Could VoIP market become fragmented?

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Could VoIP market become fragmented?

One of the beauties of VoIP is its openness, its adherence to industry standards, and its ability to easily route calls across the public Internet or private networks. Unfortunately, many VoIP startups are building their own proprietary networks (i.e. their own “islands”) that don't communicate with each other.

For example, say you sign-up with Vonage and then you make a call to a Packet8 user. (Both of these are VoIP broadband service providers.) When you initiate the call, you start with an analog phone which digitizes the voice into IP packets which then go to Vonage. Vonage then calls the Packet8 phone number over the PSTN to connect the call. How inefficient is that? Why should Vonage pay to connect the call to the PSTN when it can save money by keeping the call on IP and re-routing to Packet8's network?

What should happen is that Vonage re-routes the call to Packet8's network, charge Packet8 a nominal connect charge, and then Packet8 uses its own PSTN connection to terminate the call. In fact, this is how the carriers work visa vis peering and termination agreements. It’s still a lot cheaper for carriers to route calls to competitors and pay a nominal fee than it would be to build out their own network to connect the call. For example, Qwest would pay a nominal fee to WorldCom to terminate calls on Worldcom’s network.

Actually, even better, the call from a Vonage user to a Packet8 user should just stay on IP the whole time, so it's an IP-to-IP connection and never touches the PSTN! Hey if carriers, the very bastion of fierce competitors can get along, I don’t see why the VoIP providers can’t do the same. So just how can they do that? Well, one solution may be to utilize the ENUM standard. In fact, I just read a release about such an interesting solution this morning. Here’s the press release:

InOne.Net to VoIP Providers : Don't Stay on your Islands, the integrated Voice Over IP (VoIP) package for Internet Service Providers now offers existing VoIP providers the possibility to interconnect using ENUM technology, allowing their users to communicate with customers of different providers, for free.

Leader in VoIP integration and first operating ENUM Registry, Internet One Ltd offers to Internet and Voice Over IP service providers the possibility to join the community to offer to customers what matters more: interoperability and advanced services.

"The current trend in VoIP is dangerous" says Jean-Christophe Vignes, Business Development Manager at Internet One Ltd "we see more and more services offering a basic VoIP package and customers happy to make cheap phone calls… until they realise they cannot talk to many of their friends who are using competing VoIP solutions! Because the telephone system has always allowed people using one carrier to call their family and friends who are using another, VoIP users obviously expect the same ease of use but too often do not get it. We believe ENUM and our community approach are the best way to modify this 'desert island' trend for the benefit of everyone".

Voice Over IP (VoIP) depends on specific Internet protocols to transmit voice communications. uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) adopted by the majority of VoIP providers today, but adds ENUM as a bridge between different ISPs worldwide and their existing or future customers. With ENUM, all members of the community can be reached using their unique Internet phone numbers by any user of the growing list of ENUM-Capable ISPs. The ENUM numbers have been delegated to Internet One, one of the first ENUM Registry worldwide, as part of the International Telecom Union’s numbering plan.

In addition, these numbers could be mapped effortlessly to different services such as voice, fax, instant messaging or even e-mail… So members of the community can always be reached wherever they are using the same number, and at the lower cost possible.

"We want our members to get the best VoIP experience, which of course means free or really cheap calls, but also a full range of additional useful services such as integrated Instant Messaging or micro-payment mechanism to secure e-commerce transactions" adds Vignes. "our modular infrastructure has already drawn interest from ISPs in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Swizerland and France and should appeal to any provider willing to complete their offering with one or more of the additional tools we offer: ENUM, IM… All they have to do is 'get off their islands' and become part of the community!"

Using the page, can be tried out for free until the end of September by any ISP wanting to provide VoIP service to their customers, or by any individual willing to contact users for free during the period. ISPs will then have to pay a small annual fee to remain part of the Community.

About Internet One
Internet One Ltd is a sister company of Internet Computer Bureau Plc, the leading software provider and networking specialist. With its service, Internet One aims at providing the best possible communication and VoIP package to Internet Service Providers willing to maximize their broadband offering. With a standard-based set of tools such as SIP, ENUM and Jabber Instant Messaging, gives these ISPs’ customers the opportunity to communicate seamlessly with millions of Internet and telephone users.

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