenges and ugly choices, and would inevitably end up as companies with significantly smaller top lines and dramatically smaller workforces. It's interesting to see some of the European telcos circling the IP wagons relatively early, admitting that their ISP teams actually hold the key to the future, not just the key to cashing in on IPO mania back in 1999/2000 (as FT and DT did fairly unsuccessfully).
The transformational pains are going to be considerable, and the pressure to act is mounting, in our view. Yesterday France Telecom owned up to the fact that VoIP is taking a visible bite out of its French voice traffic, but as DSL unbundlers grow more aggressive in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, we will see similar messages from others within a few quarters."
And he finally refers to Om Malik's assessment of the recent AT&T and MCI asset write-offs to see where the asset sides of Eurotelco balance sheets are headed in the next couple of years.
I would like to come back to the FT statement from above: "Crucially, new services are emerging as the key weapons in the battle for customers, in line with France Telecom's strategy of bundling its broadband, fixed-line and mobile offerings."
This was also one major issue in the discussions this week in Brussels on Telecoms Regulation and Competition Law and also related to the discussions I had at the VON with Eli Katz from ITSPA, UK and also Thilo Salmon from sipgate.de:
The new VoIP service providers and especially the participants from ECTA, the new-entrants lobby took in the discussion: "Is VoIP a new innovative service and therefore should be regulated with a light touch?" a very interesting position: on one side they argued that the obligations especially for new entrants should be non-discriminating (e.g. regarding numbering)and also that VoIP should not be treated as PATS with all its obligations, but on the other hand it is just a voice service with another technology (now I begin to understand the UK term VoB).
I first was a bit confused, but considering that I was at a conference dealing with the EU speciality of market definition, signifikant market power (SMP) and remedies, I finally understood:
If VoB ist just a voice service with another technology, it belongs into the voice market = the incumbents having SMP in the voice market have automatically also SMP in the VoIP market = the same remedies apply, such as wholesale offers and most important: incumbents providing broadband access should not be allowed to offer bundles with broadband and VoIP. See also the dicussions going on in Canada (Jeff reported).
I asked Sandra Keegan, sector head in the ISOC-DG of the European Commission if she supports this view and she said no, VoIP is an innovative service, it falls in none of the existing markets and therefore no SMP and remedies exist. On the other hand, the ECTA lobby is veryactive and noisy.
I already stated in my reports from the VON that I consider the current target market of PSTN-replacement most VoIP service providers tackle today as stillborn. It is nearly impossible to expand in a shrinking market with already non-existing margins. The future is the c-word:
convergence in the access: triple play
convergence at the customers device: OnePhone
convergence at the service and application level: Office 2003, LCS 2005 and Istanbul
So the main target of the new-entrants (how long is a new-entrant new?) is to block of the competition of the incuments in this theatre from the beginning.
I cannot follow the arguments of ECTA for another reason. If one considers voice just as another service and application on the Internet (that is, put it in it's proper place), it is true that you will get automatically a VoIP account with your broadband access subscription, just as you get an e-mail account, a domain name and some MB of webspace. So what? Many people I know of do not use this offer anyway or only in addition, they use the company e-mail as their main account, they have their own domain-name, etc.
The same will happen with such VoIP accounts: people will use the company accounts also from hame, because they are integrated in their company office system and provide them with OnePhone capabilities, or they will other accounts providing value-added-services, and they will forward one account on the other.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
The IHT had an interesting acticle today on In Internet phone calls, broadband's 'killer application'
By Chris Oakes International Herald Tribune
PARIS If you happen to live in France, or have visited the country recently, a current promotion may well have caught your attention. Free, one of the country's biggest Internet service providers, has been offering consumers extra fast Internet access, along with a cable-like package of TV channels.
But Free, a subsidiary of France's Iliad Group, has thrown in one especially striking addition: unlimited free telephone calls throughout France. To start un-metered domestic dialing, the customer plugs a standard telephone into the "Freebox" that comes with the service.
The flat-rate price for the entire "triple play" package - delivered via the service's single DSL, or digital subscriber line, connection - is €29.99, or about $38, per month.
"It's actually the killer app, voice," said Jean Pierre Oliva, managing director of Jipo, a telecommunications consultancy based in Brussels, referring to the voice option's potential to fuel the spread of broadband Internet.
"I think the whole landscape will look completely different when we have completely IP infrastructure," said Julian Hewett, an analyst at the London-based consultancy Ovum. "Any service you'll buy will come with voice as standard part of it."
A smattering of providers follow the popular model popularized by the U.S. company Vonage - including Gossiptel in Britain, and Sipgate in Britain and Germany. Rather than providing Internet access themselves, these companies piggyback their voice services through customers' existing Internet connection. A VoIP adapter box, plugged into a broadband cable or DSL modem, hooks up to a standard telephone for voice calls.
The most popular of these services is Skype, which recently said it had recorded 1 million simultaneous users worldwide.
The 28 million downloads of its software - over 14 months of existence - represent more than 12.9 million users from all countries, Skype says. Similar to the pricing of services like Sipgate, calls between Skype users are free, while rates to make calls to regular phone numbers in countries around the world are typically offered at a significant discount to standard fixed-line rates, similar to the Sipgate pricing structure.
Nor are Skype users bound to their PCs: Skype makes a version of it software that runs on handheld devices that run Microsoft's Pocket PC program.
In this configuration, a PDA capable of making a wireless connection to the Internet via wi-fi makes for a more portable version of Skype for users on the go. And the German telecom equipment maker Siemens recently introduced a device that beams Skype calls to a cordless household telephone.
At a wholly different level of service, a handful of companies around Europe are circumventing traditional telephone networks altogether, and delivering voice and other services through their own high-bandwidth, fiber-optic connections in limited metropolitan areas.
For example, FastWeb, a subsidiary of e.Biscom of Italy, offers Internet, voice calls and video over one line for about €80 a month. The company's high-speed fiber provides enough bandwidth for the future addition of video-on-demand and similar high-bandwidth media delivery.
Pitching services to businesses may be the most profitable area for specialty VoIP service providers. Consulting and networking companies such as Cable & Wireless in Britain provide Internet Protocol voice service for workplace communications. VoIP is just one of a suite of services used for providing a digital conduit for all of a company's communications - from "virtual private networks," or VPNs to teleconferencing.
Analysts say France is in the lead in part to aggressive moves by the country's telecom regulator, ART, which designed rules that led the incumbent France Telecom to rapidly "unbundle" its network for use by third-party competitors.
In five years, Juniper Research predicts VoIP services will account for €26.5 billion, or 12 percent of global telephony revenues.
In the meantime, even those whom VoIP is supposed to challenge are making nice with the technology, at least for now - saying it's an essential ingredient they have no choice but to embrace.
"We have the vision - connect your world completely," said Andrew Burke director value added services for BT. "You can't take that vision forward without VoIP."
