Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Voice Peering Forum - New York

I just wrapped up a full day at the Voice Peering Forum in New York City sponsored by The VPF (Voice Peering Fabric). There was a strong representation of service providers (AT&T, Verizon, XO, Sprint) and in a couple of sessions there was a lot of insightful discussion regarding the current and future state of VoIP peering. There is no doubt that VoIP peering is growing strongly, but it is still a small part of the total telecom interconnection market.

I think the good news for VoIP peering is that folks are starting to focus on business models for peering rather than the enabling technology. The focus on VoIP peering for the last three years has been on how to get it working for isolated interconnect cases. The initial VoIP peering concepts promoted a simple economic model of "bill and keep" (each VoIP peers bills their subscribers and keeps all the revenue without sharing with other networks involved with the call). The bill and keep model is attractive because it is simple, but it provides no economic incentive for interconnection or VoIP peering.

Now the discussion is beginning to focus on how to enable a common business model that gives all network operators an economic incentive to offer open interconnection with other VoIP networks. The general consensus is that the challenge is large and the following critical infrastructure components need to be defined for VoIP peering: route discovery, interoperability, accounting and settlement. The key question raised at the conference is when will the industry realize that VoIP interconnection is preferred over SS7 interconnection - when is the tipping point? Nobody knows the answer to this question, but for the first time I saw representatives from big incumbent carriers mulling over this problem and looking for a new market opportunity.

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