Friday, February 25, 2005

NEXT Carrier/Infrastructure ENUM in e164.info launched 

Netzquadrat.de launched a Carrier/Infrastructure ENUM system in e164.info. See also at The Register. I also include the English Version of the press release at the end of this post..

So what? Another Carrier/infrastructure ENUM application?

As some may know, there exist already such solutions , so what's the difference?

Most other applications are within walled gardens, between groups of peering carriers (e.g. cable operators, mobile operators, etc.). Either the end-points are not accessible from the public Internet and/or the DNS tree is also not accessible. This is the first ENUM application where every provider may participate (provided he signs the MoU and most of the providers also provide their customers public SIP URIs (real VoIP according to Henry Sinnreich), although the solution also offers the providers a possibilty to offer their data only to known peers and also to anonymize the data.

So why not do this in e164.arpa as intended?

The Register states clearly the reason:

The ENUM standard, also know as e164.arpa, is organised along the lines of the traditional numbering plan - and is therefore controlled by national regulators and, internationally, by the International Telecommunication Union. This has slowed progress. It is increasingly clear that VoIP providers will not wait for the official ENUM.

It has not slowed progress, it seems to stall it.

ENUM in e164.arpa has two basic problems:

Problem One: Country Opt-in
Problem Two: User Opt-in

In detail:

The IAB contacted the ITU-T regarding e164.arpa and the ITU-T, although reacting fast, and doing their part well, could only do what the ITU-T could do, namely declaring the rest as national matter.

So the ball was with the national regulators. Many regulators did not do anything, although quite a number re-acted and did what modern regulators do in such a case, they launched a consultation.

A consulation is asking the public (basically the people you know and have contact with) on their opinion - so the regulators in principle asked the telcos and sometimes also the ISPs.

The answers from most telcos was basically a replay of the answer the DARPA got from AT&T when asked if they want to build the Internet:

1. This will never work (We are the experts, this is all very complicated and if we would know a better method we would not spend so much money on the existing (e.g. SS7 and IN) systems.

2. If we are wrong and it works by chance, there will be no business case

3. If we are wrong again, an it is a business by chance, it will cannibalize our existing business (this argument was not spoken out, the first two where sufficient in most cases).

The ISPs asked at this time had no clue on telephony or VoIP at all or did not want to get in competition with telcos already.

Since VoIP was already reaching the horizon in some countries, and some telcos are not so sure about it, they showedat least interest: Let's establish a forum of interested parties looking at the issues to be solved. Most countries went this way and are still there by trying to solve all ENUM related issues first. In some countries there was finally a place where on can rant about the Internet situation in general and want all issues solved first before ENUM can be implemented: e.g. spam, spit, privacy, security, DoS-attacks, QoS, world hunger, global warming, ...

In some countries even trials where launched (to find out if the DNS works) and after 3 years they still are not quite sure. In some countries trials where launched even without the help of the regulator and without an official delegation and are quite successfull (see Asia).

Or as James Seng said:

Some countries have a delegation in e164.arpa and do not know what to do with it, and others know what to do, but do not get a delgagtion.

Finally some countries got over all these hazzles, with the help of the ccTLDs and a friendly and understanding regulator and are now stuck with the other problems:

1. How to overcome Metcalfe's Law
2. How to explain this to the end-users and enterprises (because they have to opt-in and also basically have no clue to what they should opt-in).

And if you get over this hurdle, the end-user or the enterprise asks you:
And whom can I reachnow in ENUM?

You have then to answer honestly: hmm, ehh, basically nobody, because in other countries they will maybe, eventually, if at all, launch this service in 2006, or maybe later, or never.

Since the end-user is clueless, they only way to sell ENUM seems to be in a bundle with a VoIP service and/or with a IP Communications service and this can only be sold by VoIP and IPC providers.

So Carrier/Infrastructure ENUM is a way out to overcome this problem and it may even mot conflict with ENUM in e164.arpa

There is of course the problem with applications like e164.info: everbody can do this (if Thilo can do it;-) and therefore there will be no unique global system for VoIP peering.

This is the reason why ETSI is proposing to create a second tree in .arpa for provider use, but there seems to be no interest( yet), maybe until it is too late. Maybe also ETSI is talking to the wrong people.

Good night.

Press release:

DUESSELDORF, Germany, February 24, /www.e164.info/ - Starting today,
e164.info offers public access to its voice over ip (VoIP) interconnection
service. Traditional local exchange carriers and VoIP service providers
connected to e164.info, benefit from cost savings by shifting their long
distance calls to the internet. e164.info's huge database enables providers
to deliver calls to more then 100 million phone numbers at no cost, finally
delivering on the VoIP promise of significant savings.

Most of today's domestic and international phone calls are still delivered
over costly dedicated circuits. With VoIP technology maturing, the telecom
industry gears up to take advantage of low-cost phone calls delivered over
the Internet. In order to maximize savings, phone service providers are
facing the challenge to shift as many calls as possible to the Internet.
Until now, most players lacked a central piece of technology to do so; an
international database from which they could organise which phone service
would deliver calls to a certain destination number.

After more than six months of extensive field testing with a closed group
of market leaders in the VoIP arena, e164.info today announced the
immediate availability of its interconnection service. At launch time a
total of 14 connected service providers have submitted more than
100 million phone numbers to e164.info's database. These phone numbers
are spread over more than 160.000 different dialling prefixes covering
8 countries. e164.info has managed to secure broad support among relevant
players in most western markets. Its prominent members include
Callme.se (Sweden), e-fon.ch (Switzerland), Magrathea Telecommunications
Limited (Great Britain), Musimi.dk (Denmark), MS Networks S.A. (Luxembourg),
sipgate (Austria, Germany, Great Britain) and SIPphone Inc. (USA).

The launch of e164.info marks the world's first massive deployment of a
technology dubbed "Carrier-ENUM" by experts. Open Internet standards ensure
interoperability among service providers and ease deployment as almost all
of today's software already supports "Carrier-ENUM".

SIPphone, Inc.'s (www.sipphone.com) CEO and Founder, Michael Robertson,
praises the new system: "e164.info greatly simplifies interconnection
between VoIP providers around the globe, like SIPphone. We were excited
to see so many companies and organizations working together to hasten
the inevitable result of VoIP: free calls."

Founding father of e164.info, Thilo Salmon, a German VoIP expert, is
pleased with its take-up in the industry. "I am thrilled to see e164.info
gaining acceptance so rapidly. Free and low-cost phone calls are arguably
the driving force behind the VoIP revolution. e164.info is pleased to
cater to the booming VoIP industry to the benefit of both the service
providers and customers", says Salmon.

Contact:

Steve Mancour
[netzquadrat] GmbH
+49 211 5800 3305
mancour@e164.info

http://www.e164.info

Comments:
Richard, are there privacy issues with a public ENUM-like directory such as this e164.info service? How much information is shared among providers, is it just phone numbers? If it is more, can users opt-out?

I can see privacy concerns being limited in a closed walled garden system that you described, but once you start moving information into a public database things get tricky. How hard would it be for a marketer to harvest all the numbers in e164.info and then start sending unsolcited calls their way (which could be real easy if there is IP reachability to the phones).
 
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