Monday, October 25, 2004
Daiwa EuroTelcoblog No. 83: Monday, 25th October, 2004 - Moshi-moshi Japan, Skype calling
Skype was obviously holding back some bullets until after the VON event last week. Yesterday, we had the TOM.com announcement in China, and now today, Skype has just announced a partnership with Livedoor (TSE 4753) to deliver a co-branded Skype to the Japanese market. As we pointed out earlier this morning, Japan appears underpenetrated in terms of Skype users versus some other markets. If this partnership delivers similar results to the Taiwan partnership, Skype user numbers should accelerate significantly. Of particular interest tomorrow will be what sort of share price reaction Livedoor sees to the news. The stock has underperformed TOPIX by 22% year-to-date, so the "Skype magic," if any, should be evident on the public markets for the first time. Press release is here:
The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA) has drawn to a close with a plan for future global standards-setting and a clear statement about the direction of the future work of ITU-T. Internet-related issues and next generation networks emerged as key areas. 475 delegates from 75 countries participated.
The WTSA Special gives a good overview on the issues dealt with:
Assembly outlines future global standards-setting
New Study Group on next generation networks
Internet related issues
Greater involvement of developing countries in standardization activities
Structure of the sector and priorities of the work programme
Related to VoIP and ENUM, the following topics are of prime interest:
New Study Group on next generation networks
Next generation networks represent the future evolution of current fixed and mobile networks. The fundamental difference between NGN and today’s network is the switch from current ‘circuit-switched’ networks to ‘packet-based’ systems such as those using Internet Protocol (IP). NGN is expected to give fixed-line and mobile users completely seamless communication and to offer unrestricted access by users to different service providers in a multi-service, multi-protocol, multi-vendor environment. The need for global standards for NGN is therefore critical as most operators expect to move to an IP infrastructure.
Against this background, WTSA decided to create a new study group for NGN. In addition to taking over the tasks foreseen for the former Study Group 13, the new study group will deal with all questions relating to architecture and frameworks for NGN. It will also decide on the future of the Focus Group that had been established prior to WTSA-04. Focus groups are set up to augment the study group work programme by providing an alternative working environment for the quick development of specifications in their chosen areas.
The signalling requirements for NGN will be developed by the new study group in conjunction with Study Group 11 (signalling). Coordination of all NGN-related activities in other study groups will also be the responsibility of the new NGN study group. To this end, other study groups will develop detailed Recommendations based on the requirements expressed by the NGN study group. The new study group will be assisted in its work by a joint coordination mechanism set up to coordinate core NGN studies in the area of mobility, signalling, naming, numbering, addressing and routing.
The first meeting of the new Study Group (13) will take place from 7 to 17 December this year.
Naming, numbering, addressing, routing and identification resources
The rapidly increasing use of mobile networks and the proliferation of services beyond traditional voice telephony require a separation of user identity from terminal identity and from geographic location, while not compromising global interconnectivity. With the anticipated development of new networks — or next generation networks — and their associated capabilities, it will be necessary to address new telecommunication services which will require unique numbering, naming and addressing capabilities. These capabilities have the potential to be significantly different from those applicable to currently deployed (legacy) networks, yet it is essential that they interwork fully with this legacy environment in order to allow any user to identify and reach any other user wherever they are in the world.
To this end, the work programme of Study Group 2, responsible for the operational aspects of service provision, networks and performance, will also examine naming, numbering, addressing and routing (NNAR) for NGN.
In addition, the Assembly revised a resolution on the allocation of international telecommunication numbering, naming, addressing and identification codes such as country codes, signalling area and network codes, data country codes, mobile country codes, etc. Based on the recognition that it is in the best interests of ITU members to build and maintain confidence in the use of telecom services, the text reaffirms the responsibility of ITU in this area and underlines the general principles governing the assignment, reassignment or reclamation of such international resources. It also asks study groups to provide advice and guidance on such issues, particularly in cases of complaints about misuses of an international numbering resource.
Considering the work carried out by ITU-T on electronic numbering (ENUM) and remaining unresolved issues, WTSA tasked Study Group 2 to examine how ITU could have administrative control over changes relating to international telecommunication resources including naming, numbering, addressing and routing used for ENUM.
ENUM is an Internet telephone number mapping protocol. Under the proposed ENUM protocol, and subject to national authorities and end-user approval, it will be possible for consumers to use a single number to access many types of terminals and services, such as phone, fax, e-mail, pager, mobile phones, websites or any other services available through an Internet addressing scheme, at home, at work or while roaming.
Country Code Top Level Domain Names
Given that there are still issues that need to be addressed relating to the delegation of country code top level domains (ccTLD) to entities designated by national authorities, a new resolution was adopted, instructing ITU-T Study Group 2 to work with governments and industry to review Member States’ ccTLD experiences.
I will be the next 3 days in Brussels visiting the
Conference on Telecoms Regulation & Competition. I will also speak there on
28 October 2004 - Executive Briefing Day - Exploring the Latest Regulatory Thinking on VoIP about ENUM and VoIP.
The optimum is of course free WiFi access as it is on the Vienna International Airport - but basically I have no problem to pay a certain amount. The question is only:
How much is one willing to pay and what is the limit where you start to think they consider you an idiot.
At Logan Airport in Boston they want $8 per day for WiFi access - who the hell is staying a full 24 hours on Logan Airport?
So in Frankfurt they are more thoughtfull - they offer half an hour and two hours access. The problem is only: they want 6 Euro for the half hour, which I consider a rip-off.
Result: they do not get ANY money from me. Period. Nice Business Model.
A very good write up was flagged by Jeff Pulver. Andy Oram attended Fall 2004 VON last week and published this report to the O'Reilly Network.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
As also stated at the Fall VON 2004 in Boston from many sides, home phones face uncertain future.
BBC NEWS | Technology | Home phones face uncertain future
Few people know how mobile and fixed line costs compared
The fixed line phone in your home could soon be an endangered species.
Research by handset maker Nokia shows that more and more people are using their mobile phone for every call they make or take.
The Nokia-sponsored research showed that mobiles and fixed phones were used for different purposes. According to the study, more than 45 million people in the UK, Germany, US and South Korea now only use a mobile.
It showed that people keep their fixed line phone because call charges are lower, but most of those questioned said the future was definitely mobile.
Tim Higgins: Fall VON 2004 Report
Computer Reseller News: Microsoft, Radvision Hype VoIP, Convergence At VON
Mobile Pipeline: FCC's Powell Calls For 'Revolution' In Telecom Regulation
Mobile Pipeline: Sununu Calls For New Telecom Bill In 2005
The Boston Herald: FCC's Powell picking his fights: People, not pols, should regulate decency, he says
internetnews.com: FCC Mulls November VoIP Vote
Friday, October 22, 2004
Since it was getting very late yesterday, this day started for me not so early, I was a bit late for Brough Turners (Sr. VP & CTO NMS Communications) Industry perspective on Accelerating the VoIP Disruption, I only saw the last slides, but I am already awaiting the download.
