Saturday, April 23, 2005

Skype - the new bull 

Aswath commented on my last entry:
I am not sure whether I meant to write a requiem for SIP, but it was certainly to be an advice for the young bull. There was a time when H.323 was dumped because it was bellheaded; now it is SIP's turn to get the same label. The interesting thing to observe is that Skype apologists are suggesting that Skype will vanquish everything else. How more bellheaded can one be?
I agree. And of course I got the message that the young bull should keep in mind he will be the old bull in the future. And product cycles get shorter and shorter now-a-days. But young bulls basically do not care about these issues ;-)

My post was of course intended to be provokative and I still hope that the SIP-guys get their act together, remember one of the basic design principles of the Internet and one of the major reasons for its sucess: Keep-It-Simple.

There are already quiet attempts (also caused by the sucess of Skype) to get back to the roots and define a profile for Simple SIP. To no avail up to now - you are up against bellheads.

But what if Skype really IS the young bull and taking over the current PSTN?
In quiet moments I had this vision, or nightmare, or whatever, but I did not really thought through all the implications and consequences.

Basically Skype is an NGN in the walled garden terminology of ITU-T, ETSI, 3GPP and ATIS. I use this analogy sometimes to provoke my colleagues during IMS standardization meetings:
  1. Skype claims to have superior end-to-end QoS, and contrary to IMS NGN Skype has already proven this fact.
  2. Skype also has an important network element which is essential in IMS NGN: Session Border Controllers (SBC).
Skype has two types of SBCs: gateways to the PSTN and the Skype Clients running at the end-users devices. The only access to Skype is via these propriatory SBC.

Skype has one big advantage: it is available and NGN IMS is not (maybe in two years, if they get their act together, maybe never)

So what if Skype keeps growing exponentially, spreading from PCs to fixed and mobile devices. If finally IMS NGN is ready, the market is taken. What can they offer in addition to get the customers back? SIM-identity? Skype can provide this also.

If this happens, what will be the future of Skype be regarding regulation?
Will Skype have to open up their interfaces?
Will Skype have to make their protocol public and standardized?
Will everybody have to pay royalties to Skype?
Will it be de-regulated and broken up like ATT?

Or will there other systems out and the end-user has a multipurpose client negotiating with the other end-point like now for codecs?

Many questions, few answers, but:

It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.
(choose your own Source)

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