Pathfinder Needs to Find a New Way

In a recent blog post from Jim Dalton on the TransNexus website, Jim discusses Pathfinder, which is the GMSA's new number portability database service managed by Neustar. I find this to be a very important piece of the VoIP Peering puzzle and an increasingly complicated one as we shift from fixed-lined PSTN to fixed-line broadband IP as well as deal with the entirely new universe of mobile voice and portability within and between each.

I do like ENUM of course, but really believe in the long run endpoints will be resolved to SRV records. Not only will that sever the last link to the PSTN from a number perspective, but also as it seems the last link to the PSTN billing models and philosophies.

Read Jim's blog to get a better understanding of the Pathfinder service and then see my response below.


Jim, I totally agree! If they leave it as a Called Party pays model then I can see a lot of people trying to become an agent (if they have such a program) to bring business to Pathfinder. Those people will probably also have some involvement in a IXC, or LEC of some type that they will then originate millions of calls to Pathfinder from. Hey, why not? They're not paying for it - the big carries are! Then the agent gets a commission from Pathfinder for running up a big bill that the big carrier has to pay.

I have seen this play out in several different ways in the voice business. Recip Comp and the Free Conference Call services are a perfect example. Pick an NPA in an expensive LATA and give away a conference calling service after you have your recip comp agreements in place and watch the calls come in! Most end users have flat-rate all-you-can-eat plans at home/work today, but the LEC in LATA XYZ still gets paid per minute from the carrier handing off the call - usually the RBOC. It is no wonder the RBOC's want to kill Recip Comp.

The bottom line is that spending someone else's money is easy, so if the model works that way it won't work. True multi-lateral (free exchange) works best in the IP world as proven by the ISP's - otherwise we would have had a pay-per-packet model for the Internet which would have killed its adoption.

The issue is that the "numbers" and registration of them have been separated from the databases that can facilitate the interconnection of those IP endpoints - and both service providers want to get paid. One for the "number" and the other for the "lookup".

Aside from Calling Party pays, the end resolution of end point resolution will be to have true multi-lateral VoIP peering which is just like a DNS lookup. You don't pay every time you type in a URL and go to a website, so you should not have to pay to look up an IP endpoint in the VoIP world either. Anything else is and will be fragmented, disparate and create loopholes, like the current Pathfinder model, that will be found and exploited at someone's expense.

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