I changed over to the Enterprise Forum on The New IP Centrex, featuring a huge panel moderated by Carl with many different perspectives from ShoreTel, Natural Convergence, Sylantro Systems, Kagoor Networks, SBC Labs, Voxpath Network and BroadSoft.
Then I had to check my e-mails and had some chats, before the Keynote from Mark Spencer from Digium/Asterisk started. I was a bit early in the room and found out that I missed another interesting presentation from a Navy Guy from NMCI - the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. If plans by officials at the Navy and EDS work out, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet could soon become one of the largest systems using voice-over-IP technology in the world. They have targeted roughly 350,000 potential voice-over-IP users. That would make NMCI one of the biggest enterprise voice-over-IP deployments in the world.
So I googled a bit and found the following very detailed article: Voice over IP coming to NMCI - Navy network one of the biggest deployments of the technology.
Mark Spencer made his long awaited and alredy discussed presentation on the Distributed Universal Number Discovery (DUNDi). DUNDi is a peer to peer system for locating Internet gateways to telephony services. Unlike traditional hierarchical services such as ENUM, DUNDi is a distributed sysem with no centralized authority. An implementation of DUNDi exists in Asterisk, an Open Source PBX. For further information, see:
DUNDi Core Members
General Peering Agreement
DUNDi Internet Draft (not yet submitted)
DUNDi Best Practices
DUNDi Press Release
DUNDi Mailing List
More information can be found in a related article from the people at Voxilla.
Note: Links copied from the ITU-T website ;-)
I have not looked yet at DUNDi in detail, but as far as I can see it is not a replacement for (public) ENUM in e164.arpa, it is more part of the Carrier or Infrastructure ENUM scenarios, specifically of the shared datebase scenarios (see also my presentattion below). So it can co-exist definetely with (public) ENUM and also with Carrier ENUM. Because there may be problems with scalability, it cannot replace a global ENUM system, but it will allow efficient peering between con-federations of companies and also smaller providers. Depending on environment, a server may easily first query DUNDi and then either (public) ENUM or Carrier ENUM.
Very interesting was also the following dicussion, which gave me a slight time-warp feeling because I thought I was already 3 weeks ahead in time in Washington at the IETF. Jon Peterson, Rich Shockey, Cullen Jennings and I where lining up at the open mike of Carl. Cullen as IPTEL chair brought up the issue DUNDi vs. TRIP, because DUNDi is really more similar to TRIP then to ENUM.
I then went for lunch with Alex from Sentiro, the only company currently providing global Universal Personal Numbers, see my previous post. Sentiro are leading the way in the provision of Internet telephony and unified communications services. For more information visit http://www.sentiro.com/ and http://www.enum2go.com
Since lunch and interesting chats are always taking longer then expected, I was again a bit late for the Session on Clearing and Peering, so I missed part of the presentation from Jim Dalton, CEO, Transnexus, but I bet he presented the Open Settlement Protocol (OSP).
Next was Steve Heap, VP from Arbinet. His presentation was already discussed on the VoIP Peering list. He discussed the various possibilities and gave a very good overview. I had the impression that in most cases where settlement is involved the settlement cost more effort then the pure call transport, so you pay primarily for getting billed.
Tom Kershaw, VP Voice Services from Verisign stated clearly that clearing and settlement is history and Peering is the future (and I can only agree). He also tried to bring ENUM in the picture, albeit sowhat critical. This was already a peek preview on his presentation two hours later at the ENUM Update Panel.
The ENUM Update Panel was the last session of the day and the confernence. The panel, moderated by Michael Haberler started with Rich Shockey, Neustar and IETF ENUM WG Chair. There was the assumption made that after four years everybody in the room knew already about ENUM and about the basics, so Rich just gave an introduction on the current status and the positioning of (public) ENUM vs. Carrier ENUM. His presentation can be downloaded from here.
I followed with my presentation on "The Internet, the NGN and ENUM", where a gave a more detailed view on the differences of (public) ENUM and Carrier ENUM and some example scenarios involving the PSTN, the Internet and the NGN in a walled garden, and the problems related to this approach.
Michael Haberler presented the status of ENUM in Austria and the IP Communications logistics support for +43. Austria will launch commercial service within weeks for geographic, mobile, private network, freephone and two non-geographic number ranges, one general vor VoIP and one specific for ENUM. The numbering ordinance (KEM-V) and the contract between the Regulator as 3.4.e164.arpa domain name holder and enum.at are in place. enum.at, a sister company of nic.at (the ccTLD registry) will provide the Tier 1 Registry function and is currently setting up the infrastructure and also the required documentation and training for the Registrars and Validation Entities. The related documents can be found at or via the www.enum.at webpage, additional information can be retrieved from the trial site enum.nic.at
Doug Rannalli, Founder of Netnumber presented his view on carrier ENUM, the use cases and the Netnumber portfolio. Sorry his presentation is not availble yet.
Finally Tom Kershaw gave a very critical view on (public) ENUM, mainly stating that either the opt-in model should be removed from (public) ENUM, or Carrier or Infrastructure ENUM will take over. The view is very extreme, IMHO (public) ENUM may co-exist, and in principle the ENUM-enable (or ENUM-only) numbers such as +43 780, or the UPT Number +87810 are Infrastucture Numbers. In addition, green-field operators may provide customers with new number ranges combined with opt-in at subscription time.
On the other hand I have to agree that endless trials, political games and slow movement (if at all) from regulators regarding the ENUM deployment have a potential to finally kill (public) ENUM.
This closed this session and the VON.
As a resumee I can say that this VON was really THE event of this year in VOIP and IP Communications, and it will take weeks to digest and recover and I am already looking forward to the next VON in Spring. Congratulations to Jeff Pulver and his team.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
This day was again starting early: 8:30 am
Ibecause I did not want to miss the breakout session on "Roaming between WiFi and GSM Networks"
The reason is that I consider always-on access to the Internet from personal devices as the most important item in future telecommunications both for business and private customers. The success of mobile phones all over the wolrd is a strong indication. If you add on top of this the success of WiFi and add the two things together, merge SMS/MMS and IM, take the contact list from mobile phones sync'd with Outlook and improved by presence, add in addition GPS and location based services, and eventually smart-cards, SIM-cards, USIMs and RFID, you have some idea of the future of the enduser device. Just look what the kids (the smart-mobs) are doing.
Of course users, especially women, will have more then one device, because it will be not fashionable to go with your sub-notebook or PDA to a dinner date, you will wear instead a small geeky Japanese designer mobile phone or even a wearablle comm device, but the complete profile will be transfered easily with a combined smart-card holding your identity and a 1 GB SD-card holding your important data (the rest of your private 1TB will be accessible via the Internet anyway, just in case)
Gary Tauss, CEO from Longboard, having already implemented the first services and devices in Japan (Onephone), pointed out the key issues:
One number (sounds familiar for me) is one service across all networks, even a call is not interrrupted if you cross networks.
