I have been hearing an awful lot about a new carrier-grade service from a
company called NetNumber, and it seems as
if companies are lining up to partner with this developer of so-called
commercial ENUM services. At last look, a host of companies, including Pagoo,
SS8 Networks, Indigo
Software, 3Com, Cisco,
Intel, and dynamicsoft
have signed on, and I expect many more to do so over the next few months.
So what is ENUM, what does it do, and why should it matter? ENUM (short for
Electronic NUMber) is a global standard approved by the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) last year as RFC 2916 that translates an E.164
(a standard PSTN) international telephone number into a series of Internet
addresses or uniform resource locators (URLs). By turning telephone numbers into
Internet addresses, ENUM can also be applied to a number of additional services
such as unified addressing for fax machines, e-mail, instant messaging, and Web
NetNumber's claim to fame is that it launched the world's first
carrier-grade, full-service ENUM registry service. NetNumber's service allows IP
endpoints to be referenced to PSTN numbers. This capability enables practical,
global deployment of IP-based services by simplifying the provisioning process
and eliminating complex cross-domain endpoint configuration management. A single
phone number registered with the NetNumber ENUM Service can reach multiple
IP-enabled devices (such as IP-PBXs, IP phones, VoIP gateways, and SIP proxy
servers), as well as fax machines, printers, PDAs, and other endpoints.
Additionally, as this service is separate and distinct from any given service
provider, it allows look-ups to a broader world of IP endpoints, thereby
increasing the chance that a call will avoid termination on the PSTN.
Service providers and corporate network operators can use NetNumber's Global
Internet-Telephony Directory to deploy a number of value-added IP-communications
services for their end-users. One application is to enable real-time voice and
fax communications between customers, vendors, and partners that have invested
in IP-PBX systems. The directory in this case can provide seamless integration
of real-time voice over the Internet with real-time voice over the existing
telephone network with no change in end-user dialing behavior.
Another application would be to allow end-users to send, receive, forward,
and broadcast voice mail messages for free over the Internet just as easily as
they send, receive, forward, and broadcast e-mail messages today. The service
would also allow end-users to clear out a backlog of voice mail messages by
simply "replying" to their messages, at zero cost.
And how about "spoken e-mail" for unified messaging users? In this scenario,
users of unified-messaging systems can send "spoken e-mail" messages from any
normal telephone handset. One of the great strengths of unified messaging
services is their ability to send voice mail messages for free over the Internet
as "spoken e-mail." Unfortunately, this powerful communications tool is only
available today when a user records a message from a speech enabled PC that
allows the user to enter an e-mail address as a destination. "Spoken e-mail" is
usually not available from a telephone handset today because users can't enter
an e-mail address (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org) using the buttons on a telephone
keypad. By employing NetNumber's service, this feature can be made available
I expect a lot more NetNumber partnering releases in the future because the
company is aggressively committed to stimulating the deployment of ENUM-enabled
IP-communications systems. To wit, NetNumber's production ENUM service is being
provided to integration partners at no cost through the end of 2001. Integration
partners can use the service to perform both integration tests as well as live
trial deployments with both corporate customers and service provider customers
on a global basis.
IP communication vendors and service providers can gain access to a full
suite of ENUM resolution and provisioning SDKs, documentation, and integration
support services. For additional information or questions, visit www.netnumber.com
or contact email@example.com.
Marc Robins is vice president of publications at TMC and associate group publisher for INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine. Marc has been covering the
communications industry since 1980, and his column takes a look at some of the
more interesting trends vying for attention in our industry. Please contact Marc
with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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