From the Sprint announcement
There are several key items to point out about this move, but here a are few highlights:
1. This is a major US carrier not only endorsing VoIP Peering, but launching their own VoIP Peering service.
Major IXC's have been peering VoIP traffic for several years now, but even with that there remains some skepticism of VoIP Peering being a real service. Maybe this announcement will put an end to that.
2. This is a "business-to-business wholesale exchange of voice traffic".
Going a step beyond carrier to carrier VoIP and firmly in to the enterprise VoIP Peering world is a major move. B2B VoIP Peering will swiftly bring about the drain of the PSTN and drive the need for carrier Ethernet transport to every business in the US and world to support the shift to VoIP to take advantage of the benefits of VoIP Peering. Hopefully the Sprint sales reps understand the power of this product to sell IP transit (as transport and PSTN bypass) and not see it as a voice replacement service.
3. ..."minutes that cross the PIN architecture are charged at a lower rate than traditional PSTN networks and drive down transport costs."
This is the weak link in the story. Sprint as a traditional voice carrier sees its VoIP Peering service as something that should/can be billed for on a per-minute basis (at least for some portion of the calls flowing over THEIR IP network). First off it would be better if it were true Ethernet transport and not IP transit (even though it is soley over the Sprint IP network), but that would cost more to carry. Second, why reinvent minutes in an on-net IP world? It is a service and billing metric that is doomed. Just look at mobile Minutes of Use moving to a flat-rate, all-you-can-eat billing plan.
There is a slight difference in mediatng minutes between two different carriers in that if Sprint is taking on the financial risk of billing and settlement they are entitled to make something on the minutes passed, but billing two enterprises to send calls to eachother is so passe. You may think that is crazy, but wait for Enterprise Skype and see what happens. It is better to be in the transport business and let the apps flow above than try to stop the tide from flowing.
The Sprint Partner Interexchange Network (PIN) is what they call it and one of the key benefits listed is avoiding the need to establish your own peering relationships. It is true that this can be a pain and when there are hundreds of possible carrier interconnections that can be made it can get nutty. With that said there is definetly an advantage to carriers with enough traffic bound for another to set up a direct peering connection to avoid additional charges (minutes, or otherwise). For enterprises though it makes a ton of sense to let someone else manage this because in the enterprise VoIP Peering world there are not hundreds of potential peers, there are thousands. No IT manager could manage that.
All in all this is a big move for Spint and VoIP Peering!