Two phones that pass in the night

Martin Geddes gets it, when he says:

Eventually the public are going to discover that the sole �voice� function they�ve bought is the mapping of a phone number to an IP address. This isn�t any harder than DNS, which comes for free with any Internet connection. The Internet is perfectly capable of doing the haulage. read entire post

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 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.

There is no such thing as the �market for VoIP calls�. It�s a mirage.

6 comments for “Two phones that pass in the night

  1. You hit the nail on the head, and need to keep hammering. Another benefit of not using a VoIP provider is that you never have to worry about the number portability issues that plagued cellular phones for years. When you commit to doing VoIP, do it right from the beginning, and use so that you’re not locked into the provider’s dialup information. You wouldn’t run your business with a Hotmail address: why run your phones through a similar provider?

  2. We’ve intially focused on IAX and Asterisk as this is one of the first applications to support multiple enum registries without a problem. I’m also lead to believe Cisco VOIP products and the very latest versions SER (SIP Express Router) CVS also support mutliple enum registries and over time and with time permitting we will be continually updating our documentation sections to reflect other software and hardware products.

    Currently we only allow 1 record for each number, that being either H323, SIP or IAX2 URLs, again in future with time permitting we’re hoping to expand this to include a lot more information such as mailto records, or even ICQ URIs. So instead of needing to know 1,000,000 different ways to contact someone potentially it’s possible in future to just need one, their phone number.

  3. The new (still in beta) SIP PBX option of the Intertex IX66 also will support doing ENUM lookups to multiple registries.

    The other thing about today is that makes it seem somewhat Asterisk focused is the way that it has a strong bias on numbers, instead of ascii URIs, as destinations.

    Very cool though, Duane. Good stuff.

  4. As dad always used to tell me, Keep It Simple, Stupid! So I try to live by the KISS theorim where possible, especially when dealing with a service that involved phones. The 12 key keypads are limiting, there is only so much you can do easily to make them useful.

    That said we’re more then happy to accept donations of documentation, any suggestion can be sent through our mailing list or sent to us directly… support at e164 dot org

  5. Utilisation of an ENUM type system is critical to the general take up of VoIP type networks.

    It will happen – at some point.

    The larger networks (such as pulver) need to take a certain amount of responsibility and kick-start it properly.


  6. I saw that you have a page that discusses patent-related resources at I wanted to suggest adding to the page. This web site has free PDF downloading (instead of having to page through TIFFs like at the US PTO). It is by far the best free patent searching site.

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