Martin Geddes gets it, when he says:
What Martin is saying is that you don’t need a VoIP service provider at all for making calls over the Internet. A phone with an IP address can easilly communicate directly with another phone with an IP address. The bandwdith is already being paid for in the Internet service fees. There is nothing special about VoIP bits compared to web bits or email bits.
All we need is a way for phones to find each other and to be smart enough to perform the lookups and carry out the call. That’s not hard. Skype shows one way, and it’s great that they prove the end-to-end concept, but Skype is a closed proprietary system. We have standards that already exist for doing this. SIP and ENUM is all you need and these are well established published and open Internet standards.
Unfortunately the United States has been slow to embrace ENUM. It might have something to do with the lobbying power of the incumbant telephone giants, but it just could be that our bureaucracy has more overhead than that of the rest of the world too.
While the U.S. government ponders what to do, efforts are already underway to provide relief. The e164.org folks have created a nifty little public ENUM registry. Their focus is on IAX but it can be used with SIP as well. In it’s current form, it is more for the Linux hackers among us, probably beyond the technical abilities of the common end-user to set up, but it further proves the practicality of end-to-end Internet calls and portends the future.
People are making direct point-to-point calls today. These calls do not require a VoIP provider of any kind. Your smart phone calls my smart phone and nobody else has to know about it.