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Mind Share
June 2001

Marc Robins ENUM's Got Your Number


[ Go Right To: More Good Numbers ]

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, NexTone, Pingtel, SS8 Networks, Indigo Software, 3Com, Cisco, Ubiquity, Avaya, Clarent, ITXC, 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 sites.

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., [email protected]) using the buttons on a telephone keypad. By employing NetNumber's service, this feature can be made available now.

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 protected].

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 mrobins@tmcnet.com.

[ Return To The June 2001 Table Of Contents ]

More Good Numbers

According to a new study by Allied Business Intelligence entitled "Voice-over-IP Equipment for Service Providers and Enterprises: The Global Market for Gateways, Gatekeepers and Board-Level Solutions," VoIP is being added as a complementary technology to help transfer traffic over the world's telephony networks at a rate that will triple by 2006. The report projects that the world market for VoIP gateways and gatekeepers will grow from $3.7 billion in 2000 to $12.3 billion in 2006. In the service provider space, the report projects that the market for VoIP equipment will grow from $2.6 billion in 2000 to $7.8 billion in 2006. The enterprise market is expected to grow from $1.1 billion in 2000 to $4.6 billion. Not surprisingly, the study also finds that North America is the leading market for the technology, accounting for 39 percent of the service provider and 64 percent of the enterprise market. The study also notes that as more regions of the world embrace deregulation -- especially the Asia-Pacific and Latin America markets -- the opportunities will grow for VoIP as the technology becomes more attractive relative to the less efficient and costly circuit-switched networks.

[ Return To The June 2001 Table Of Contents ]

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