Futurist Internet

The future of Voice

David Beckemeyer has a follow up on his entry on IP Telephony. We are definately in sync altho I have a two comments.

First, I agree with David that ENUM is not a magic bullet to the universal addressibility problem with current IP Telephony deployment. If the basic infrastructure is a close network, ENUM, which is essentially a mapping of number to (SIP) address would not help at all. ENUM is an only a value-add, making life easier for folks who is familiar with +65 1234-5678 but not sip:jseng@sip.provider.com. The former is also easier to type when you only have a 12-keypad. Second, I think Email analogy is important because it tells us a possible roadmap of how SIP technology would develop and many lesson to be learn and hopefully not to be repeated (but I am not too hopeful).

There are dozens of Email technologies in the last 20 years. From wall-garden AOL to proprietary Lotus Notes, and many others which no one can remember now. All of them are pioneers of “electronic mail” but they are not interoperable with each another. I think we are somewhere here in the IP Voice development.

But eventually, SMTP was defined and Email as we know it emerges. Properitary system and wall-garden service providers slowly embracing it in the 90s, nearly 10 years after SMTP is invented. But by that time, millions are already using SMTP vs the small pockets of non-interoperable “Email system”. Lots of lesson can be learnt here.

Email is successful because SMTP is so simple and that anyone can setup their Email servers and use Email.

In SIP, we already have the first but not the second due to the profilteration of NAT. We need to remove these NAT boxes or we need devices or technologies that can overcome them.

Proprietary Email providers continues to believe that the “wall garden” approach is in their best interest against all logic, and despite knowing Metcalfe’s Law. They only embrace SMTP when they don’t matter anymore.

In other words, don’t expect telcos and other wall-garden provider to change their way. We should move on and build our SIP network. They will come along later but wait long long (as we say in Singapore Singlish). I wont be surprise we have to wait about 10 years for this to happen.

Still, it is only an analogy and history may not play itself out in the same way (altho it happen more often then we care to admit) so we should not carry it too far. However, I am going ahead and on setup my own SIP server (SER, Vocal, Asterisk) and start calling my friends using SIP “clients” (MSN Messager, Cisco 7960, etc, etc). (Just like I went on to setup Sendmail servers and start emailing using pine in the early 90s ignoring Lotus Notes that’s provided for us.)

So, Dickson, when would my SIP phone be ready?

ps: Dickson is the unfortunate lab manager who has to tolerated my daily nagging about my SIP phone. He is trying his best to learn enough Japanese to setup the Yamaha RT57i SIP proxy.

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