Etel takeways, Better late than never

I know it’s been a while since Etel, and blogs are supposed to be timely, but I have been swamped since Etel and things are not looking much better any time soon. I have some 1000 word posts in the queue, but at this rate they may never see the light of day. In the mean time, this will have to do.

#1: We in the VoIP industry are talking out of both sides of our collective mouths

On one hand , we say “calls are free” and then we show presentations describing services where the costs of calls are prohibitive.

We say number portability and number availablity is not a problem, then we tell customers our service is not yet available in country A, B, and C because phone numbers are not available there (or cost too much).

We also say “calls are free” unless it’s a mobile call.

So which is it, VoIP Industry?

The fact is, calls are not free. For many parts of the world, domestic landline calls, if not free, are not a cost-problem. But in most of the world mobile/wireless calls are NOT free, not even close. And in some parts of the world, cost is a major factor even for city to city or country to country calls. This “calls a are free” meme is a VoIP MYTH

These are just a few examples. This theme of saying one thing and then showing another was pretty common at ETel. I’ll try to cite a few more examples if I get time in the coming weeks.

#2 There is no support/concern for Industry standards or IP-based interoperability

When audience members ask ‘Do you support industry standards?’ of course the vendors respond with a resounding ‘yes’ (or, if they are halfway honest, a guarded ‘yes’). But the fact is, there was almost never interoperability to be found in their actual products and nobody in the audience pushed it.

The entire industry is falling back on the 100 year-old PSTN for interoperability. For example, every presenter that provided a telephone number to reach their service could (and should) have provided a SIP address too – but none of them did. And nobody noticed. Instead of a vendor automatically assuming, naturally, that a SIP address should be provided, the way we assume email addresses, it doesn’t even occur to them, even though in 99% of the cases, a SIP address ccould be provided at zero additional cost, since their underlying technology would support it out of the box.

As I sat through Wednesday’s presenters, this was hammered home over and over again. Supposed next-generation products like Grandcentral, Jangl, Robocal, Iotum, and TalkPlus — and not a SIP address among them. We reach them from IP by paying a VoIP termination service X cents per minute to terminate a call to the PSTN. How ridiculous is that? We are on IP. They are on IP. Why in the world should we have to resort to an IP to PSTN gateway and another PSTN back to IP gateway to reach their service when we have well-defined interoperable standards to deliver the call directly over IP? Their service is most likely already built using these standards internally, so adding the ability for reaching the service via IP is zero cost for them.

Shame on them. And shame on us for not even noticing. Telco blood runs deep, apparently.

More to follow, stay tuned.

5 comments for “Etel takeways, Better late than never

  1. I can honestly say that I am not part of "us" that has to be ashamed. I have claimed many times that we foucs solely on PSTN connectivity and not on client innovation (without which entering SIP URI will be clumsy, requiring another PSTN heritage – access codes). I have even been taken to task on this matter, if you remember. 🙂

  2. Why should we have to resort to an IP to PSTN gateway? Because there are like hundreds of millions of phones that aren’t on IP yet. We gotta go where the people are.

  3. I get that Michael. I don’t say "instead of" – I’m saying each time one adds a DID, why not also publish a SIP address to the same entry point. In most cases, it cost’s nothing to do so.

  4. Excellent point. Micheal Cerda is correct that most of our potential customers are on the PSTN, but if we really believe in openness and interoperbility we need to provide interfaces that support those goals. Relying on the TDM network to glue everything together is like printing out a document so you can fax it to someone who will put it in their scanner to store it on their hard drive.

  5. Gotcha. But…does this have to be done NOW? Why not later, when there is utility people will actually leverage? My grandmother used to always give me eggs with my pancakes, even though she knew I wouldn’t eat them. It was nice of her, but it was a waste of eggs.
    Now that I’m a grown up and actually like eggs, I can have them anytime I want.
    Really guys…I plan to build a large SIP directory here. I’m with you both on the end result. I just think it’s important to spoon feed things that people want and use as opposed to force things people don’t know or care about. IF I had a bunch of techies as customers things would be different.

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