IETF on VoIPeer (VoIP Peering)

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IETF on VoIPeer (VoIP Peering)

Last week Erik Lagerway posted his interesting interview with Cullen Jennings from Cisco. In this interview Erik talks about the IETF's work on P2P SIP (peer-to-peer SIP), or basically connecting to other VoIP peers without a centralized body to "negotiate" the connection. But what Erik neglected to talk about is the "other" interesting work going on at the IETF - also regarding "peering"

What was also interesting in the IETF meeting was not just their work on P2P SIP but also the IETF's work on VoIPeer. What's VoIPeer? It's short for VoIP Peering. The IETF attempted in their VoIPeer BoF (Birds of a Feather) meeting with carriers, service providers, and other telecom players to "hash out" a way of using SIP for interconnection between the carriers. Essentially, VoIPeer addresses peering of “standard” SIP signaling with intermediaries (proxy servers). The question is how to leverage the SIP protocol with some modifications to do this and to not invent a new protocol. Of course, ENUM has a major role to play in interconnection as well. The original proposal by David Meyer can be viewed here. Slides from the meeting can be viewed here.

According to one source, "the IETF actually got service provider participation and it seemed like there was a drive to start bypassing the PSTN completely. This fits well with the end-to-end IP model of the IETF, so it well received in general. There were probably 200 people in attendance and some people had to stand. Jon Peterson, Jonathan Rosenberg (both of SIP fame at IETF) commented often throughout the meeting."

My source also provided this analysis of the meeting:

The bottom line seems to be that the IETF will take this up again at the next meeting and this may spur efforts in a few working groups. Service providers want to go IP end-to-end and if they do this could have a big effect on how valuable PSTN interconnect is perceived to be. The SIP/SIPPING guys love it, as it could mean voice/video/chat application interconnect, etc.

His analysis is spot on, and I do hope that the carriers "truly" want to go IP end-to-end and aren't just going to play "games" to try and protect their turf. I think the economics of IP are at the point where the carriers no longer have a choice. They will have to go IP end-to-end if they want to compete. I foresee smaller VoIP players such as Lingo or Packet8 eventually peering up together or even with larger players such as Vonage. By building a large IP peering fabric, they can cut their costs on terminating to the traditional PSTN, which by its very nature is more expensive than terminating over IP. So if for example you are a Packet8 user and you dial a Lingo customer, with peering in place, you can still terminate the connection via IP instead of via the PSTN. Of course, Packet8 may have to pay Lingo a nominal fee to terminate this IP connection - it all depends on their inter-connection agreement - but it is still less than the cost of terminating over the PSTN. Of course, peering & terminating calls on someone else's network could even be "free" if they choose to do so.

According to my anonymous source, "The guy from AT&T that spoke apparently was one of the lead architects for AT&T CallVantage. Many other service providers were in the audience and discussed afterwards. Also in attendance was all the major SIP proxy, softswitch, and SBC vendors it seemed. (Though the love/hate relationship with SBC vendors continues, and was highlighted in a SIP/SIPPING WG discussion on SBCs.)"

Just before posting this entry, I noticed in my RSS reader that James Seng, whom I participated in a VoIP Blogger panel with a few months ago, was at the IETF meeting. Boy James, you sure get around! He has daily reports on the IETF, but specifically his Day Three report discusses VoIPeer and he has some similar insights and opinions you should check out.

It's too early to claim end-to-end VoIP peering is just around the corner, but major progress is being made. A VoIP peering standard for the VoIP industry would be analogous
to giving NOS to a Viper. Sure the Viper already moves fast and the same goes for the hot, fast-moving VoIP industry. But whether it’s a shot of NOS or a VoIP peering standard, both will make the fast move even faster.
(Reminds me of SpaceBalls - "Ludicrous Speed!")

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