It starts with the now emerging dual-mode handsets (WiFi and GPRS) and is providing IP centrex functionality, because the first adoptors are enterprises using GSM out-doors and WiFI within the company.
One basic trick for seamless service integration is the usage of SIP signalling also over GSM GPRS.
He also has a business model in place to recover the minute loss on WiFi, it is simply a fixed monthly service fee.
The service will give another blow to the current regulatory structure with cross subsidies, and different fixed and mobile termination charges, because it will the consumers choice if he selects the mobile or the fixed number as his one number to get the same service.
Steve Blumenthal, Sr VP, Bridgeport added to this the emerging standards UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) to GSM and GPRS mobile services over unlicensed spectrum technologies (I am sure that WiMAX will also be included), including Bluetooth and 802.11.
By deplaying UMA technology, service providers can enable subscribers to roam and handover between cellular networks and wireless networks. He also mentioned 3GPP and IMS and TISPAN IMS for fixed networks (this was BTW the first time that IMS was mentioned at the VON - also interesting)
After this first morning session my problem started and this is really my only complaint about the VON:
It is getting too big and less would be more.
One one side you have the excellent presentations and you have to miss some of them anyway because of parallel sessions, various side meetings because you meet everybody here. But there is in addition the biggest exhibition ever and you have at least make one round.
Some people also agreed with me that the opening hours (although extended on monday this time) should be extended until 8pm.
So I decided to make my round and it took me 4 hours. The next problem was taht after the 4 hours I was so exhausted that I could not stand physically and mentally tt visit the rest of the afternoon sessions - and the e-mails need also to be checked.
And one needs to recover for the Conference Party ;-)
Regarding the exhibition in detail, this is the next problem. You can only talk in detail to a certain amount of people, the rest is grabbing of flyers.
Here another side remark: many companies present products without any documentation, not even a flyer and if you ask, if some information is available at least at the webpage, you sometimes get the answer: no, only in (ranging from two weeks to half a year). I understand this e.g. with small companies showing off a hardware prototype, but I do not understand this with large companies showing a (nice) IP centrex solution and and have no documentation and also telling me that the service will be available in half a year.
The problem here is that after 200 stands you have no idea what company told you what.
My general expression: IP phones, terminal adapters in all variants, home gateways with FXO, FXS, with and without routers, ADSL modems, WiFI etc. are exploding. This is continuing upwards to SoHO equipment, SME equipment, gateways for large companies up to carrier gateways, including gadgets (devices nobody really needs, but is willing to spend money on - e.g. session border controller, etc).
Every company originally starting on one end or with one product seems to expand to provide the full range.
It is interesting that now also DECT phones with SIP basestations (TA) are showing up, the battery life of WiFI is still a serious problem.
Video telephone is mainly availble as addition to softpones (product names mainly starting with eye whatever - video seems not to be fashionable), but also some hardphones can be seen.
The most fashionable (and expensive) piece is definitely the Ojo from Motorola, with a cordless handset, the design could be from B&O. It will be out on Thanksgiving, just in time for Xmas -; e.g as present from Bill Gates to his wife and his mother-in-law.
Since it is not SIP, you have to by in addition a monthly service to interoperate with the rest of the world to make normal phone calls.
I was also interested in integrated solutions for providers and enterprises, e.g. the LCS and related products from MS, Openscape, IP Centrex solutions interworking with Outlook, etc. but this is another story.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Beside the VON still some VoIP and ENUM related things happen:
Sentiro, the UK based VoIP specialists announced today it would be the first global service provider to deliver termination from the PSTN to Universal Personal Telephone Numbers incorporating ENUM.
(PRWEB) October 20, 2004 -- This allows the delivery, globally, of not only traditional voice services but also electronic services such as email, web, SMS/MMS, IM, and location-based services.
For more information see the PRESS RELEASE: Sentiro Delivers commercial Termination from PSTN to UPT Numbers Based on ENUM
A transcription of the keynote speech held by Michael Powell at the VON is already available at the FCC webpage.
Some comments are also available:
CRN Powell Calls For 'Revolution' In Telecom Regulation
internetnews.com Powell Calls for Federal VoIP Rule
This day started as usual with Jeff giving his early morning speech, announcing more then 5000 participants and more then 200 Exhibitors.
He stated that VoIP is nowadays a fashion statement, but this can be risky if VoIP is not fashionable anymore. So VoIP is on crossroads between reality and hype.
VoIP is really Everthing over IP, this is not your fathers telephone, it is IP communications.
Side remark: some VoIP service providers seem a bit hypnotized by the incument snake and consider themselves mainly in competion with Landline replacement, which is not wise in two aspects: on one they are trying to get market share in a shrinking market and on the other side they miss the WiFI and WiMax opportunities of EoIP. The real competition is the mobile operators and they should really provide the new "portable" Internet (see ITU-Report 2004). They also seem to miss the IM and presence side of SIP. I am tempted to call them VoIP Bellheads.
Jeff also asked what if CB happened today?
the wireless carriers whould scream foul.
He also announced somewhat mysteriously a new Pulver Petition II, addressing with numbering, without saying much more. Could it be a revival of personal area code 500? This is definitely an unused resource lying around and would fit nicely as VoIP number popping up now everywhere (recently in after Japan, Austria, UK, Korea in Germany and Ireland).
After Jeff the long awaited speech from Michael Powell, FCC Chair took place. After some nice introductory words to the audience:
"I am proud to stand in front of you, you are bringing the revolution
army on the march, etc.", he said that Voip has made fire under a depressed industry and it mportant for the government to nurture and not to nudge it. VoIP is bringing important and powerful developments like wifi PDAs, etc., ipods, ... and bringing greater value to individuals and communities. Great innovation is possible,
a promise for the communications industry
He will make sure that a willing provider is always reaching a willing consumer, finally resting the falread mentioned four points internet freedom
abusive market power by vertically oriented providers
There is need of a new constitution for VoIP and this is most important and far reaching for the FCC, and can be expected next year.
The aim is exclusive federal jurisdiction for VoIP issues (applause)
VoIP: give it liberty (more applause from the audience)
I already asked Jeffrey Carlisle in the Town Hall Meeting why stop with federal jurisdiction, the Internet is global, so I was happy to hear finally from Michael Powell that the FCC will also try to ensure a minimal international jurisdiction. This was new.
In the Q&A following I put down the following notes:
-Proof for intervention lies with the goverment and not with the entrepreneur
-carrier interconnection broke long ago, it is a distortion, it has nothing to do with VoIP, its becoming arbitrary, incomprehensible
-I am tired about hearing about Korea and Japan ;-)
-For providing bottlenecks a big warning planned
-Jonathan Rosenberg: what about CALEA and LI
-first priority for the government is to protect citizens, this not an economic issue
Next came Charles Giancario, Sr. VP and CTO, Cisco on "VoIP, the consumer and the NGN"
He said that up to now we looked at the NGN from inside out, basically what we will build will define what service you get, this is wrong, consumers and business customers will now drive carrier network infrastructure decisions and drive the NGN.
