ENUM ain't gonna happen

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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ENUM ain't gonna happen

Mr. Blog
had some interesting thoughts a couple of days ago.

As we near the end of 2005, what is the status of ENUM? The original RFCs were published in 2000 I believe.
Is there a single commercial VoIP provider that supports the official e164.arpa ENUM? If they do, they certainly don't promote it or mention it anywhere on their web sites that I can find. Vonage, AT&T CallVantage, Packet8, Broadvoice, SunRocket? Anyone?

Of course to support ENUM, they would first have to support interoperable IP to IP calling, by SIP address, or otherwise. Again, few if any of the providers make any mention of this on their site or in their documentation. Some appear to have at least some limited support for placing or receiving calls over IP, but it's difficult to determine if it is intentional and a supported feature or simply a side-effect.

The only thing that will change things is consumer demand. As long as we let the providers remain closed walled gardens, they will. So much for the IP revolution.

Hear, Hear, Mr. Blog! I couldn't agree more. Why is ENUM taking so long? Are money and greed the only human inspiration? What about cool innovation for the sake of innovation and not the almighty dollar? I'm no socalist, but seriously, how much money do Vonage, Packet8, AT&T CallVantage, and all the other providers need that they can't offer ENUM connectivity with competing VoIP providers?

Come to think of it, most VoIP subscribers probably have the "unlimited minutes" plan, so the VoIP providers aren't generating any more revenue or doing themselves any favors by having these closed walls. In fact, the VoIP providers themselves have to incur more costs when they terminate to a phone number over the PSTN when they could have routed the call over IP to their competitor's subscriber. If VoIP provider A simply routed the call to competing VoIP provider B, VoIP Provider B could even charge VoIP provider A a nominal fee for terminating the call to its VoIP subscriber over IP - it's still less expensive than a PSTN termination. Of course, tracking direct IP calls made via an ENUM lookup, specifically the call duration for billing purposes could be tricky. Alternatively, they could just have a mutual agreement to terminate calls to each other's VoIP subscribers at no charge.

I don't believe VoIP broadband service has cracked even 10% U.S. marketshare, so in my opinion, the VoIP providers should "band together" and offer free intra-VoIP provider calling. This would be one more feature that could aid in VoIP broadband market penetration. With more competition from cellular companies, cable companies, and especially Triple Play packages, etc. the single-play VoIP providers will need to "band together" sooner rather than later if they want to compete in the near future.

Instead, the VoIP providers have chosen to become the closed-wall carriers of the 21st century.

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