Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge

U.K. telecom regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) effectively gave the green light to voice-over-broadband competition today by ruling that service providers could provide geographic numbers (ones with area codes) to VOIP customers (see Ofcom Speaks Out On VOIP).

The regulator believes VOIP will benefit users from both a service and cost perspective, and that an increasingly competitive wholesale market and the relatively cheap cost of entry for startups should ensure a "wide range of providers."

Ofcom also believes that providing geographic numbers for VOIP will also boost competition, as it will make it easier for users to switch from their current telephony provider and retain their number. The regulator has also created a new, non-geographic code, 056, specifically for VOIP.

Making geographic numbers available is a massive boost for the voice-over-broadband sector, reckons operator Inclarity plc, which markets its VOIP service through resellers (see Inclarity Claims VOIP Success and Saiph Takes VOIP to SMEs). Its research shows that 85 percent of business users would not use a voice-over-broadband service unless geographic numbers were available (see Inclarity Comments on UK VOIP Reg Move).

And the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA), which represents a number of U.K. competitive service providers and ISPs, also welcomed Ofcom's news, saying that it removed "many of the uncertainties" for Internet telephony services.

In a prepared statement, ITSPA founder member Eli Katz said the move would provide "a solid interim framework for the development of the next generation of the new Internet telephony services. All the key issues we called for have been delivered," he added, though some issues around number portability, especially the cost to the VOIP service provider, still needed work.

Ofcom's announcement looks certain to herald an entry into the U.K. market by VOIP powerhouse Vonage Holdings Corp., which has shaken up the US voice market in the past year (see Vonage Reaches 200,000 Lines and Vonage Dials Up $105M ). Earlier this year it announced its intention to bring its brand across the Atlantic during the fourth quarter of 2004 (see Vonage Plans Q4 Launch in UK).

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

dljvjbsl 12/5/2012 | 1:18:11 AM
re: Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge OK I will give it a try.

PSTN has 100 years of history. It uses PCM and is so much more reliable than the Internet.
lastmile 12/5/2012 | 1:18:11 AM
re: Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge Too much of VOIP news and you are conspicuous by your absence.
spegru 12/5/2012 | 1:18:10 AM
re: Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge I'd like to think everyone on this board has at least tried Skype - www.skype.com

I wonder if anyone has any views on how the incumbents can compete with free P2P VoIP

mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 1:18:09 AM
re: Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge if IPv4 NAT continues to be deployed, based on the way Skype addresses both parties being behind NAT boxes.

At least I think so, as I've explained in the following post on slashdot.org, yesterday.

Mosseller 12/5/2012 | 1:18:09 AM
re: Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge Clearly the carriers will be bundling VoIP along with the DSL package to the consumer. With the emergence of hybrid wifi/cell phone handsets when the user is within reach of a wifi point (or home phone line with ADSL) the phone will choose to revert to VoIP as a cheaper option.

Therefore I don't think that the incumbents need to compete with free P2P VoIP, they will ignore it as a minority play, and continue to provide a reliable value added service, albiet based on new VoIP enabled handsets.
boozoo 12/5/2012 | 1:18:08 AM
re: Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge Mr zippy,

interesting article, but I think it's a bit too speculative and a bit biased against skype (which is good, in a world where maybe there's too much excitement over skype).

I agree that as people will smarten-up and buy NAT-enabled routers, there might be fewer and fewer "C" nodes. However, I think the market forces will solve this problem in such a manner that p-to-p calls will remain free of charge (e.g. ISPs will include C nodes in their "internet access" offering?, or we'll be able to buy NAT firewalls with an "allow skype calls" feature?).

a) wrt relying on "C" to go from A to B: I would imagine that the smart people that designed skype made it so that a call from A to B would setup e few spare "C" nodes for a given call. If a C node fails, the datagrams will be forwarded (with a little glitch maybe) to a spare "C" node.

b) "C" nodes have skype installed, therefore they agreed to the licence. As long as C does not pay per bw usage and transit calls are not eating too much of bw/cpu power, I don't think this is really an issue.

c) As you suggested, voice call security is an issue with any point-to-point transmission over the internet, especially for skype-type of calls. Not being a security expert, again I don't believe that this is an insurmontable problem for the "free-call-loving-hoards".

d) I don't know what IETF standards you refer to that would allow you to replicate a _complete_ skype-like VoIP solution.
Speaking just from experience, I would guess that skype uses a combination of standard-based protocols combined with proprietary stuff where a standard-based solution was missing.



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