Cathy Martine, Sr VP, ATT
VoIP ... the evolution continues
Gave her usual presentation, interesting but nothing exceptional.
Sir Terry Mathews, Chair of Newport/Mitel Networks gave a very intersting and eceptional speech "which really laid things bare. He talked about the death of the (networked) canal industry in the face of orders-of-magnitude improvements offered by railways — and reminded people that cost improvements of the same magnitude had occured in fiber, silicon and storage in the space of half a decade." (citation from Telepocalypse).
Anoop Gupta, Corporate VP, Real-Time Collaboraion Business Unit
made after some introductory word in principle the product announcements:
the Life Communications Server 2005
Live Meeting, providing hosted services for web conferencing and integation of real-time communication in all office applications
and as of today
"Istanbul" - the codename for the new MS Messenger to be available for Beta test now.
After lunch I visited the Global IP Alliance dicussion with Jonathan Askin. The Alliance is IMHO still searching for fokus, scope and even name (VON International?), not much progress was made
After this I had some talks on the side with Thilo Salmon (sipgate.de) and Eli Katz (T-Strategy and ITSPA UK) on the European direction regarding regulatiry issues and how to align these with the US regulation. We also discussed our naturally different view points on VoIP from incumbent side and virtual VoIP service provider side.
So the only afternoon session I made was the break-out session on "IAX2: the next SIP"
Brad Templeton, Chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation provided a very critical view current VoIP applications and escpecially SIP, Mark Spencer compared SIP and IAX, proving that IAX2 is superior in many respects (from his point of view).
The day ended in a big dinner at Kingfish arranged by Timothy Jasionowsky with Rich Shockey, Willi Wimmreuter, Thilo Salmon, Scott Petrack, Cullen Jennings, Igor Brusic (OeFEG), Frank Ohrtmann (Softwitch Consulting), John Todd, Jon Petersen, Jiri Kuthan, Michael Haberler et al.
The VON already started on Day -1 with the usual and already famous Town Hall Meeting from Dr.Pepper (Chief of Policy Development, FCC), this time coequally supported by Jeffrey Carlisle (Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau).
There was a very lively discussion on the current issues in US regulation, especially on the famous 4 Internet freedoms stated by Chair Michael Powell at the University in Colorado in February, and also on the intention to make all regulation regarding VoIP interstate (that is: an FCC) issue. The discussion was really a peek preview of the Keynotes from Sen. Sununu on Monday and of Michael Powell himself on Tuesday.
On Monday, the preconference Workshops took place and I had really a problem where to go. Since my collegue attended the WiFI Summit, I went to the 2004 Landline Summit and therefore missed the excellent (by hearsay) US Telecom Policy Summit. An the other hand, the Landline Forum had also a session on the regulators perspective again with Robert Pepper, Jeffrey Carlisle and Thomas Navin (Chief Competition Policy Division, FCC), so I am quite sure I got the important messages and missed nothing important.
The meeting started with Maribel Lopez (Forrester Research) giving a look at the next generation consumer, which will in essence be connected, nomadic and asynchronous. There will be invisible mobile end-points out there (e.g. in cars, lots of storage (in iPods, TiVO etc), presence and mobile messaging will play an important role.
It continued with two presentations from Kathy Brown (Verizon) and Joe Glynn (Qwest) on the impact on the Incumbents and to put it short, it will be heavy. The conclusion of Kathy Brown was that the world has changed, but Verizon is embracing the change (good luck), regulations are not in sync with new realities (how true) and national framework for broadband and applications is needed (will be done, see below Sen. Sununu and Chair Michael Powell).
the session continued with three different views on Broadband Voice from Verizon, Net2Phone and Time Warner Telecom and closed with smart devices on a stupid network, or better a non-stupid, but application agnostic network.
Then the first highlight of the show happened: Sen. Sununu's Keynote
Sununu considers himself from his background as an engineer, therefore as an one-eyed king in the land of blind (in Washington ;-)
Regarding the new telecom bill he said that we need to get the framework right, to provide a stable (national) environment for entrepreneurs. Basically unified standards and a light regulatory touch, because we cannot predict where this technology will go. Main aim of the bill is to consider all Internet-based communication as interstate and FCC issue - this statement was heavily acclaimed by the audience. The telecom bill is to be expected in 2005.
At 6pm the Exhibition opened with the Welcome Reception, but I did not get very far, because after saying hello to Alan Duric and Espen Fogstad from Telio and grabbing a glas of red wine I fell over Willi Wimmreuter, ROTFL in front of the Juniper booth and handing me out a deck of cards from Juniper featuring on each card a joke about CISCO - nice start of the show ;-)
Next was the FWD booth with Ed Guy eager to show me the new pulver.communicator and the Blue Lava VoIP PBX in a Box - which is simply an Asterix and a Linux PC preconfigured with FXO ports: simply Asterisk for Idiots.
Then I passed the Intertex booth. I was sorry that Karl stahl was not here, but his colleauges assured me that he is still awake back home developing and they showed me their new baby, the SIP switch, fitting in the well know box of the IX66.
So the first two SIP server I saw are both ENUM-enabled, a good start. I finally made it to the Microsoft booth to get some info in the new Life Communication Server 2005 to be release soon and we are planning to test at home. The good message was, it may now (different from the LCS 2003) communicate with any other SIP-server, the bad message: this is true, but only if it is also an LCS.
Peek preview of day 2: I cornered Anoop Gupta himself after his presentation with Marc sanders on his side and they told me that this is not true - ok, we will see.
Since we plan to use LCS with Openscape, I moved one booth further to Siemens, just to run into Rich Shockey, our esteemed ENUM Chair, Michael Haberler, John Horrocks and Mark Spencer, who was telling everybody who wanted to know (or not) about DUNDi, the Distributed Universal Number Discovery and the General Peering Agreement (GPA).
I must say that I still do not understand DUNDi completely, but maybe after reading the documentation on www.dundi.com and after Marks presentation on Thursday I will see hopefully further
As far as I can say now it could even co-exist with ENUM and Rich said that it could be a nice solution for enterprises, but one problem will be the scalability. But Mark should submit his draft to ENUm WG
Finally also Henry Sinnreich showed up (he always wants to pass every booth at the first day and run into trouble this time because of the size of the Exhibit (more then 200 exhibitors) and the whole party decided that is was time to go out for dinner and have some fish.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) today (14.10.2004) set out the framework for the provision of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services in Ireland.
What's New - Commission for Communications Regulation
ComReg’s decision will allow for the establishment of a new telephone number range for the purposes of allowing the introduction of VoIP services. ComReg will also allow operators of these services to use existing geographic numbers for VoIP services. (Note: only for residents, but with nomadic use).
One of the key benefits of VoIP is potentially lower call costs. It can also allow a range of services such as enhanced conference and video calling.
