& cplSiteName &

Cable Crowd Seeks VOIP Peers

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
12/20/2005
50%
50%

A CableLabs VOIP peering RFI (request for information) has been answered by many of the best-known names in the VOIP peering business, among them VeriSign Inc. (Nasdaq: VRSN), XConnect Global Networks Ltd. , Arbinet-thexchange Inc. (Nasdaq: ARBX), Neustar Inc. (NYSE: NSR), Stealth Communications Inc. , and InfiniRoute Networks Inc. , Light Reading has learned.

CableLabs, a consortium of most of the big cable MSOs, is helping its members build a VOIP peering solution that would enable direct calls between the member companies' VOIP subscribers. These calls wouldn't traverse the public switched telephone network (PSTN), a trick that could save the cable companies thousands, possibly tens of thousands, every month in interconnection fees to telcos, sources say. (See Cable Is the Voice of VOIP.)

CableLabs also points out that the quality of PSTN-connected calls suffers, because the calls often must be transcoded several times before reaching their destination. In its RFI, the consortium says videophone calls that work nicely over a direct, peered connection between cable VOIP users are reduced to audio-only when they must traverse the PSTN. (See VOIP Keeps Fueling Cable Growth.)

The RFI was issued November 22, and the due date for responses was December 14. CableLabs has said that 30 companies responded to the RFI, but it won't say what or when its next steps might be. “I think CableLabs has asked some very broad questions, and has stated very clearly that this is not even necessarily a precursor to a contract coming out,” says Arbinet-thexchange Inc. (Nasdaq: ARBX) CTO Steve Heap. “What I think they’ll do next is look at all the responses and then enter into discussions with a select group of those responders because their ideas or approaches were interesting to them.”

Stealth Communications Inc. CEO Shrihari Pandit says each CableLabs member company will choose its own VOIP peering contractor, but each winning contractor must comply with a set of standards developed by CableLabs. The creation of that standards set, Shrihari suggests, is the main reason for the RFI. The RFI itself states: “The MSO VoIP Peering project is a CableLabs-led initiative aimed at developing technical requirements, architecture and interoperable protocol specifications for delivering end-to-end VoIP and other real-time multimedia communication exchanges between service operators.” (See CableLabs Issues VOIP RFI.)

“When I looked at the RFI, I saw that the diagrams they are using look a lot like the VPF,” Shrihari says, referring to his company’s Ethernet-based Voice Peering Fabric exchange.

VOIP peering has become an important issue to cable MSOs as the number of their VOIP subscribers has swelled over the past two years. TeleGeography Inc. finds that cable MSOs are the largest providers of VOIP service in the U.S. with roughly 1.8 million users. (See Cable Gets a Vault from VOIP.)

And interest in VOIP peering appears to be growing at a pace with those numbers. "The combination of VOIP and Ethernet, is driving the VOIP peering revolution for carriers and enterprises worldwide,” writes Hunter Newby of Telx Group Inc. in his VOIP Peering report on Light Reading.

“The addition of two supporting technologies -- electronic number mapping (ENUM) and session initiation protocol (SIP) -- enables true end-to-end IP-based calling, over the public Internet or a private network, eliminating the need for an intervening carrier," Newby writes. (See SIP Guide.)

ENUM is a protocol that associates IP addresses to telephone numbers, allowing calls to be routed and managed in the IP domain from start to finish.

Multilateral VOIP peering between cable networks would eliminate interconnections with IXCs, “taking calls from the end-user device on a local network directly to another end user on a different local network by connecting the two local networks,” Newby notes.

When asked who the likely respondents to the CableLabs RFI are, Newby replied: “The usual VOIP peering suspects... as well as some carriers like Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) and, interestingly, some hardware vendors. Newport Networks plc (London: NNG) was one -- they make session border controllers.”

Representatives from CableLabs members Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Adelphia Communications , and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) chose not to comment on the peering initiative, referring questions to CableLabs. (See Comcast's VOIP Feature Creature.)

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders talks with VMware's Shekar Ayyar, who explains why cloud architectures are becoming more distributed, what that means for workloads, and why telcos can still be significant cloud services players.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
I'm Back for the Future of Communications
Phil Harvey, US News Editor, 4/20/2018
BDAC Blowback – Ex-Chair Arrested
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/17/2018
Verizon: Lack of Interoperability, Consistency Slows Automation
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 4/18/2018
AT&T Exec Dishes That He's Not So Hot on Rival-Partner Comcast
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/19/2018
Facebook Hearings Were the TIP of the Data Iceberg
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/20/2018
Animals with Phones
I Heard There Was a Dresscode... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed