Voice Peering Summit Live Today

Shrihari Pandit, the founder of Stealth Communications, kicked off the conference this morning here at the Voice Peering Summit in the Wall Street Area of Manhattan. He had some interesting things to discuss, such as how the Voice Peering Fabric or VPF allows interconnection with SS7 networks and advanced services such as connectivity to PSAPs and ANI databases. Shrihari mentioned that 17 billion minutes have passed through the VPF this year. What he didn’t say (but I discussed it with him recently) is that this number is in less than two years since the inception of the VPF.

I spoke after Shrihari and I think my presentation went well. Everyone seemed very interested and hungry for knowledge. I mentioned to the crowd of about 200 people that I declared 2006 the year of VoIP peering. I then queried the audience and asked if anyone could tell me the year of videoconferencing. I got some good laughs on this last point and explained how I went out on a limb with my prediction. Based on the audience size at this event, I think I may be right on, and after my presentation I received some great feedback that I am probably right.

Next, Telx’s Hunter Newby moderated a panel with a speaker from MetTel, a New York-based Integrated Communications Provider that has over ten thousand SMB customers and primarily sells through agent channels. The speaker was quite good; his name was Edward Fox III, the company’s VP of Network Services. A PowerPoint diagram of their network showed Cisco gateways, Netrake session border controllers and services from Broadsoft. MetTel has its own dark fiber and collocation cages and is SS7 certified with Verizon so they can do their own LNP.

The VPF has become an enabler for MetTel, allowing the company to do ENUM origination and termination. Fox seemed elated to be part of this network. The company is looking forward to doing SIP LNP via SNET Diversified Group, operator services and 411.

Fox mentioned that VoIP communities of interest can be built within the VPF; I was very excited to hear this, as this topic is near and dear to my heart.

Rich Linstrom, the VP of Sales & Marketing from Telecom New Zealand, spoke about his company’s Business Futures Group that focuses on new opportunities. They are exploring many areas including VoIP peering. The company offers DIDs in a number of areas and have a number of metrics available to the retail market to ensure quality.

The company is looking to have their VPF interconnection in place by mid-December and will conduct business on the network by January of 2006.

Don MacNeil, the VP of Carrier Sales Operations of XO Communications, took the stage next, and I was blown away at the sheer size of the company’s network, with 90 Sonus softswitch gateways and many Broadsoft servers. This is in addition to Acme Packet session border controllers.

Their network is only one hop away from the PSTN, meaning the quality of the calls is great. How do you do LNP in ENUM?, is an interesting question MacNeil said they are working on. A notable quote was, "Nomadic E911 will be more tied up in policy than technology in the upcoming months." They will support nomadic E911 and foreign ANI, according to MacNeil. He thinks transcoding will also become better over time and hinted that there is room for improvement in this area.

MacNeil asked himself, Why did we do this? — referring to connecting to the VPF. The answer was simple: It is the future. The Internet is the future of the PSTN, according to MacNeil. It is a speed to revenue objective for us.

Gary Kim, the editor of VoIP Business Weekly, moderated a panel next and mentioned he is a believer in the telecom business and wants to help carriers make money in a world where minutes are free.

Jim Shepard, Executive Vice President, HBF Group, explained to the audience that if you could get any call to the company on the VPF via SIP they can get it to the right 911 PSAP. The audience seemed very happy to hear this, based on the loud applause as he finished his brief presentation.

Dave Tipping, the Product Line Manager from Sonus Networks, then spoke about their support for SIP, which they have had for years, as well as the ability to work with them and the VPF to enable lower termination rates and to choose the provider of your choice.

Paul J. Brady, Director of Product Marketing, SNET DG, spoke about their nationwide SS7 signaling network, directory assistance and wireless roaming services. They can take SIP messages into the network and then get the information requested and convert it back to SIP. They are doing this with three VoIP carriers and are looking for more carriers to work with.

They manage the LNP database in the US and will soon work with Canada. The company also maintains an 800 number database. They also have an international code database and can use it to determine which codes come from which carrier. They take the digits as they come in and help people who are launching calls to determine if their call is going to a wireless or wireline carrier. This is important, as costs are higher for wireless carriers. An interesting tidbit is that SNET had the very first telephone book in the US (I was a SNET customer growing up in Connecticut).

Next up was Joe Dechant, Solutions Architect Manager, VeriSign, who spoke about how his company supports up to 14 billion SS7 transactions daily on the largest private SS7 network in the world. Dechant mentioned that Verisign’s connectivity into the VPF allows you to have access to Verisign services and ENUM registry.

Overall the first half of the day was very educational and the audience was glued to its seats throughout. An information-packed afternoon will be discussed in a follow-up article.

So far, the general themes are 1) understanding what VoIP peering is, 2) the services available and 3) how to make money in a world where voice is free. As an industry we need to move to VoIP 2.0 sooner rather than later, as peering will drive the money out of voice services much more rapidly than many realize.

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