The main decisions in this paper are as follows:
1. ComReg intends to open a new number range (access code 076) for the purposes of facilitating the introduction of VoIP services.
2. ComReg also intends to allow operators of these types of services access to geographic numbers subject to some restrictions, which are put in place to protect the existing telephone users. (A geographic number is a number
associated with a certain area – e.g. 021 for Cork).
3. Services such a Freephone and Lo-call will be available through VoIP.
4. ComReg is requiring operators to inform consumers as to the differences between traditional voice services and Voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
This information is necessary to ensure that consumers can make an informed decision as to the type of product they are selecting.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
After first killing local numbers for VoIP by August 2005 without giving the VoIP service providers an alternative, (and driving Thilo Salmon from sipgate.de nuts) now finally the German Regulator Reg TP announced that the number range 032 will be opened for VoIP. Matthias Kurth, President of Reg TP, announced today that already November 24th (this year!) the guidleines for the number range 032 for VoIP will be announced, after this immediately requests can be made, first assignements will be made in January 2005, if possible (I have no idea what takes two month in this procedure, but this is called "Amtsweg" in German)
The annoncement was made in a Reg TP Forum in Bonn "VoIP - Revolution or Evolution in the Telecommunications market? (BTW - no answer was given on the question in the statement, so we will never know what it is)
It was also announced that the question related to local numbers will be checked again, it seems that the decision by OFTEL to allow local numbers had also reached Germany and caused reconsidering of the original decision.
More information in German:Pressemitteilung: Voice over IP belebt Wettbewerb und Innovationen im Telekommunikationsmarkt
in English: "VoIP fosters competition and innovation in the telecommunication market"
Ein Aha Erlebnis für Reg TP ;-)
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Andy Abramson in his blog
VoIP Watch: Personal Skype Out
A San Jose company has developed and released a Personal Phone Gateway (PPG) and software that enables automatic routing of Skype to Skype calls to a designated PSTN number, serving as a call forwarding agent for the call recipient with a specified phone number.
Geekzone posted it first.
But there is more to this PPG that enables almost anyone to become a telco in a manner of speaking, especially if you have unlimited long distance on the outgoing phone line.
In theory, I could load the software on my PC, connect via IP from anywhere to the PPG which is connected to the telephone adapter of say CallVantage or Vonage or Packet8. all of whom have unlimited calling capabilities and dial out as much as I want to, then share the software with family and friends who are connected by IP to the net and let them call too and reach whomever they want, giving them unlimited and free outbound calling. In an office LAN set up it would mean one number could be used for outgoing calls, begging the question how many simultaneous calls can go out over a single telephone adapter? One or unlimited (other than by bandwidth).
This is very interesting and thought/configuration provoking.
According to James Enck's EuroTelcoblog Popular Telephony is to unveil a partnership with Global IP Sound , to make GIPS' 'VoiceEngine' the voice processing technology of choice for Peerio444 (the free consumer client) and PeerioBiz (the enterprise desktop edition).
It will also be the recommended voice processor for the middleware to be embedded on hardware bearing the 'C'est Peerio' designation (again, think 'Intel inside'), though it is my understanding that embedded product manufacturing partners will have discretion if they prefer/are already using another voice processing solution.
Light Reading - Networking the Telecom Industry
The field trial of IPTV services by Swisscom AG's Bluewin business unit has encountered a few early integration problems, according to Microsoft Corp., which is supplying the software systems that enable and manage the service.
But according to the article of Lightreading this seems to be more a problem of the vendor and not of Swiccscom or of the concept of triple play.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
VeriSign's SIP-7 Service Allows VoIP Carriers to Complete Connectivity to Public Phone Network
USTA TELECOM '04, LAS VEGAS, October 11, 2004
VeriSign, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN), the leading provider of intelligent infrastructure services for the Internet and telecommunications networks, announced today that it is offering Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers a cost-effective way to exchange voice traffic with traditional telecommunications carriers.
Leveraging VeriSign’s SS7 Network and VoIP access services, VeriSign’s new SIP-7 (Session Initiation Protocol 7) Services provide SIP-to-ISUP (ISDN User Part) protocol conversion. SIP-7 allows SIP providers to connect to VeriSign’s SS7 network, the largest independent SS7 network, via a SIP-enabled soft switch and secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). The basic service provides connectivity to North American carrier’s networks with international connectivity available as an option. By offloading the complexity of interworking with the SS7 system, VoIP carriers can decrease capital expenditures and speed time to market for launching production services.
VeriSign Announces VoIP Access to Global SS7 Network from VeriSign, Inc.
Monday, October 11, 2004
... in Korea
based in the governments decision to allocate an IP-only prefix. This gives also hope for countries which made a similar decision recently (and more to come).
The The Korea Herald : The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper is citing an IDC report:
The domestic market for Internet-based telephony equipment will grow to 257.9 billion won ($226 million) by 2008 from an expected 70.3 billion won this year, according to an industry report.
International Data Corp., a U.S.-based information-technology research firm, predicts Korea's IP-based telephone equipment market to increase 41 percent annually over the next five years, following government plans to encourage Internet-based telephony services.
The Ministry of Information and Communication revealed plans last week to encourage VoIP operations by allocating an IP-only prefix, 070, that can be used anywhere in the country. The government expects around 4 million VoIP subscribers by 2007.
"The VoIP equipment market is responsive to the development stage of the service market, and the lack of regulations regarding numbering and interconnection have kept the domestic sector from taking off," said Jung Kwang-jin, a senior analyst at IDC Korea.
"With the dominant fixed-line carrier KT Corp. strengthening its efforts to extend its competitiveness in Internet-based telephony, the VoIP equipment sector is due for significant growth along with the service market," he added.
The domestic VoIP equipment market was valued at 45.7 billion won in 2003, with private branch exchange equipment, including IP-phones and VoIP gateways, accounting for a combined 34.4 billion won, or more than 75 percent of the sales.
Media gateways, which link circuit-switched telephone networks and packet-switched IP networks to carry voice and data, accounted for 14.2 percent of the sales in 2003. Soft switches, a hardware mapping device that translates the phone number into an IP address, accounted for 10.6 percent of the sales.
IDC expects the market for private branch exchange systems and VoIP gateway devices to grow annually by 50.9 percent and 33.7 percent, respectively, through 2008.
By Kim Tong-hyung
Saturday, October 09, 2004
or is it more the so-called alternative telco's which are just done with building up their circuit-switched networks with the wrong technology? - Or is Microsoft plotting against the Telco's?
Incumbent telcos accused of plotting against VoIP - ZDNet UK News: "Incumbent telcos accused of plotting against VoIP
Graeme Wearden in Barcelona
October 08, 2004, 10:55 BST
NetEvents: The traditional phone companies are trying to stifle innovation in next-generation IP services, according to equipment makers
Old-school telecoms operators are suspected of scheming behind the scenes in an attempt to hamper the new wave of companies offering IP-based telephony services.
