It isn’t often you go to a meeting which launches a new industry. This is essentially what happened at the Radisson SAS Hotel in London today as Nominet launched their ENUM registration service.
The presentations gave a basic training in ENUM for those who needed it and then offered an open forum for discussion as to how the market would be developed.
For those that don’t know, ENUM is a means for VoIP users to connect with other VoIP users without having to pay for calls, assuming that you have the IP bandwidth. It assumes that calls are going to become free and that service providers will have to find other ways to make money. The more registered ENUM subscribers the morecalls will be free.
The reality is that it will still take a long time to happen. VoIP to VoIP interoperability is a long way from being straightforward and the service will rely on using the internet for connectivity with all the quality issues that that entails. VoIP providers such as Timico typically use high quality private IP network connections as opposed to the internet for their call traffic. This is important for businesses.
The near term pitch is the ability to connect multiple islands of VoIP such as multi site businesses (retail, police, NHS etc). VoIP providers can however do this today. Nominet rightly responds to this saying that this is not currently being done with standard scalable solutions such as ENUM. They are right but the solutions in use today exist and work and come from reputable market leaders such as Nortel and Cisco.
Timico has been involved as a pioneer in UK ENUM from its basic beginnings when it was down to volunteer efforts. With a DTI sponsored commercial activity it may well be that ENUM will eventually start gaining ground although all the building blocks are not yet quite there. Nominet has a good team but it is still going to be a long haul. Nominet recognises this and has assumed that it will take at least five years to break even.
Its going to be interesting to see what happens. Timico will participate when it believes the market, that does not yet exist, is ready.