Bert Whyte, chief executive of net.com -- a maker of broadband telecoms equipment -- claimed on Thursday that incumbents are lobbying regulators and governments in an attempt to stop Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers damaging their existing profitable voice services.
"Every carrier is concerned about this trend towards VoIP. There´s nothing they can do about this emerging explosion, unless they work with governments to regulate this business," Whyte told a group of journalists at NetEvents in Barcelona on Thursday.
"There´s a lot of work being done to stifle innovation."
Ofcom, the UK´s communications regulator, is currently deciding how VoIP should be regulated in Britain. Industry bodies representing the VoIP industry, such as the Internet service providers association (ISPA), have publicly urged Ofcom not to regulate VoIP too tightly. ISPA believes that holding Internet telephony to the same standards as traditional telephone services would harm its development.
Ofcom´s decision is eagerly awaited by the industry. Voice services make up a massive chunk of the revenue stream of a major telco such as BT. They are also very profitable, so the impact of VoIP could be a huge threat to these services, according to Whyte.
"It's like saying to Coke that they can´t sell Coca-Cola any more," said Whyte.
There is a long and undistinguished history of powerful incumbents across business attempting to block disruptive technologies that threaten them.
In the case of VoIP, though, there may be too much momentum driving IP networks for the established telecoms giants to slow it.
Neil Anderson, senior director of services at telecom's testing firm Spirent, acknowledged that established telcos have big concerns about losing revenue to IP services, but he doesn´t think this will matter too much.
"Enterprises will push IP services," said Anderson. "Enterprises who go to build new offices, or those whose existing PBX kit is old and tired, will be compelled to go to an Internet telephony solution. Service providers will be forced to offer it," Anderson added.
In the UK, BT appears to be committed to IP. Through its 21st Century Network project it will fully upgrade its network to IP within the next few years.
NetEvents also heard that few companies are actually moving to VoIP today.
"Most of the businesses Gartner talk to, aren´t there yet," said Ian Keene, Gartner´s vice-president and chief analyst. He added that IT managers are finding it "pretty darn difficult" to establish the business benefits.
...and becoming a telecom provider?
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
By Mary Jo Foley
Microsoft is expected to play up Live Communications Server 2005, due out this month, as a key piece of its quest to conquer the telephony market.
While Microsoft's Live Communications Server (LCS) is first and foremost an enterprise instant-messaging server, Microsoft is expected to position its 2005 version as its entr�e into the telephony market.
LCS 2005, code-named 'Vienna,' went to beta this summer. Microsoft announced it had delivered to testers the near-final 'release candidate' beta in mid-September. Microsoft is expected to launch the final release later this month.
Microsoft officials have described LCS 2005 as "a next-generation enterprise instant messaging (IM) and presence-awareness server."
But Microsoft also will use LCS 2005 as a way to gain a toehold in the voice-over-IP (VOIP) space, according to sources claiming familiarity with the company's plans.
"Microsoft's end game is to become a telephony provider and give Vonage, Verizon, etc., a run for their money," said one source close to the company, who requested anonymity. "They are going SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) in a big way. And because SIP is multi-media capable (start with voice, switch to video, conferencing, etc. in mid stream), it's a nice protocol for them."
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Should Europe go a similar path with VoIP?
From the Jeff Pulver Blog
62 Congressman Tell the FCC that VoIP should be considered Interstate...
...and that the FCC should have exclusive jurisdiction.
The following is a letter sent earlier today by members of the US House of Representatives to the FCC, including 33 members of the Energy and Commerce Committee and 29 non-committee members.
October 1, 2004
The Honorable Michael K. Powell
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Chairman Powell:
As you know, there are several legislative proposals pending
in Congress addressing regulatory issues involving Voice over Internet
Protocol ("VoIP) services. These services allow voice communications
to be converted into "packets" and transported over an IP network, such
as the public Internet or a privately managed IP network, to the desired
location. Each of the pending legislative proposals incorporates a
fundamental provision that declares VoIP services to be inherently
interstate in nature. We strongly agree with this broadly-accepted
cornerstone of pending VoIP legislation. We believe that such an
important, but narrow, finding cannot wait for a more comprehensive VoIP
bill to work its way through the legislative process. Therefore, we are
writing to urge the Federal Communications Commission (the
"Commission") to immediately declare that it has exclusive jurisdiction
over VoIP services. However, in doing so, any Commission action should
recognize the legitimate role of state consumer protection and public
safety laws of general applicability.
On the merits, we believe the Commission is on very firm
ground to rule in such a manner. VoIP services enable consumers to make
calls within their communities, across the country, or anywhere in the
world. With some VoIP services, a consumer can use his or her phone even
when traveling. IP technology also allows VoIP providers to integrate
video conferencing, document sharing, the forwarding of voice messages to
electronic mail addresses, and other enhanced functionalities, all
without regard to state boundaries. Finally, a VoIP customer^Òs phone
number is not necessarily restricted by geographic boundaries: a
customer living in Seattle could have a Boston phone number. In light of
the foregoing, it simply makes no sense to impose a collage of 52
different regulatory regimes on a service that has an inseverable
interstate (and international) component.
The Commission has before it a Petition for Declaratory
Ruling filed by Vonage Holdings Corporation. This petition gives the
Commission an appropriate opportunity to immediately declare that VoIP
services, whether traversing the public Internet such as Vonage^Òs or
over privately managed IP networks, are interstate in nature and subject
to the Commission^Òs exclusive jurisdiction.
We therefore urge the Commission to expeditiously issue a declaratory
ruling that VoIP services are interstate and thereby subject to the
Commission^Òs exclusive jurisdiction. We also recognize that there are
other issues the Commission is considering in the context of its Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking regarding IP-enabled services. We hope the
Commission addresses these issues, such as inter-carrier compensation,
universal service support, public safety, and disability access, in a
timely manner as well. We thank you for your consideration, and we
appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Kapsch has deployed a SIP Server giving access to the whole company phone system (with a DIAL URI ;-) and placed all extensions into ENUM.
If you want to give it a try, do an ENUM Lookup
The pilot number is +4350811, which gives you the switschboard (+4350811-0 also gives you the switchboard, as usual in Austria and Germany.
DDI extensions are 4 digits, e.g. +4350811-3184 (try it ;-)
The query gives back the SIP URI "sip:email@example.com,
the e-mail address "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
the webpage of the company "http://www.kapsch.net"
and the same number as tel URI (obviously for H323 clients)
Friday, October 01, 2004
The prize war between AT&T and Vonage is mentioned already on most blogs dealing with VoIP (see blog roll) and on many papers, so I have not much to add. I only want to point to an interesting article on OM Maliks blog on Broadband related to this issue:
Om Malik on Broadband: The great VoIP Implosion
For Austrians I only have to add: Simmering gegen Kapfenberg?
AT&T gegen Vonage - das ist Brutalitaet ;-)
From today's The Korea Herald : The Nation's No.1 English Newspaper
Government assigns access code for VoIP calls
The Ministry of Information and Communication yesterday revealed a plan to promote Internet-based telephony services by creating a dedicated dialing code for voice-over-Internet protocol calls.
The IP-only prefix, 070, could be used anywhere in the country and will be assigned to operators providing services that meet the quality requirements set by the Telecommunications Technology Association.
The association will require operators to provide services with a minimum 70 rating, a voice quality evaluation standard used by the International Telecommunication Union, that translates to greater than 95 percent connection success rate. Signals must be transmitted to receivers within 1.5 seconds.
However, the government will not allow the Internet telephony prefix code to be added to fixed-line subscribers' existing numbers, as in the case of countries such as the United Kingdom, forcing them to change numbers when switching to VoIP services.
"Considering that the 070 prefix will be used without geographical boundaries throughout the country, we are not expecting much public reluctance in switching to VoIP considering the country's broadband penetration rate," said Yoon Yang-soo, an official from the Information Ministry's Telecommunications Service Development Division.
The numbering system is part of the ministry's new regulations on Internet-based telephony services that go into effect this month.
Companies may register for VoIP licenses starting today and current service providers must apply for a license renewal within 90 days from now if they wish to use the 070 prefix. This would allow some companies to use the access code as early as late October considering the association's reviewing period, ministry officials said.
However, fixed-line operators controlling the broadband backbone networks and telephony infrastructure, such as servers and routers, most notably KT Corp. and Hanarotelecom Inc., will be allowed to use the 070 prefix starting next year.
The ministry will set the VoIP interconnection rates, the charges imposed on Internet telephony companies accessing backbone networks, by the end of this year. With difficulties in tracking down traffic and evaluating the costs of IP-based services, the ministry is considering a revenue sharing model for interconnection payments.
VoIP is a technology that enables voice signals to be sent over the Internet. VoIP services could provide cheaper voice services for consumers and allow access to high-tech features such as video-telephony and datacasting. The government believes Internet telephony can increase competition in the slowing traditional telephone and broadband Internet market, with the comparatively low cost for technology setting a low entry barrier for new companies.
Government officials predict Korea will complete its transition to IP-based telephony by 2010, while generating 5.3 trillion won ($4.6 billion) in service revenue by then.
After Serome C&T Inc. launched its personal computer-based telephone service in 2000, Internet telephony grew to a 39.1 billion won ($33.9 million) market in 2003 with more than 200,000 subcribers.
Fixed-line carriers such as KT and Hanarotelecom provide Internet telephony over their broadband networks, while software developers such as Serome C&T and Great Human Software offer PC-to-PC connections. KT and long-distance operator Dacom Corp. also use IP networks for their international call services.
By Kim Tong-hyung
- After Austria now also Germany is taking up speed on ENUM. A very sucessful 3rd ENUM Day was held in Frankfurt/Main on 28. September. Most astonishing was the number of 140 participants showing up, congratulations. The presentations given (German) can be retrieved from here.
DENIC eG - ENUM Gaining Momentum
DENIC Organizes Third ENUM Day with Focus on Security
In the context of the ongoing ENUM trial in Germany, DENIC, the registry in charge, organized its third ENUM Day on 28 September 2004. ENUM is a new technology which bridges the gap between the worlds of telecommunications and the Internet. ENUM and the ENUM services provide users with access to the whole communications universe through established telephone numbers. Some 140 experts, including many DENIC members already offering ENUM domains, telecommunication-services providers and academics, discussed the progress that ENUM had made in Germany in the preceding months.
Since the second ENUM Day in March 2004, the number of providers handling the registration of ENUM domains had more than doubled. Users can now choose from 43 providers in Germany. Even stronger - 227% - had been the increase recorded for the number of ENUM domains (up from 260 to 850). These figures might appear only marginal given the large number of telephone connections. However, with a single ENUM domain, it is possible to operate whole telephone installations, including several hundreds and even thousands of lines, which means that the number of ENUM users is significantly greater than the number of domains.
Two of the crucial subjects discussed in the course of the ENUM Day were security and concepts for dealing with SPAM in the field of Internet telephony (also known as "SPIT"). In each of these cases, there are issues of authentication (i.e. verification that the sender indicated and the true sender are identical) and protection against data espionage and data corruption. The speakers presented various models for future solution strategies. Professor Andreas Steffen of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Winterthur, for instance, spoke about tackling security matters at the technical protocol level of the ENUM standard. John-Erik Horn presented his ideas for a nationwide telephone network for Germany that would use only the Internet and that would route all its calls using ENUM.
Not all speakers approached ENUM in terms of its technical potential. Dr. Volker Leib, a social scientist from the Nexus Institute in Berlin, rates the Internet, voice-over-IP and ENUM as highly significant innovations, which are going to lead to fundamental structural changes; indeed, he believes that some such changes have already occurred and foresees massive shifts in the technological basis of telephony in the coming years. He reported that telecommunications giants, such as Deutsche Telekom and British Telecom, are already working on the assumption of the existing network being closed down within a period of 5-10 years to be replaced by a new IP network based on Internet technology. Despite that, the current telephone numbers will remain in use, as will the more than two billion telephone connections existing worldwide. Leib went on to appeal for a forward-looking innovation policy to provide the general environment for future developments and to ensure legal and planning certainty for the companies involved. Market access must also be made easier for suppliers of voice-over-IP services. Leib finished by stressing the tremendous importance of working for an early launch of commercial ENUM operations and for ensuring an uncomplicated transition from the current trial phase to the "live" phase.
The presentations and the accompanying notes are made available at the DENIC web-site.
Background to ENUM
The term “ENUM” is derived from “telephone number mapping”. It is a protocol defining how to link together resources from the telecommunications and Internet spheres. It sets out a rule by means of which a telephone number can be uniquely mapped to a domain. This domain can then be used for the identification of various communication services, such as telefaxes, cell phones, voice-mail systems, e-mail addresses, IP-telephony addresses, web pages or call diverts.
The idea behind ENUM is simple yet ingenious. Instead of having to grapple with lots of different numbers and addresses for private, office and mobile phones as well as telefax, e-mail and websites, which demand a really big effort just to keep them up-to-date, it is going to be possible in future to enter just one single number per person in our address books. Making sure that each communication is routed to the appropriate output device is then going to be handled by the entries in the ENUM name server.
The linking of telephone numbers and Internet resources is leading to the creation of totally new services. One basic service is finding an Internet terminal with telephony capability from a conventional telephone. As an option, it is possible with ENUM to draw callers’ attention to alternative communication channels that are actually available. If no Internet device with telephony capability is available, the caller will be able to select an appropriate alternative from the list of additional applications presented.
Further general information about ENUM and specific information about the trial operation at DENIC are available on DENIC’s website.
Copyright DENIC eG 2004. Reprint permitted, author's copy requested.
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